Warm cycling feet. Because sometimes Rule #5 can bite me.
I’ve been at this a while, so you think I’d have this dialed by now but every year I still struggle to get it exactly right. Part of the problem is that most days I just grumble about hardman something-or-other or Rule #5 and then roll out the door with normal socks and normal shoes and normal overshoes. And I wonder why I return with numb feet. Or I get home and congratulate myself on suffering through with numb feet because, Rule Number Five.
But this weekend I snapped. The weather was (finally) mercifully dry, but still a little cold. Saturday’s 4-hour rollabout featured 2 hours of numb feet. On Sunday morning, I decided to take action. The combo I dreamed up was a smash success; here’s what worked for me.
- Ski socks. Wool cycling socks are neat. And sometimes warm enough. But not always. I upgraded to full-on ski socks. The thick kind that I keep in the bottom drawer of my dresser. A drawer that is labeled, with tape, “FAT SOCKS.” Fat wool socks. That’s where I started.
- Hand warmers duct-taped to the top of my toes. I know this seems excessive, but I contend that the stick-on, foot-shaped, footie warmers do not actually retain heat as well as the fatter, free-floating hand warmer pouches. Adding hand-warmer pouches to already thick socks requires a lot of extra space in your shoe, which leads me to the next layer. I think the taped-on hand warming pouches was the most important part of this toasty-foot success story.
- Winter cycling boots 1-2 sizes above normal. Mine are Sidi Hydros that I acquired for a peloton magazine review several years ago. They probably aren’t the warmest winter boots on the market, but they block more wind than a normal shoe which is key. Most important though is making sure they’re a size or two too big so you have room for a thick sock and a hand warmer while still allowing air circulation. (I used to overstuff my cycling shoes with extra layers of socks, but cutting off the airflow surrounding the foot is actually counter-productive.)
- Good windproof overshoe. I used Endura’s neoprene road overshoe which I bought in 2011 at a local bike shop, River City Cycles. I have beaten these overshoes to shit, and though the neoprene is finally tearing a bit here and there, they still perform their main duties perfectly.
I once read that slathering your feet in antiperspirant works surprisingly well, though I haven’t been desperate enough to try that yet.
What are your best warm-feet strategies?