Night & Day

I received a pair of “electric socks” for Christmas, complete with a key fob that goes along with it. It appears the solution to the age-old mystery of how to keep my feet warm for winter cycling has been solved. By my wife.

Cycling with warm feet is a night and day difference from what I endured last year, freezing in winter boots that just were not up to the task.

I don’t wear cycling shoes when I ride. I can’t bear having my feet bound to the pedals. Yes, I understand it’s more efficient. Yes, I understand it will most likely increase my speed. And yes, I understand that shoe coverings were made to go over cycling shoes and those would keep my feet warm.

While on my longest ride to date, in July (217 km), I wore cycling shoes and had a couple of falls. The first was utter comedy, occurring around 7:30 in the morning, alone in a Leamington park. I intended to come to a rolling stop, and have a rest on a bench while eating my protein bar. I forgot, however, that my feet were bound, and as my momentum petered out, I simply tipped over on my side. No injury, but it jarred me, and I did feel like an utter idiot.

Later, the same day, when fatigue had set in and the sun was slapping me silly, I approached a busy intersection in the town of Essex. I moved to release my right foot from its pedal, so I could balance myself when I came to a stop at the traffic light, ahead. Tired and punchy, I couldn’t get my foot loose. Panic set in as I rolled toward traffic. I didn’t feel like being killed in traffic, and I didn’t feel like falling over on my side, again. I ended up ripping my right shoe from its pedal. No damage, but I endured an unpleasant adrenaline rush, and squeezed out some sweat I could not afford. When I finally made it home, safely, I switched back to flat pedals. I gotta be free when I ride!

I cycle in all weather, all year round. I’d be lying if I said there were not days when I balked simply because the idea of going into the frozen dark psyched me out. More often than not, I go. After getting most of my winter gear sorted out — thermal gloves, base layer, thermal high visibility balaclava — the winter ride became much more pleasant. The coldest day I cycled was 17° Fahrenheit. No matter how many pairs of socks I wear, however, my feet freeze, even in 40° weather. I battle the petrifaction of my feet by stopping, occasionally, and walking around to get the blood flowing, again.

Shoe covers

Today I rode 112 km and my feet were fine. The solution was two-fold.

The first part of the equation were slip-on shoe covers. These alone were not the answer, but they fit over top of my running shoes and there’s no question they shielded me from the cold, to a certain degree.

The second, and most important, part of the equation are the electric socks my wife gave to me for Christmas.

Karbon Heated Socks packaging
(A) Base layer over heated sock; (B) Knee-high heated sock showing battery pack, which zips into its own small compartment; (C) Four blue lights indicate charge level. Three orange lights indicate heat level: one light = low, two lights = medium, three lights = high. Socks heat to 131° Fahrenheit

Back when I was distracted by cold feet, I had no idea just how freeing it would be, and how much my ride would be improved. Comfort is paramount, but I get it that cycling in the winter bring its share of discomfort. Riding without the distraction of frozen feet was amazing. When the good weather ended, I gave up the idea of having fast rides. It seemed more important to just get outside and get my kilometers. Today’s ride was like a summer ride.



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Matthew St. Amand

Matthew St. Amand

Husband, father, amateur ghost hunter, online-ordained minister and writer. Learn more (but not much more) at