A Cyclist’s Guide to Dressing in Layers
I know when the 2011 winter season started in Northern California. It was Friday night, November 4. I know because Saturday’s Tourning of the Leaves had been canceled because of rain, and I was trying to get ready for the in-town option and couldn’t find my toe warmers or skull cap, neither of which I had needed for the last 9 months, and had no idea what drawer or closet I had last put them in.
So, in case this happens to you, here’s a handy “Cyclist’s Guide to Dressing in Layers” to help you plan ahead as the seasons change. Of course it’s only a guide. Some people seem to be able to wear shorts and sleeveless jerseys right through January. Maybe they don’t own anything else. On the other hand, I would rather be too warm than too cold. Note, this doesn’t take into account rain or wet. I’ll save that for another time.
So, for riding when it’s:
90º F and over:
You really don’t NEED to wear anything except shoes and helmet, (no helmet, no ride,) and a base layer of sunscreen. But since we are a club and do ride in pace lines, let’s assume for the sake of modesty a basic kit of helmet, sweat band, goggles, short fingered gloves, shoes, light weight socks, and please, shorts and sleeveless jersey. I’ll leave the undergarments to you.
80º and over, add or swap:
You can probably get away with the same kit as above. Some folks will want to trade for a short sleeve jersey, but others who are concerned about how their tan lines look in an evening gown will hold out for the sleeveless as long as possible.
70º and over, add or swap:
Definitely want the short sleeves, and you’ll be asking yourself, do I need a base layer or vest today? I’m putting on the sleeveless, high-tech-wicking, base layer myself.
60º and over, add or swap:
Definitely the base layer, and the vest for insurance. Here’s where I add arm warmers as well. Knee warmers or knickers start to sound appealing.
50º and over, add or swap:
Knee warmers/knickers for sure. Bibs add another layer on top. Arm warmers, or just go with a long-sleeved jersey. Full fingered fall gloves. Do I need toe warmers yet?
40º and over, add or swap:
Long tights, short sleeve base layer, long sleeve jersey, winter vest, warm socks, toe and ear warmers.
30º and over, add or swap:
Long sleeve base layer or jacket, winter gloves, heavy socks, full shoe covers, ski mask, and bring your Road ID and Medical Insurance Card just in case you end up on the side of the road after hitting black ice or suffering from hypothermia. Personally, when it’s this cold, I just add another layer of down quilt on my bed and sleep in for a change.
To all the above, add a straight jacket, because you’re certifiably crazy to be riding in these conditions.