Hinault keeps the guns clean.

Cover High Before You Cover Low

by / / 102 posts

With the transitions of seasons occurring all over the world as Summer shifts to Fall in the Northern Hemisphere and Winter to Spring in the Southern, we are faced with the seasonal challenge of how to kit up properly for volatile and variable weather conditions.

One of the most common mistakes made, apart from overdressing, is riders offending our collective sensibilities by inexplicably wearing leg coverings with short sleeve jerseys; an aesthetic faux-pas of monumental proportions. We’ve already discussed the merits of layering when kitting up in your Flandrian Best, and this specifically addresses the oft-abused Point IIV as discussed therein:

Maintain order; if it’s cold enough for knee warmers, it’s cold enough for arm warmers. First come arm warmers, then knee warmers.

While wearing shirt-sleeves and pantaloons is acceptable for civilian attire, doing so with your Cycling kit marks the rider like a greasy Cat 5 tattoo on the calf. The lower half of our bodies is working much harder than our upper bodies, which sit nearly motionless as our guns piston away at the pedals leaving a path of destroyed dreams and broken souls in our wake. The legs need air to breathe, room to roam freely; the caged bird doesn’t sing and covering up the guns unnecessarily with lycra is like caging a wild bird of prey.

There is a certain pleasure to be found in kitting up perfectly for the day’s ride. We deliberate over the temperature, the wind, the likelihood of rain. We lay out our options like a Valet for his nobleman, we may even take a step outside and reconsider our choices. Returning from the ride many hours later, we allow a wry smile to creep across our faces in the knowledge that we nailed our kit today.

  • Expect to be cold when you first step outside. Once the engine is running, it will be pumping out heat; when you’re properly dressed for riding, you will be cold whenever you are standing still. If you’re comfortable standing still, you will overheat once the game is afoot and the engine room is calling for more coals to be heaped on the fire.
  • Remember your layers, and always consider arm warmers and a gilet before a long sleeve jersey and knee warmers before tights. These give you the possibility of micro-adjusting your temperature as the day warms or cools, or if the rains suddenly arrive. Only move to long sleeve jerseys when there is no possibility of overheating.
  • Long-fingered gloves are only allowed when paired up with arm warmers or a long sleeve jersey.
  • Belgian booties are always acceptable in Spring and Fall, and always look the business.
  • Wearing full leg warmers and a long sleeve jersey while enjoying a Pre-Ride espresso and talking shit is ultra-Pro. Deploy this at-will throughout the season, so long as you remove these layers prior to throwing leg over top tube.

// Accessories and Gear // Belgian Affirmations // Etiquette

  1. @KogaLover

    Hmmm, yes; I can see your point. On the other hand: as a none-native speaker, I still find myself baffled on a regular basis by some of the obscure English and American references (at least, obscure for me) on this website, as well as on the Winnipeg Cyclechick blog (and countless others, for that matter.)

    Sometimes I just let it go, but I often look stuff up and try to figure it out. In general, it can be nice to know what people are on about, I think. Live and learn; that’s my motto. (It may also have something to do with the fact that I work as a translator, of course. When I sense that something is meant as a joke, but I don’t ‘get’ it, I take it as a challenge more often than not.)

    For the record: where the Cyclechick is concerned, her post called “One for the Boys” (a follow-up to the “Dressed to Chill”-post), is another prime example of the lady’s talent for double entendre…

  2. @chuckp

    @Matt

    I’d like to address the congregation: Belgian Booties, do you deploy them sans leg warmers? Or do you adhere to the top-down principle without exception? Clearly they are often utilized with exposed Guns during TTs; I’m referring to general cold riding.

    Yes. Booties without leg warmers but with arm warmers.

    Excuse me … my bad. That’s knee warmers. But still need the arm warmers or long-sleeve jersey. Gloves optional.

  3. @Ron

    @LawnCzar

    I’ve never understood knee warmers. I find that I go from shorts directly to knickers. Commit to a bottom length. If it’s knicker weather, it’s well past time for long sleeves.

    Uhhh, if I head out early as and ride for many hours, knickers are going to be far too warm by mid-day with a high sun. Warmers allow me to pull them off when it warms up. I actually haven’t even worn my knickers since I moved from upstate NY to the south a few years ago. Just bibs + Kneekers.

    Not to mention they look better and they can be worn a lot lower than most knickers allow, at least for this Spinaker of a man.

  4. @LawnCzar

    Oh, I get that — I’ve just found that I’m comfortable enough in shorts to sort of power through until it warms up.

    You should be careful with that; you can damage your knees if they are too cold. Consider embro as an alternative.

  5. @frank

    @Ron

    @LawnCzar

    I’ve never understood knee warmers. I find that I go from shorts directly to knickers. Commit to a bottom length. If it’s knicker weather, it’s well past time for long sleeves.

    Uhhh, if I head out early as and ride for many hours, knickers are going to be far too warm by mid-day with a high sun. Warmers allow me to pull them off when it warms up. I actually haven’t even worn my knickers since I moved from upstate NY to the south a few years ago. Just bibs + Kneekers.

    Not to mention they look better and they can be worn a lot lower than most knickers allow, at least for this Spinaker of a man.

    My knee warmers probably come down to mid-calf (OK, I have short legs). But combine that with tall socks and booties, and at least last winter I didn’t need knickers/tights. Of course, I also didn’t ride when it was f**king cold either. But down to about 40 degrees. And when it was that cold (at least that’s cold for me since I’m one of those skinny ectomorph types) I donned a long-sleeve jersey that was a little more substantial and lined with soft fleece-like stuff. Sometimes with wind-stopper arm warmers underneath and a vest (I prefer that to a jacket) for both warmth and wind protection.

  6. @Ccos

    @Matt

    I’d like to address the congregation: Belgian Booties, do you deploy them sans leg warmers? Or do you adhere to the top-down principle without exception? Clearly they are often utilized with exposed Guns during TTs; I’m referring to general cold riding.

    Even when it isn’t cold enough for them, you always need to keep your white ladies clean, so…

    @Matt, you can wear them any damn time you please, and always look the business. I’d be careful wearing insulated overshoes without at least knee warmers, but Belgian Booties are cool any time of the year, in any weather.

    Keep in mind that this does not refer to Lycra overshoes, but to wool overshoes only.

  7. @fignons barber

    I must be way older than most of you fellows. When I started in the 1980’s, it was a nice coat of Vaseline on the knees when it was below 45F (knee warmers had not been discovered yet). For the arms, we cut a hole in the toes of old long white tube socks and used them on our arms (because that’s what Sean Kelly did). Looking PRO was soo much less expensive then.

    Classic! I did it with a long sleeve cotton t-shirt, just cut the sleeves off and pinned them to the jersey sleeves!

  8. @frank

    Upon further review of Le Blaireau in the lead photo above, he is clearly wearing wool booties with shorts. That’s all the validation I need.

  9. What a photo! Fantastic.

    Is that a guy in a Peugeot jersey (and with a headband??) hitting the deck in the background?

    And on the left: Panasonic jersey? (Not sure)

  10. @the Engine

    @Ron

    During the turn over months, I LOVE a jersey with big pockets. Just picked up a new Mavic jersey and though it is meant for warm weather riding, damn, the pockets are awesome. Bigger than those on my V jersey, which are adequate, and much bigger than on my much-liked Torm jersey, which are not quite adequate. Also, while everyone needs to get on the bigger pocket bandwagon, can all jerseys come with at least one zippered pocket? I love being able to zip up my house keys and ride without worry they might fall out, from a bump or when shoving warmers in/out.

    I like my pockets wide and deep enough for a bottle of Post Ride Recovery Ale (a big boy, not a 355 mL) and/or a bottle of rye. Never know when you’ll just happen to have your route send you right past the bottle shop…

    This – is there a pocket size Rule? I’ve always been OCD about having big pockets on all my apparel but, on the other hand, one doesn’t want to attract male camels by shoving unnecessary shite into a droopy gilet. Where does one draw the line?

    Its not the pocket size, its the jersey sag. If you’re not sagging and everything is nicely in place, carry on.

    Pro tip: fold the gillet in thirds and slip it under your jersey; it doesn’t need to go in a pocket.

  11. @KogaLover

    @ErikdR

    Yep, I read that article on winter kit from her. You do not look pro then anymore btw. She’s not very active these days anymore. Maybe too busy managing her minions!

    Here it is: http://winnipegcyclechick.com/dressed-to-chill/

    Oh, she is a genius for sure; she even paid a visit to @Gianni when she stopped by on Maui. Apparently a class lady and lovely family to boot.

  12. @chuckp

    @frank

    @Ron

    @LawnCzar

    I’ve never understood knee warmers. I find that I go from shorts directly to knickers. Commit to a bottom length. If it’s knicker weather, it’s well past time for long sleeves.

    Uhhh, if I head out early as and ride for many hours, knickers are going to be far too warm by mid-day with a high sun. Warmers allow me to pull them off when it warms up. I actually haven’t even worn my knickers since I moved from upstate NY to the south a few years ago. Just bibs + Kneekers.

    Not to mention they look better and they can be worn a lot lower than most knickers allow, at least for this Spinaker of a man.

    My knee warmers probably come down to mid-calf (OK, I have short legs). But combine that with tall socks and booties, and at least last winter I didn’t need knickers/tights. Of course, I also didn’t ride when it was f**king cold either. But down to about 40 degrees. And when it was that cold (at least that’s cold for me since I’m one of those skinny ectomorph types) I donned a long-sleeve jersey that was a little more substantial and lined with soft fleece-like stuff. Sometimes with wind-stopper arm warmers underneath and a vest (I prefer that to a jacket) for both warmth and wind protection.

    I’m pretty short, so knickers usually come to about mid calf on me. I’m comfy in shorts down to maybe 60, shift to knickers in the 40s and 50s, then to full length (and layers thereof) down to the 20s. I’m in DC (though hopefully moving to Colorado soon), so don’t see crazy fluctuations in temperature that make choosing that difficult even if I’m on the road for several hours. Guessing the Rockies may change that dynamic.

  13. @frank

    @KogaLover

    @ErikdR

    Yep, I read that article on winter kit from her. You do not look pro then anymore btw. She’s not very active these days anymore. Maybe too busy managing her minions!

    Here it is: http://winnipegcyclechick.com/dressed-to-chill/

    Oh, she is a genius for sure; she even paid a visit to @Gianni when she stopped by on Maui. Apparently a class lady and lovely family to boot.

    Yes, she does come across as a class act. Rides like a badass and her writing is clever, bawdy and humorous – what’s not to like?

    I particularly enjoyed her posts on the subject of “The Guerciotti project”

  14. @sthilzy

    Mind you have seen some hard-asses riders in shorts kit in 5’C winter mornings! Me thinks how do you do that?!

    I don’t think they are hard asses, just morons. It’s a common thing in Aus (and to a slightly lesser extent in NZ) to see council workers etc wandering around in shorts in the middle of winter. They’re probably freezing their nuts off, but think they’re “real men, tough” for doing it.

  15. @LawnCzar

    I’ve never understood knee warmers. I find that I go from shorts directly to knickers. Commit to a bottom length. If it’s knicker weather, it’s well past time for long sleeves.

    Am I the only one that love, love, loves riding on a cold, rainy day with shorts, arm warmers, and casquette? It calls to mind great old race photos and inspires greater V when your rear wheel slips going up the steeper ramps.

    Knickers are an abomination. Shorts with leg warmers if need be, you need that delineation. Knickers are for Pilates.

    I haven’t even owned leg warmers for maybe ten years, always knee warmers, just pull them a little lower when it’s really cold, like KT13 cold where it wasn’t much above 0º for the entire trip. Need that little bit of gap to really look the biz.

  16. And… best bit of winter kit ever: thermal bib shorts.

  17. I have some terrific Campagnolo Sportswear lightweight knit knee warmers. The fit great (far better than lycra) and keep the chill off in a wide range of conditions. When it’s time to take them off, I tuck them in the back of my bibs, they sit flat and take up very little room.

    Too bad Campagnolo killed their clothing line, wish I bought a few pairs.

  18. @brett

    And… best bit of winter kit ever: thermal bib shorts.

    considering ale prr ponente bib shorts _ can never be too sure what pad you’ll get with trying another brand _ castelli progetto x is currently the leader board

  19. @brett

    “probably” sounds like speculation – try it and you will not need to wince on cold mornings

  20. @fignons barber

    I must be way older than most of you fellows. When I started in the 1980’s, it was a nice coat of Vaseline on the knees when it was below 45F (knee warmers had not been discovered yet).

    Everyone seems to mention getting a massage or to clean road rash as the origin of shaving, but I think it’s this. Applying Vasoline in cold weather would be a mess with hairy legs, so they shaved the guns. And having said shaved guns would instantly identify the hardmen who revel in the glory of Rule #9 conditions. Want to look like a badass pro? Rule #33.

    I have no evidence for this theory, but it makes sense to me.

  21. @brett

    Ah, but in that delineation between shorts and knee warmers lies moral peril — the potential to violate Rule #82. And they’re not like arm warmers where you have an out and can argue that you were putting the hammer down…

    A pair of kickers with the right fit, on the other hand, can nail the gap between them and the top of your socks and you don’t need to pull a Luca Paolini and use safety pins to make sure they stay up. Et voila.

  22. I tend to

    @frank

    @LawnCzar

    Oh, I get that — I’ve just found that I’m comfortable enough in shorts to sort of power through until it warms up.

    You should be careful with that; you can damage your knees if they are too cold. Consider embro as an alternative.

    I tend to reach for the embrocation before reaching for the knee warmers. I use embro when the autumn mornings have a chilly bite to them, until the later transitional weeks of autumn. I find that a bit more embro can keep your guns warm and glistening for a long while.

    I also thoroughly enjoy the warm, tingly trace sensations that embro leaves after having showered and dressed for work. The feeling of muted warmth and tender guns give me a feeling of time well spent laying down the V on another early morning training session.

  23. A-bit high, but got me hooked on knee warmers, 1991

    Edwig Van Hooydonck, Tour of Flanders

  24. Man, Winning was just the absolute best mag for us English speakers, innit.

  25. @nobby

    I have to admit that I wear knee warmers pretty much the whole year round in the UK, only escewing them when riding on the continent. The reason? Well, I have very, very ugly knees and I feel thet the crime of wearing warmers year round outweights the (arguably heinous) crime of forcing my aesthetically challenging patellas on my fellow riders.

    It’s okay for SpiderMonkey to bare his minging joints because a) he gets paid to and b) he’s good. I have neither attribute so covered they will remain.

    Sorry

    I will say in my defence that my warmers ALWAYS match the rest of my kit, and often have a nod toward the colour scheme on my bike too.

    Im with you on the knee warmers all winter Nobby. I always feel like I should be in Hot Gossip with tights and it makes me keep up the gun shaving too, but I’m strictly shorts come April

  26. @LawnCzar

    I’ve never understood knee warmers. I find that I go from shorts directly to knickers. Commit to a bottom length. If it’s knicker weather, it’s well past time for long sleeves.

    Am I the only one that love, love, loves riding on a cold, rainy day with shorts, arm warmers, and casquette? It calls to mind great old race photos and inspires greater V when your rear wheel slips going up the steeper ramps.

    No you’re not the only one

  27. 1. Eddy Bosberg. Cobbles. Uphill. Out of saddle. On the TOPS!

    2. Old school=no leg warmers of any kind for races, ever. Only embro. (and BTW, the Badger had a team car to put all of his extra shit in, pockets be damned)

    3. Old school #B=cover legs under 65 deg. F while training. Our juniors coach used to tell us to suck it up if we were too warm believe it or not. Pull out your old copy of Eddie B’s book or similar.

    4. Do not confuse racing and training. Do not confuse group rides and training.

    If you always want to look like a pro, look like they do when they train, and look like they do when they race. They will laugh their asses off if you show up for a training ride with bare legs when it’s 50 deg. C and brag about how hard you are.

  28. @ErikdR

    What a photo! Fantastic.

    Is that a guy in a Peugeot jersey (and with a headband??) hitting the deck in the background?

    If I were to guess, I’d say Gilbert Duclos Lasalle.

  29. @fignons barber

    Duclos Lasalle sounds like an excellent guess to me.

  30. @ErikdR

    What a photo! Fantastic.

    Is that a guy in a Peugeot jersey (and with a headband??) hitting the deck in the background?

    And on the left: Panasonic jersey? (Not sure)

    Probably Francis Castaing in the Peugeot jersey. He was a headband man back in the day.

  31. @Matt

    @frank

    Upon further review of Le Blaireau in the lead photo above, he is clearly wearing wool booties with shorts. That’s all the validation I need.

    In the 1980 L-B-L Hinault wore blue vinyl overshoes. I’m amazed it was the feeling in a couple of fingers he lost – those overshoes sucked big time – he’s lucky he didn’t lose toes to frostbite!

  32. I’m not 100% but I think they were Detto Pietro overshoes – the logo was a couple of circles (spinning wheels?), located on the outer edge of the heel.

  33. @frank

    @fignons barber

    I must be way older than most of you fellows. When I started in the 1980’s, it was a nice coat of Vaseline on the knees when it was below 45F (knee warmers had not been discovered yet). For the arms, we cut a hole in the toes of old long white tube socks and used them on our arms (because that’s what Sean Kelly did). Looking PRO was soo much less expensive then.

    Classic! I did it with a long sleeve cotton t-shirt, just cut the sleeves off and pinned them to the jersey sleeves!

    Flanders 1986: Johan van de Velde (Panasonic), Sean Kelly (Kas),Steve Bauer La Vie Claire), Guido Bontempi (Carrera), Francis Castaing (Peugeot).Kelly pipped in the sprint by Adri van der Poel Kwantum).

  34. You guys probably know of this, but Sean Kelly has a blog with some great tales of his races…

  35. @wiscot

    I’m not 100% but I think they were Detto Pietro overshoes – the logo was a couple of circles (spinning wheels?), located on the outer edge of the heel.

    That two circles/wheels logo would have been Duegi.

  36. @wiscot

    Strong work, @wiscot. Thanks!

    Is Steve Bauer on a Look in that picture, then? WIth clipless pedals?

  37. @ErikdR

    He’s on an Hinault, but with Look pedals.

  38. @Oli

    Cheers!

  39. @pistard

    @wiscot

    I’m not 100% but I think they were Detto Pietro overshoes – the logo was a couple of circles (spinning wheels?), located on the outer edge of the heel.

    That two circles/wheels logo would have been Duegi.

    How stupid I have been throwing these away only a couple of years ago. I said Peter

  40. @KogaLover

    This article “leave-no-bike-behind” applies to kit as well.

    It’s a fine balance between to let go or not to let go. Recently off loaded kit online as have lost weight and too loose on me, but will restock with sold kit funds. I was told by an old old timer – “don’t hang on to old gear”. That comment torments me every time I step into my garage! manage to keep these puppies – 80’s, 90’s, 00’s. Hmmm, time for a new puppy!

  41. @pistard

    @wiscot

    I’m not 100% but I think they were Detto Pietro overshoes – the logo was a couple of circles (spinning wheels?), located on the outer edge of the heel.

    That two circles/wheels logo would have been Duegi.

    Dammit! I was vaccillating between Detto and Duegi! I should have done with Duegi – I had a pair of Duegi shoes (still have ’em – plastic sole, leather uppers as soft as buttah!)

  42. @universo

    @brett

    And… best bit of winter kit ever: thermal bib shorts.

    considering ale prr ponente bib shorts _ can never be too sure what pad you’ll get with trying another brand _ castelli progetto x is currently the leader board

    The pad used in the PRR winter bib short is the 4H “MEDIUM DISTANCE” bottom in elastic micro-fibre with padding strategically positioned in contact points. In the perineal and ischiatic area, the 90 kg/cm2 density padding is calibrated and breathable on all covered points to ensure utmost protection against collisions and stresses on road. The central exhaust was thought to protect nerve endings for improved support, also on long distances.

    The lateral shaped wings are flexible and follow the body movements while pedalling, adapting to the cyclist’s anatomy for high comfort. Thnx Eva

  43. @KogaLover

    My excuse for throwing them away was because I threw them away before I picked up cycling again and way before discovering this site. But they were of higher quality than my current silver bullets, although they could not fit clipless pedal cleats anymore. I had to use nails and a hammer back then to fit them to the thick hard leather soles.

  44. Sad to report that there was a couple of peeps breaking the bare arm-leg warmer violation on Saturdays club ride.

    I on the other hand was rocking with bare legs,Castelli booties,arm warmers and a Sportful hot pack gilet*,the latter was taken off half-way round and being tiny when packed stuffed in one of the jersey pockets.

    *One of my fave items of clothing;amazingly light,packs small yet still stops a chilly breeze.Sadly was ripped after an off a few weeks ago(with a nice Castelli jersey),but repaired with some self-adhesive fabric used for kite and sail repairs.

  45. @KogaLover

    I’ve still got my original pair of these shoes, although sadly after a few seasons of hard racing they’re not in exactly mint condition any more…

  46. @KogaLover

    @wiscot

    @Oli

    Rescued my 80s Detto Pietros a couple years ago; sadly, after 25+ years in my parents’ basement they were beyond salvaging. Bought some NOS Duegis thinking I’d wear them for vintage rides, but they haven’t been out of the house yet. Beautiful and comfortable, but I fear actually riding with clips and straps again would destroy any lingering nostalgia.

  47. It’s hella uncomfortable, that’s for sure!

  48. @Oli

    @KogaLover

    I’ve still got my original pair of these shoes, although sadly after a few seasons of hard racing they’re not in exactly mint condition any more…

    That makes my loss even worse: I never did any hard racing with them, just rides, hence they were still in mint condition when I threw them away, including the original box, I even greased the soles to keep them intact.

  49. @Oli

    It’s hella uncomfortable, that’s for sure!

    Like another duct tape joke.

  50. @sthilzy

    A-bit high, but got me hooked on knee warmers, 1991

    Edwig Van Hooydonck, Tour of Flanders

    Amazing — this was the first issue of Winning that I ever scooped up at my local bike shop (Wheelbase in Frederick, MD). Such an education.

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