I recently overheard someone say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. This is the kind of statement that makes me want to hate people as a species a little bit. Of course there such a thing as bad weather. There are also bad people (loads of them), bad ideas (even bigger loads of them), bad advice (especially on the internet) and, despite what your mother told you, there certainly are stupid questions.
Despite being so clever as to render itself useless, there is a sentiment behind the claim that should be taken seriously, and that is the notion that if one is to venture out in bad weather, one should give some consideration to dressing appropriately for it. For example, I routinely see photos of Spanish Pros riding the trainer indoors in wooly hats and leggings. I would never ride indoors with leggings because the most redeeming quality of riding indoors is that you get to stare at your guns shamelessly without worry of being spotted doing so.
A Velominatus should take care to ensure they have a complete wardrobe of kit for different kinds of weather; bibs and jerseys, of course, but also arm and knee warmers, gilets, long sleeve jerseys, overshoes, gloves, caps, winter caps, knee warmers and leggings, and even jackets or rain coats depending on where you live and what kind of weather you encounter.
Always remember that the more you’re wearing, the worse you look. That’s not an opinion – that’s science. Perfection starts with bibs and a jersey, tanned guns, and a sweet set of shades. Next in line is the Flandrian Best, but after that, it’s all downhill, ending with the unfortunate invention of thermal bibs. They may be a necessity under some circumstances, just know they look complete crap, so you will too.
Still, its better than not riding, so as you’re getting ready to kit up for the day, I advise you take into account the following considerations.
- Overdressing is as bad as under dressing. Getting too hot is just as miserable as being too cold, so unless you’re deliberately overdressing in order to lose weight, dress like Goldilocks, not too hot and not too cold.
- Start out cold. Dress for how hard you’ll be riding that day; I like to dress such that I am chilly for the first 15 minutes of the ride because after the blood starts pumping or you hit the first hill, your core temp will rise and you’ll be perfectly dressed.
- Choose layers over bulk. Layers have the advantage that they can be combined in different ways to tune their effect. For example, a jersey with arm warmers and a gilet can be as warm as a long sleeve jersey, but allow you to shed the gilet and arm warmers if you get too warm.
- Windproof is more important than waterproof. If it keeps the water out, it will keep your sweat in as well, no matter what the label says about breathability. Which means you’re getting wet anyway. Windproof layers, on the other hand, will keep the wind from getting through to those wet fabrics so you can stay warm, and breathe much better than do waterproof materials. Unless its the kind of downpour that starts the animals lining up in twos, you won’t find me in a rain jacket.
- No ear muffs. If your ears get cold, get a proper winter cycling cap. We’re not savages after all.