Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What to Wear at What Temperature

I've often thought about how clothes relate to cycling. They can be functional and stylish. Or they can be the exact opposite of that. Miserable, uncomfortable, and horrific looking. And while I'm not going to touch the stylish side of all this (I feel another post coming). I did want to talk about temperature ranges and what I think is a good match. I'll try to show changes I'd make with rain put into the mix too (seeing as how it IS Oregon and all).

Temperature Range: 65 degrees and up (dry)

-Light undershirt (Optional (Some people love them others not so much.))
-Bib Shorts (If you haven't made the switch to bib shorts run, don't walk and get a pair. I'll wait... Your welcome.)
-Short sleeve jersey
-Light socks (cycling specific please. No cotton athletic socks)
-Fingerless gloves (Optional (This is mostly if you are worried about crashing or work with your hands.))
-Glasses (With appropriate lens for the conditions)

The only changes I would make for the rain is a cycling cap and a light rain jacket. Or maybe just a vest if its just going to be showers.

Temp. Range: 65 - 58 Degrees

-Same As Above (SAA) with the addition of...

-Long finger gloves (Non insulated)
-Arm warmers
-Knee warmers
-Cycling cap (This is helpful if your bald like me.)

For precipitation here I would put on a rain jacket, leg warmers instead of knee warmers, and light booties.

Temp. Range: 57 - 50 Degrees

-Wind front vest
-Change knee warmers to leg warmers
-Slip Streams or light booty

Or go with.

-SAA Except...
-Long sleeve jersey (instead of wind vest and regular jersey)

Here again a rain jacket is a must other than that I would probably change to a lightly insulated long finger glove.

Temp. Range: 49 - 42 Degrees

This is were things start to change up quite a bit.

-Insulated cap
-Long sleeve base layer
-Long sleeve insulated jersey
-Wind vest
-Insulated long finger gloves
-Leg warmers
-Wool cycling sock
-Heavy neoprene booty over shoes

Or forgo the jersey/vest combo with leg warmers and go with

-Wind fronted insulated jersey
-Light insulated bib tight
-Embrocation (Optional (But I do like to put a little on areas that get cold easily. Like my lower back, knees or the sides of my hips))

For rain in this temperature range I would stick with the regular insulated jersey and put a rain jacket over that. Long finger gloves with wind block. And then I would definitely go with a bib tight on the bottom. Maybe even something with wind blocking. Depending how long and hard (huhuhuhu. I said long and hard.) your going.

Temp. Range: 41 - 35 Degrees

-SAA. Except.
-Heavy wind block jersey
-Bib tights with wind block fronts
-Light booties under the heavy booties
-Liner gloves under wind block insulated gloves

This is kind of the rainy wheel house of winter riding in Oregon. Everything mentioned above should be worn plus a rain jacket.

Temp. Range: 35 Degrees and Below

-SAA  With the addition of.
-Light long sleeve jersey under the heavy wind block jersey or a heavy long sleeve base layer
-Liner gloves under lobster type wind block gloves
-Neck warmer that can also be pulled up over your mouth and nose.
-Heavier wool sock

If you are out in the rain when the temperature is getting this close to freezing. Please use extreme caution out there. And more than likely you should just slump your shoulders and head for the trainer or rollers at this point. I know, I know. It sucks. But better to slog on the trainer for an hour (the absolute longest any human could ever stand to be on the trainer. (recorded fact)) than risk life and limb.

I'm sure there are people out there that will look at this list and tell me I'm on absolute crack (JP and Martin. I can hear you guys saying WTF!?) with these clothing choices and temps. But that's the basic list I've developed in my time out on the roads. And it works for me.

Hope that helps some of you.

Rubber side down,

Big E


  1. All this talk about clothing and no mention of not wearing your tighty whiteys under the Lycra?

  2. That's a good point Patrick. LOL But I guess I kinda always thought that suggestion was obvious. Although I do see it every once in a while. Just the chaffing alone makes me shutter a bit. Not to mention the panty lines...