How do you layer for spring cycling?

adventures clothing Cycling

Spring weather

Spring is definitely sprung and the temperatures are definitely rising, but what on earth do you wear when the weather is so undecided in what it wants to do?  Somehow spring seems to throw us all weathers in less than a week, and sometimes even all weathers in the space of a single bike ride!

I have to say that spring is my favourite season but it’s a nightmare for knowing what to wear when going out for a bike ride!   In our house, a household full of cyclists, it’s easy – you wait for someone else to go out for a ride and then you quiz them on what layers worked for them.  But obviously, this method is no good for anyone daring to go out first! 

The main problem during spring is rapidly changing conditions, so although the following suggestions are quite temperature specific, bear in mind that you’ll be travelling through a variety of temperatures and weathers by the time you’ve finished your ride.  We’re often starting out cold and expecting to warm up later, or worse still – commuting first thing in the morning in what feels like ‘winter’ and riding home later in ‘summer’.  Furthermore, how hard you intend to ride will also affect your body temperature.  A training ride with lots of efforts will quickly heat you up, as will riding with the fast group and going quicker than normal.  Equally, a slow gentle ride (perhaps with young children) will not get your core temperature high enough.

So here are some tips for what to wear and how to decide:

Always step outside before taking any clothing decisions – it’s best to judge what the actual temperature feels like yourself rather than rely on what your mobile phone weather forecast thinks it should be.  This way you can also test out how windy it is, since wind is a heat thief regardless of temperature.

Be aware of how much wind there is; a strong blustery headwind is much more chillsome than a tailwind.  A windproof will make all the difference but beware of the ‘boil in the bag’ effect and ending up sweating like a pig!

Off-road riding is absolutely brilliant at this time of year, but gently spraying yourself with wet mud can be quite cooling so keep the leg warmers on and consider wearing MTB shorts too.

Temperatures between 9 and 12°c

Long sleeved base layer, short sleeve jersey, thermal long sleeve jersey, bib shorts, leg warmers

 – Take a lightweight rain/windproof layer as well, always good to keep you warm if you puncture and begin to get chilly.

– Add a cap in case you get a hail shower to keep the hail from hammering your face.

– Leg warmers are a must: legs are the first to over-heat when it gets warmer and you can always take them off and stuff them in a pocket.

– If, like me, your temperature dial is normally set to feeling chilly, add a lightweight long sleeve jersey under your thermal jersey.  Again, it’s small enough to tuck into a pocket but adds that extra all over layer if the weather is on the colder side.

Temperatures between 12 and 15°c

Short sleeved base layer, short sleeve jersey, thermal long sleeve jersey, bib shorts

 – Take a lightweight rain/windproof layer as well, always good in case you puncture and begin to get chilly.

– Consider wearing leg warmers, you can always start off with them and ditch them later in the ride, stowing them away.

– Take a neck warmer to use as a face mask if you fancy a longer ride and want to buy a takeaway coffee.

Temperatures between 15 and 18°c

Short sleeved base layer, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, lightweight long sleeve jersey, bib shorts

 – Arm warmers are a must: the arms have a strange tendency to get warm and the sun is often in out during spring, so these are easily stowable in a pocket.

– Take a lightweight long sleeve jersey in your pocket in case the sun goes in (personally, I’d rather wear mine than arm warmers because I like the layer on the torso).

Temperatures between 18°c and scorchio

Short sleeved base layer, short sleeve jersey, bib shorts

 – Still take spare layers in case of a change in temperature.  For example, this week I began a ride in the late afternoon in shorts and short sleeves, I put on my lightweight long sleeve jersey when the sun fell low in the sky and the temperature dropped.

– Wear a cap to keep the low sunlight out your eyes in an evening ride.

So, happy riding whatever you decide to wear and wherever you decide to go. Oh, and also remember the sunscreen; sharp tan lines look much better in tan colour than burnt!

May the weather always be in your favour!


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