Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Cycling/Running 2014-15, Keeping Those Toes/Fingers Warm


A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That's how I want you to play.
                                                                                                                                Mike Krzyzewski





One of the things on your off season to do list during might be get a neutral bike fit by a pro who doesn't benefit if you buy a new bike or aero bars.  This is John Cobb*, arguably one of the best fitters ever, shown here helping a masters athlete customize his bike fit.  This racer had very specific requests with regard to arm placement and potential positional back pain. This Cobb fit was most definitely worth the money.

______________________________________________

The Navy SEALs say "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear." Overcoming Cold Fingers and Toes While Winter Riding

I cover this topic each year as new readers sign on.  Here's what's new in 2014.

Although it’s not yet December, we in Virginia have had our first snow of the year. I think it’s a good time to start this year’s discussion of cold fingers, cold toes, and Raynaud’s Syndrome in some cases.

 Raynaud's is pretty common. Many athletes write to me and without knowing what they're describing, will have Raynaud's as an isolated phenomenon.  In others, it accompanies a more global process. Those affected will have more issues in cold conditions than warm, their fingers will have decreased sensation and often turn white, almost snow white.  As often as not there will also be a numb sensation also.  Physiologically, it's a spasming of the small arteries in the digits, often when cold. About 5% of men and 8% of women have Raynaud's and it can affect ears, toes, and even your nose.

When rewarmed by being placed in modestly warm water for 2 or 3 minutes, the digits turn every shade of red and purple you can imagine before simply settling on only mildly red. In a few minutes, as the fingers begin to warm, they can also turn blue then a purple-red with a "pins and needles" feeling before they normalize. This whole process can take from just a few minutes to an hour and can be quickened by immersing ones hands in warm water as noted above. Or stick them in your pants or shirt on your warm belly.   Women seem to get this more than men, often in the 2nd to 4th decade of life. There are medical answers to this, and medicines to avoid, which might increase the frequency of attacks. Once warm, daily tasks like starting a car or typing become easy.

 If you want to document this, next time it occurs, start taking pictures with your cell phone, and save them for your health care provider. You will be asked about a family history of certain kinds of arthritis, bowel disease and the like. You may find that your complaints are the same (or different) but it's a good starting place.

 My sister and I both have this diagnosis to a greater or lesser degree and I think I'm the biggest local purchaser of chemical hand warmers at our local backpacking store. But, I ride outdoors all year unless there's snow or ice on the road. Outdoor swimming in Fall or Spring, however, can present a certain challenge!  Fortunately most triathletes avoid outdoor swimming unless at gun point and the thought of cold water drives them positively - well, indoors!

 That said, I've had it for 30 years, my Mom longer, so it's easy to follow long term. And mostly we just live with it. As mentioned, I use chemical hand and foot warmers biking in the winter, and when it's below freezing I have some Sidi rechargeable warming inserts for my winter biking boots (they're not cheap and don’t work all that well - read don't waste your money. There may be improved rechargeable warming shoe inserts of which I am not aware.  Let me know.)  Neoprene bike shoe covers, either just the toes to block the wind, or full booties can be useful.  Ultimately, it's all just a matter of preparation.  So, welcome to the world of winter riding/running and possibly Raynauds Syndrome. It's an inconvenience but not much more.
______________________________

 A number of readers have had excellent posts about how to solve the cold hands problem that can accompany winter riding. Excellent suggestions have come forth about a variety of different types of gloves/mittens/socks, chemical hand warmers, etc. Some athletes have simply chosen to ride indoors until the bloom of Spring and give those Computrainers a work out. If, however, you want to stay outside all winter, depending upon your climate, some alterations may be in order to remain comfortable.


 All it takes is a little trial and error. Well, maybe a lot of trial and error. I'd suggest you start by putting a thermometer outside your window to get an accurate temperature before you venture out. It's better than the Weather Channel as you may live a real distance from where they get their measurements. Then, get an idea of what gloves, layering of gloves, mittens and layering/lining of mittens you need at 50 - 55 degrees, 40 - 45 degrees, etc. If your mittens are so bulky that you may lose control of the bike, figure out something else. 

A reader from last year noted that the important thing was not to layer each digit as you might do with shirts and coats, but to provide a “den” for the fingers. Mittens, more than a single layer, with touching digits and some type of warmer seemed best for him. One thing that many over look is a product called Bar Mitts (they also have Mountain Mitts for your mountain bike.) These are sleeve-like neoprene that fit right over your handle bars and block cold, rain and snow...not that you'll be riding outdoors on 23 mm tires in the snow. I hope. You don't even need very thick gloves to stay toasty. I'll admit that they may look a little dorky but the bike group conversation will quickly move on to something else and you keep your hands warm. I'll attach a couple pictures from a local riders bike.







Or on your Tri bike:





 One follower offered  "I've found disposable hand warmers to be essential for winter running -- I start using them when the temperature drops below 50. For running races, I wear thin gloves, then hand warmers, and then socks over both. If I heat up too much in the race, I can toss the socks or even the hand warmers."

So don't let the cold alter your training plan, it doesn't stop the SEALs.

*http://www.cobbcycling.com

Friday, November 14, 2014

Essential Quickie Fall/Winter Hotel Bike Workout



"I looked out this morning and the sun was gone."  

                                                                                                             More than a Feeling  Boston


Open water swimming does Not look inviting today!




The essential 45 Minute Hotel Bike Workout that anyone can do when on the road.
_____________________________

Even though, when asked about Chris Carmichael's role in training Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis labeled him "a beard," not everything that came out of CTS was bad.  To the contrary.  Now that Carmichael has retired, and we seem to have left LA behind us (and if you haven't read Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by Juliet Macur, you're really missing something.  It would make an excellent Christmas gift to your favorite triathlete or cyclist) CTS lists 43 coaches on their web site and a good number of athletes. 


I don't know where the following was published but it's one of those simple things that can really make a business or family trip less painful.  We get to serve that commitment to train for sure.  Although this is not get out and smell the flowers as you ride by in a foreign city, it is very effective in whipping your butt satisfactorily such that your log book, coach, or that little person that lives inside you who feels guilty when you deviate from your ATP by more than 1% remains happy.

This is a modification of the original and how to take advantage of the resources you have, not feel bad about what you don't have.

If you can choose a hotel that has highly adjustable spin bikes, throw your bike shorts in your luggage. Some hotels will even let you bring your pedals and bike shoes. (It only takes a pre trip phone call to find out.)  But whichever route you follow, be sure to respect the hotels equipment.  That way you'll make it easy for others and be assured you can do it again on your next stay.


Leaving your Power Tap and HR monitor at home, just follow this guide and a good workout will unfold.  It's posted two ways.  The list you see, and then a layout that will stay on an exercise bike and is easy to follow. Print off the second one.  Couple copies.


Warmup:  8 minutes

Fast Pedal: 1 minute
Recovery: 30 seconds
Fast Pedal: 1 minute
Recovery: 30 seconds
Hard Effort: (7 0n a scale of 10) 2 minutes
Harder Effort: (9 effort) 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Easy Spin: 6 minutes
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Cooldown : 10 minutes
____________________________Simply hit your chrono at zero when you begin and follow the times

Time 0
Warmup:  8 minutes

Fast Pedal: 1 minute
Recovery: 30 seconds
Fast Pedal: 1 minute
Recovery: 30 seconds

Time so far: 11:00
Hard Effort: (7 0n a scale of 10) 2 minutes
Harder Effort: (9 effort) 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes

Time so far: 16;00
Harder: 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Easy Spin: 6 minutes

Time so far: 26:00
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute

Time so far: 32:00
Hard Effort: 2 minutes
Harder: 1 minute
Cooldown : 10 minutes

Good luck and pass this on to your travelling friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Race Wheels: Why You Need Them For Training


Be Prepared - the Boy Scouts Motto

Perhaps it should also be the triathlete's motto


Making sure it's right one more time.

Not too long ago, at an early season local sprint triathlon, I was watching a woman struggle mightily getting her tires/wheels where she wanted them.  Since I practice what I preach, that promptness pays big dividends on race day, my bike and transition area had been set up for quite some time and it was "chill time" for me.  I was leaning back against the fence just glad to be a part of the sport.  I asked this athlete if I might be of any assistance and was told "yes, I don't usually do too much on my bike."

The rest of the tale involves an athlete, any athlete probably, like so many in the transition area that morning, who liked to race but when anything out of the ordinary cropped up the racer is SOL.

You'd think that at a certain performance level, this would no longer occur.  And you'd be dead wrong.  Talk to one of the panic mechanics at the World Championships and you'd find that the most common thing they do is help folks adjust the tire pressure of their race wheels.  The most obvious reason being that they only use them a couple times per year, like the big carving knife your parents have for the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, kept in a box in a drawer until the holidays.  But the carving knife doesn't have a presta valve.

This issue takes on a greater importance if you stray from the straight and narrow by using latex tubes, sealant, etc.  All the more reason to understand your gear and be able to, without a lot of fuss or muss on race day, address simple problems quickly and correctly.

One way would be to use the race wheels during routine training.  They're not going to break.  Because you care for your stuff, they won't get scratched.  And should a flat occur (if you're lucky) you get on the job training at repair.  Should you plan to purchase new wheels for the upcoming season, why not get them early, put several rides on them, learn what makes them tick and you'll be both more prepared and less worried on race day.

I know the guys at my LBS and am quite certain that I could ask them when they might have a quiet moment in their week, one that would allow me to return and mount my tires (or tubes and tires) on my new wheels.  And we'd all have fun doing it.  I'd bring hot Starbucks or bagels and cream cheese just for being the nice guys that they are.

I've written before that frequently local bike shops will have bike maintenance classes over a few week day or weekend days that teach you everything you need for basic care.  They can be quite enjoyable.  Winter's almost here, or maybe it's already come where you live, and what better time is there to start preparing for the 2015 season? 


My tire pressure is just fine, Jack.

Friday, November 7, 2014

When You Dress, Make It a Transition



Up in the sky, look: It's a bird. It's a plane. It's an Ironman



The Adventures of an Ironman

"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!"
"Look! Up in the sky!"
"It's a bird!"
"It's a plane!"
"It's an Ironman!"

"Yes, it's Ironman - strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Ironman - defender of law and order. Champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American Way."*

5 minute post Ironman registration smile
___________________________________

You know those guys, the ones who are in the shower for 20 minutes after the workout..and it takes them forever to carefully complete each step in their personal grooming?  (Let's see now, comb hair just so, make sure shirt is creased just so, check hair again, etc. Like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever?  Isn't there one in every group?  What the heck are these people doing in there?  They for sure ain't triathletes!



Do you frequently, when getting dressed after a swim workout at the gym, with no one around to talk to, make it a transition practice?  One local athlete I know does it all the time.  "It makes me think through every step of a race transition."  He silently says "go" and then it's clothes out of locker, not haphazardly but in a controlled everything in it's place manner, gear back in, don street clothing, replace locker contents and done.   Although he says he doesn't actually time himself, I don't really believe him.  I must admit though that knowing he's a good athlete (I've seen his splits,) and a great transitioner, he regularly beats folks who can bike and run faster since he can cut off a couple minutes in a sprint triathlon transition.  Maybe we should follow his routine on occasion.


Her bike passes inspection for the local sprint tri
There are so many ways during your normal day that you can think of to become a stronger faster triathlete. Some examples were seen in a recent blog I wrote about kissing off elevators and moving sidewalks.   I'm fairly sure that you can make up ones of your own, practice them, and then see the results on race day.

Triathlon, perhaps more than some sports, is a way of life to many.  I'm sure there are times during the work day when we are supposed to be studying or planning a project at work, when our mouse accidentally finds it's way to last weeks olympic distance event and the age group results.  "No," you protest.  "No one would actually do that," you meekly assert, the words cheap and hollow, the guilt of having done the same dripping from your mouth.  "Me, too," I echo.




*Adapted from Superman  http://www.supermanhomepage.com/news.php

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Medical Thoughts at Ironman; the Mumuku Winds Take Their Toll



Do your best to stay out of here if you can

Ironman medical tent waiting for its first customer



Kona is one of the venues where all athletes are weighed at registration.  An unlucky few repeat that when they hit the medical tent.

No athlete plans their race by thinking “OK, body marking, check tires, pre-race pee, good swim and then crash my bike so I end up with medical.”  Right?  Neither do the folks who actually end up partaking of the services offered by the medical team.

Racing triathlon is not an exact science.  There’s a good deal you can do, however, to lessen your chances of an unplanned visit to the tent just as you can plan your transitions thoroughly to require the least amount of time.  Like Crocodile Dundee says to Sue Charlton when describing how the Pitjantjatjara aborigines can walk at night through the forest without hitting anything, “They think their way through.” If, well before the gun goes off signaling the start of the race, like the Pitjantjatjara you “think your way through,” the event you’ll have a safer, more enjoyable day.  I’ve heard it said that your race planning should be broken up into at least three major areas of consideration including conditions, mechanical issues, and your current overall level of race readiness.

On Sunday morning after the 2014 Hawaii Ironman last month I talked with one of the med tent docs about how things went from his perspective in the big tent next door to the King Kamehameha Hotel, Ironman Race Headquarters.  His initial impression was that the harshness of the conditions led to both an increased number of “customers” and a setback in their arrival.  In other words as the day progressed and the famed ho'o Mumuku* winds picked.  The ferocity of the famed Hawaiian winds bearing that name, which roughly translated means ‘the winds that blow both ways.”  One of life’s little pleasures on the Kona coastline.  It’s how you can have a head wind both ways on an out and back course.

  This was especially evident in the northern part of the island not far from the Hawi bike turn around and described by uber-coach Joe Friel “as bad as I‘ve ever seen it.” And he’s seen a lot.  It slowed the second half of the bike for many putting athletes far behind their race plans. In fact, those who’d had a slow start to the day after encountering swells in Kailua Bay were the most affected.  But they were the racers who could afford it the least, the older triathletes who generally spend more time on the course and can ill afford an event more difficult than it already is.

There were (almost unbelievably) 46 athletes over 70 with 4 men and 1 woman in the 80-84 year old age group, none of whom made the bike cut off. Compare that to 2013 where four of four did in the almost eerily calm conditions.

When recalling the goings on in the med tent, the doc felt “ there was nothing we couldn’t handle” describing the expected dehydration, exhaustion, minor bike crashes, etc. One biker was injured in the Waimea area up north and taken to closer medical facilities near there, further details unknown.  It was also a testament to the (syn harshness) that there were, somewhat usually, 14 athletes receiving care instead of the more common 2 or three.


So do your best to stay hydrated, race within your own personal limitations, don’t allow the monotony of 112 miles on the bike get your guard down, and you’ll never know the sensations  of lying on a cot watching the volunteer nurse trying to decide which vein to start the IV.  With perfect pre race preparation, the next tent you see will be Ringling Brothers Big Top with camels in it, not doctors.


*Mumuku - Hawaiian dictionary definition is "Strong wind that blows at Kawaihae"

It's said that ancient Hawaiian warriors, the Alapa, would train in the Kawaihae and Waikoloa region of the Big Island due to the harsh conditions and intense winds.  The first Ironmen of Hawaii perhaps?



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You're Not Old Till You Exit the Pool on the Stairs


"I'll take any risk to tie back the hands of time."
                                                        
                                                                                Styx
_______________________________________________



Dr. Frankenstein: You know, I'm a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump.

Igor: What hump?
______________________________________________________________

I was told over twenty years ago that "you're not old until you start using the stairs to get out of the pool."  It's one of those things that after a while takes hold in our brains till we come to believe it as fact.  True or not, I still leave the water directly from my lane, the old push up technique.  And I'm no longer young.

Another one I learned in premed from Homer Jackson Moore, MD, one of the sharpest guys I've ever met and a major reason I got accepted to med school.  Trying to keep up with, and every once in a while,get ahead of "Jack" Moore was a full time job.  However, it got me the grades  I needed to gain entrance to "the U" Medical School . Jack used to say, "Take the stairs and add a day to your life."  Let's see how that fits into a triathlete's world. 

Does that single comment shape us into the travelers that we are today?  I think so.  Rarely do I step on a moving sidewalk or escalator at the airport.  Famed triathlon coach Joe Friel told me many years ago in this type of discussion to think that "those airport stairs were put there just for you."  A third member of the discussion admitted that if he had a layover, the stairs were "an opportunity to get stronger."  He'd go up and down them repeatedly like mini mountain climbing.  When asked if passers by would think him nuts he repeated the oft quoted line from Michael J. Fox, "What other people think of me is not my concern."  And he did get stronger.  And faster.

I have another friend who, when traveling, rather than sit and stare at mindless talking heads on TV giving you weather information about a place you may never in your life visit, finds an empty gate and does push ups.  Or sit ups, leg levers, planks, hip thrusts, you name it.  Once again, if she gets an odd look she thinks, "They'd be welcome to do some of these with me."

Before 9/11, it wasn't all that hard to park your stuff in a terminal locker, head out for a run and then finish with a sponge bath in the men's or ladies room when you get back.  You wouldn't be the first person with a long layover to make your way to a local health club for a weight workout or couple hours on a stationery bike.  I've read that some enterprising folks have even made their way into the airport hotel fitness center.  And some airports have actual gym facilities. http://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/227513


There are opportunities in your life like this every day from how far away from the door of the supermarket you park to shunning the elevator in office buildings.   I've reported before that during my junior year med school clerk ships, while training for my first Boston Marathon, that the West Wing where our patients were located had 16 floors.  And before getting our assigned patients, my friend Dennis and I agreed we wouldn't use the elevator.  

At all.

You guessed it.  We were assigned to West Wing 15, the fifteenth floor of the hospital.  So several times a day it was fifteen flights of stairs up and fifteen down.  What really got your goat was when you forgot something like your notebook at one end or the other....and it was fifteen flights up....

I had to smile a few weeks ago when flying with our two 20+ year old sons. We were on the way to the connecting flight to go backpacking in Sequoia National Park, the boys about 10 feet ahead of me.  And they took the stairs, not the escalator.

So when you have a little time between flights and consider poking around in search of an empty gate for a little core work, remember Michael J. Fox, a very likable guy and "What other people think of me is not my concern." 




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes, You Can Workout Outside in Winter


Overcoming the Cold, Especially Hands and Feet

Depending where you live, it won't be long


A letter I recently received. 

Although it's author, a UK athlete named James from Guernsey, is not a triathlete, we have the same problem he does.  How to continue to train in an uncomfortable environment?
_______________________________________________

Hi John,

I think you could be the man I need to speak to!

I'm an open water swimmer from Guernsey in The Channel islands (off the coast of France) and I was really hoping I could get your advice after seeing that you once swam the Channel with Raynaud's?

I also have Raynaud's as you can see from the attached pics. The purple foot is the time I made the mistake of getting in a hot shower after a long cold swim.... You know that feeling....! The yellow foot is typical of all swims, and the same goes for my hands, but the hands had come back to life for the photo..

How did you get on with the channel? Was Raynaud's the biggest hurdle? My main fear is permanently damaging feet/hands with no blood circulation for such a long period of time.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
_________________________________________

Yes, You Can Workout Outside in Winter

This is the time of year when many folks, the non-believers as it were, think we're nuts.  "What, you're going outside to run in this kind of weather, why you must be K-razy!" 

We spent the holidays in Chicago last year, and on Christmas Eve, when our 25 year old son went out for a morning run, at 0 as in Z-E-R-O degrees, Grandma was after him like flies on flypaper. "How about this wool hat?  Those gloves couldn't be thick enough.  Would you like this scarf?  How about wearing Grandpa's long johns?" etc."  She meant well.  But with a little trial and error, you can still run or bike outdoors providing the footing/traction is safe and visibility OK.  In the car vs runner arena, the car still wins most of the time.

It's been said that you heat up 10-15 degrees once you get going so that's in your corner. A friend tells me "there are no bad runs, only bad gear," meaning you don't need to be cold if you plan properly.  Many of us have other issues like Raynauds Syndrome.  For those readers who may not know (or who may have it and wonder), Raynauds Syndrome is the discoloration and numbness of the fingers that many adults see in response to cool/cold conditions or sometimes changes in emotion. The finger whiteness discussed above, sensory disturbance, and even pain, make them pretty useless when trying to type or any other fine motor activity. In a few minutes, as the fingers begin to warm, they turn blue then a purple-red with a "pins and needles" feeling before they normalize. This whole process can take from just a few minutes to an hour and can be quickened by immersing ones hands in warm water as noted above. Or stick them in your pants.   Women seem to get this more than men, 2nd to 4th decade of life. There are medical answers to this, and especially medicines to avoid, which might increase the frequency of attacks. 

But if you still have questions, head back to your local running shoe specialty shop. Probably not your generic sporting goods store.  But you don't buy your running shoes at a sporting goods store anyway.  Most likely the sales team is made up of runners.  Runners who've had their outdoor exercise for the day already  and would be only too happy to discuss cold hands and feet ,wool socks, mittens, and the like.  It's runners talking about running.  Doing the thing they like second best*.

Raynaud's is pretty common. Many, unknowingly, will have it as an isolated phenomenon and in others, it accompanies a more global process. Those affected will have more issues in the cold conditions than warm, their fingers will have decreased sensation and turn white, almost snow white, on occasion. When placed in modestly warm water for 2 or 3 minutes, the digits re-warm and turn every shade of red and purple you can imagine before simply settling on only mildly red. Once warm, starting a car is easy.

 A surprising number of athletes suffer from Raynaud's Syndrome.  Physiologically, it's a spasming of the small arteries in the digits, often when cold. About 5% of men and 8% of women have Raynaud's and it can affect ears, toes, and even your nose.

Note: I didn't mention that men can get frostbite of their private parts if they don't make allowances for it with their gear.  Take it from the voice of experience, the rewarming process "hurts big time!" Avoidance is best.

If you want to document the possibility of Raynauds, next time it occurs, start taking pictures with your cell phone, and save them for your health care provider. You will be asked about a family history of certain kinds of arthritis, bowel disease and the like. You may find that your complaints are the same (or different) but it's a good starting place.

 My sister and I both have this to a greater or lesser degree and I think I'm the biggest local purchaser of chemical hand warmers at our local backpacking store. But, I ride outdoors all year unless there's snow or ice on the road. Outdoor swimming in winter, however, can present a certain challenge!  Fortunately most triathletes avoid outdoor swimming and the thought of cold water drives them positively - indoors!


The challenge of year round outdoor swimming in colder climates. Ice skates work better.



 That said, I've had it for 30 years, my Mom longer, so it's easy to follow long term. And mostly we just live with it. I use chemical hand and foot warmers biking in the winter, and when it's below freezing I have some Sidi rechargeable warming inserts for my winter biking boots (they're not cheap and don’t work all that well - read that unless they've markedly improved over those 5-6 years ago, don't waste your money). It's all just a matter of preparation. So, welcome to the world of Raynauds Syndrome, it's an inconvenience but not much more.

 A number of readers have had excellent posts about how to solve the cold hands problem that can accompany winter riding. Excellent suggestions have come forth about a variety of different types of gloves/mittens/socks, chemical hand warmers, etc. Some athletes have simply chosen to ride indoors until the bloom of Spring and give those Computrainers a work out. If, however, you want to stay outside all winter, depending upon your climate, some alterations may be in order to remain comfortable.



Seen on the pier in Kona 2014
So, to remain comfortable we have to remain warm. All it takes is a little trial and error. Well, maybe a lot of trial and error. I'd suggest you start by putting a thermometer outside your window to get an accurate temperature before you venture out. It's better than the Weather Channel as you may live a real distance from where they get their measurements. Then, get an idea of what gloves, layering of gloves, mittens and layering/lining of mittens you need at 50 - 55 degrees, 40 - 45 degrees, etc. If your mittens are so bulky that you may lose control of the bike, figure out something else. A reader from last year noted that the important thing was not to layer each digit as you might do with shirts and coats, but to provide a “den” for the fingers. Mittens, more than a single layer, with touching digits and some type of warmer seemed best for him. 

One thing that many over look is a product called Bar Mitts (they also have Mountain Mitts for your mountain bike.) These are sleeve-like neoprene that fit right over your handle bars and block cold, rain and snow...not that you'll be riding outdoors on 23 mm tires in the snow. I hope. You don't even need very thick gloves to stay toasty. I'll admit that they may look a little dorky but the bike group conversation will quickly move on to something else and you keep your hands warm. I'll attach a couple pictures from a local riders bike. 







 One follower offered  "I've found disposable hand warmers to be essential for winter running -- I start using them when the temperature drops below 50. For running races, I wear thin gloves, then hand warmers, and then socks over both. If I heat up too much in the race, I can toss the socks or even the hand warmers."
_______________________________________

*Best, you ask?  Eating.