For winter bike rides I typically check several things;
1. The current temperature and most importantly the predicted wind chill. If the temp is 2 but with win chill it's -4 it most certainly means more layers
2. What is the forecast for the next few hours. If it's sunny and stable temperature then the plan is usually to stick to major roads (downside is more cars) because they tend to be better thawed and less icey (thanks to the cars and gritters) before then venturing to some quieter country lanes.
3. Was there rain last night or yesterday evening, so the liklihood of icey country lanes is greater
Last weekend it was 2 with a sunny forecast. The night had been pretty clear so I rode. Today I wasn't so confident of the early morning ice so basically wimped out and did a 2 hour turbo. I think the roads were probably ok for the most part but my brain wasn't in the mood for the additional concentration levels of more cars and ice patches.
One of the biggest discussion points my fellow club roadies have been discussing seems to be about how to keep your fingers and toes, well not toasty, but at least not so cold they are painful!!
My feet preference is to wear a thin under sock (mine are from a hiking shop and are supposed to be worn under your walking socks... But I'm biking...) my next sock layer then tends to be a pair of sealskin waterproof socks. Keep the moister out and heat in. Shoes next. Then wind/waterproof overboots, now overboots can be expensive but I've found my pair from Planet X which I got for something like 10-15quid are great. Toes snug!
Winter legs are of course a must.... Something with fluff in places and wind proofing on the thighs. This is a worthwhile investment area!
Depending on the temperature I then layer up with clothes with zips so I can just zip down if I need to cool at all
For my fingers most of my mates seem to have two pairs of gloves; a silk under glove then winter gloves. I got lucky at some point and got a pair of winter gloves (can't remember when I got them or where... But it was I a sale... Probably a spring one!) ... Anyway they are great because they are slightly furry inside but the best bit is for when it is extra cold there is a flap in the top of the glove which comes out and covers your 4 fingers making the glove into a kitten. My thumbs can sometimes get a bit cold but when they do I tuck them behind the bar and out of the wind. They also have a soft clothy bit down the thumb for when your nose runs!
When it is biting cold I will also start a ride with a ski type mask on and a sealskin skullcap under my helmet.
It's taken me a while but I am pretty happy with my winter gear... It's just my bike skills in ice that are questionable!!
In other news... The training is still going well and I even PB'd a 400m time trail the other week, first time I've cracked 7mins so that was good. Manic time at work is about to commence so my challenge will be to keep up the training as it actually helps manage my work .... I'm sure I perform better in my job when I have a physical outlet... My mum always said I was an active child!!!
And for a final note we went to put up our fake Christmas tree... And basically it broke... So we've decided to get a real one this year... It's just up (no decorations yet), I'm just waiting to see what the fur balls think of it before I get carried away with putting on 100s of baubles!!!! Caribou has been investigating already...