So it’s bye-bye summer and hello cold, frosty mornings. It doesn’t have to mean hibernating in your onesie on the weekends, you just have to make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the weather. The challenge is to not overdress. It’s much better to set out feeling a bit chilly than feel nice and cosy from the outset – if you’re warm the moment you start pedaling you will quickly overheat.
The trick is to equip yourself with layers that can be added or removed as need be to regulate your body temperature. So here are a few tips to ensure you continue to enjoy your ride no matter what the weather throws at you.
A long-sleeve base layer is an absolute must. We all know about thermals, but we’re also big fans of anything made from merino wool. It’s wonderfully warm and soft, and retains heat even when it’s wet.
Mid-layers, outer layers, softshells, there are a lot of jerseys out there and it may take a bit of research to find the right one for you. Whether you’re looking for something to keep out the cold for a couple of hours or you need something that is windproof and waterproof as well, you’ll want a jersey with a high collar and a snug fit on the arms and body.
We love Roubaix-lined tights. This fleecy lining feels great against the skin and does a really good job of keeping legs warm. Tights without a chamois can also be useful in very cold weather, because you can wear your usual pair of shorts underneath as another layer for extra warmth.
Arm and leg warmers are fantastic value and a way of extending the use of your summer gear. Let’s face it, the weather can be unpredictable at this time of the year. You might set out for a ride feeling like you’re at the North Pole, only to be sweltering an hour or so later thanks to an unseasonably hot sun. Pull off your arm and leg warmers, stick them in a pocket and you’re away.
A gilet is another must have. It has to be one of the most useful garments a cyclist can have as when the weather starts to turn colder. It’s amazing just how effective such a lightweight garment actually is. Perfect for keeping your core warm and the wind out, the fact that your arms are exposed means that your overall body temperature won’t get too high. And when you don’t need it, a gilet takes up next to no space in your jersey pocket and weighs virtually nothing.
There is not a lot worse on a ride than suffering from cold hands. You may well end up getting several pairs for different types of weather – a lightweight glove for dry, mild conditions, and waterproof gloves for rain. Breathability is important (warm is good, sweaty is not!), as is thickness – you still need to be able to feel your brakes and gear shifters and not feel that finger movement is restricted. Silk liner gloves are also useful to have. Again, they create a layer that can be removed as need be, but will do a good job of keeping your fingers warm if your gloves are quite thin.
Cycling shoes are designed to let the air circulate so they can quickly reduce your feet to blocks of ice when the temperature starts to go down. Warm socks will make a big difference. Whilst layers are good on other parts of your body, they don’t work on feet. A decent pair of Merino wool socks will keep your toes warm and don’t tend to be so thick that your shoes feel so tight that circulation is affected.
There is little point in having toasty toes if it’s going to rain or the roads are very wet. Neoprene overshoes protect against wind and rain and are well worth investing in. Make sure you choose overshoes that fit well. Pay particular attention to how they fit around the cleat and on your ankle – these are both easy points of entry for rain, too loose and their purpose will have been defeated.
Head and neck gear
The vents in your helmet are fantastic in the summer, but not so great when there is a serious nip in the air. A headband or skullcap is a useful accessory to have, as is a buff that can be worn in all sorts of ways – on your head or as a neck warmer.