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Fall Cycling Essentials

21 September, 2018

Fall is officially here this weekend. As the weather begins to transition into cooler and wet temperatures, choosing the right clothing and gear for your ride can be a tricky endeavor to ensuring you are noticeable, dry, and warm enough. We all love cooler temps for our adventures but one of the tricky parts of cycling in autumn is regulating your body temperature and having the flexibility to deal with the ever-changing elements. To help you navigate into the new season, here are a few handy items and tips to keep you warm, dry, and happy during the changes of seasons.

Base Layer
Wearing a wicking base layer will help to keep you dry and warm, even during a hard, sweaty ride. I recommend a mesh base layer or merino layer for cooler rides, to be worn directly against the skin under your jersey. This Rapha merino base layer will move the sweat away from your skin, transferring it to the next outer layer. Or if you find yourself in cooler days of the season, a merino wool jersey would do the trick as well under your wind vest or jacket.

Wind Vest/ Jacket - Keeping the wind out can be key. Adding a strong wind chill to already low temperatures can make a ride almost unbearable at times. Keep the wind at bay by wearing a wind proof vest or wind proof jacket. Your chest is very sensitive to changes in temperature, so be sure to cover your skin as much as possible. 

Thermal Pants  When the temperature starts to drop below 50 degrees, it’s a good idea to cover your knees from getting too cold. When your muscles get cold you run the risk of injury. There are several options for coverage in this area.  Cycling pants are available as tights, with thermal, water proof and windstopper fabrics - great for multiple hour rides with changing temperatures. You can also wear without chamois with cycling shorts underneath, this way you can use your collection of summer shorts with one pair of pants. Or you can invest in a pair like Castelli's Meno Wind Bib Tights.

Leg / Arm Warmers – I always pack arm and leg warmers with me this time of year, depending on the weather. If you go on the route of wearing shorts or short sleeves on your ride, layering is key. Leg and arm warmers don’t take up much room and are great for temperature control. Just slide them up or down to adjust your comfort level. Additionally, they stow easily in any pack.


Full Finger / Windproof Gloves I like my full fingered gloves for temperatures in the 50s and 60s, but prefer my wind stopper gloves for temperatures the 30s and 40s. Look for something waterproof if you’ll be getting wet. Cold hands are miserable!

Cycling Cap / Head Band - A t
hin micro-fleece head band or cap can keep your ears and forehead warm. A micro fleece headband or wool headbands are nice when you need to vent more heat out the top of the helmet. A cycling cap with ear warmers can help keep your whole head warm as well as your ears, this option is more recommended on cooler days.

Wool Socks - A lot of women suffer from cold toes and fingers. We regulate heat in our bodies differently from men so keeping our feet dry and warm can be a challenge in the cold weather. Nice wool socks are your best bet, insulating even when wet. In fact, wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without becoming damp or clammy. Wool also does a good job at managing odor. Another tip for warmth is to make sure your shoes aren’t too tight when wearing a thicker sock. A shoe that’s too tight will decrease circulation and decrease the size of the warm air pocket around your foot.

Shoe Covers  If you’ll be using cycling shoes, you’ll want to get some shoe covers. Cycling shoes are heavily vented for warm weather use, and may let in too much cold air. Shoe covers come in small slip-on toe covers, thin booties that cover the whole foot, and even thick insulated neoprene booties for really cold days. Shoe covers slide over your cycling shoes, and have cutouts on the bottom to allow the use of clipless pedals. Because of this, they don’t work well with flat pedals.  If you’re using flat pedals, simply switch to a warmer shoe such as a waterproof insulated hiking boot.

Buff - Protect your face and neck and from the chill. A mirco fleece or wool neck warmer or buff will keep you warm while moving damp breath away from your body. 

Glasses - Keep your eyes protected from wind, rain, and autumn tree leaf allergies (yes this is a seasonal thing!). Most of us know the feeling of having your neck buff covering your mouth but the damp breath moves into your glasses - proper cycling glasses keep that from happening so you may want to invest in a good pair.


Lights - With the sun setting earlier and cloudier days, it's key to being visible.
 Whenever you set out for a ride, plan accordingly. Get a red blinker for the rear that mounts to the bike or your pack, and a decent headlight for the front. A good bright headlight will light your way and warn oncoming cars of your approach. Don’t forget to check the batteries if they haven’t been used for a while.

Fenders - Fenders help protect you and your fellow riders from water and mud splatters while you ride. There are tow types of fenders designed with easy clip-on attachment systems or sturdier bolt-on attachment systems. Clip-on fenders are nice for quick installation before the rainy season and easy removal when you need to lighten your bike up for a long ride or race. Clip-on fenders are the easiest option for bikes that don’t have threaded fittings for bolts, but they typically don’t provide the same protection as bolt-on fenders.

During those in-between months, when the temperature is changing constantly throughout the day, it's wise to regulate your temperature on the bike through wearing, or packing in your jersey pocket, additional layers of kit. Start with a base layer, then jersey, Gilet, arm warmers, leg/knee warmers under your bib shorts. Carry in your back pocket a rain cape or wind proof jacket. This will then give you several options on the ride no matter what the conditions. You can always wear more and then peel off the layers as the day warms up. Remember it's much better to be warm than to be cold on a ride. 

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