Look Pro: Dress for Success

A cold morning ride on Keepers Tour 2013. Photo: Brett Kennedy
A cold morning ride on Keepers Tour 2013. Photo: Brett Kennedy

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.

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216 Replies to “Look Pro: Dress for Success”

  1. @PeakInTwoYears

    Back on topic. Indulge me with a response.

    You’re heading out for an 80- to 100-km ride. There are five rated climbs on the route, with corresponding descents. It’s 5 degrees centigrade (celsius, whatever the fuck you call it) at home, and part of the route-after a sustained climb-follows a ridge line that’s always colder than anyplace else around. It’s not raining now, but it’s quite liable to. It’s not windy at home, but it’s always windy on parts of the route. What are you wearing on top, including under your helmet?

    Personally, I would be in either a jersey with arm warmers and gilet, or an ls jersey with gilet, depending on how hot I’d expect to get going uphill. Fold the gilet flat and tuck between the jersey and bibs on the way up, put it on/take it off while riding for all the cold bits and call it good. At those temps, I’d wear a cotton cycling cap and possibly take it off if I overheat while climbing.

    I don’t reach for the wooly hat unless its  a little colder usually.

  2. @ChrissyOne

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Back on topic. Indulge me with a response.

    You’re heading out for an 80- to 100-km ride. There are five rated climbs on the route, with corresponding descents. It’s 5 degrees centigrade (celsius, whatever the fuck you call it) at home, and part of the route-after a sustained climb-follows a ridge line that’s always colder than anyplace else around.

    I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned carful route planning yet, but I learned my lesson here.
    I set out on what was to be a 120km ride last week, and all was going well until the 80km mark, when I came to a long, 2k spun-out downhill that descended all the way to sea level. I went from chilly-but-comfortable to bloody bonked, like that. The next climb helped a bit, but by then I’d come back to the fog – the sun was gone and the wraiths were chasing me. I was never able to get going hard enough to warm back up. The killer-there was one more 75 meter descent to go, straight down into the Dead Marshes. That’s when the MWTH slid up beside me and insisted we have a visit, so I sat down (meaning collapsed clumsily) onto the cold concrete and we chatted for a while. He encouraged me to make it an even 100km and hounded my last, miserable, shamefully agonizing 5k home. My takeaway was this: place your descents carefully.

    Wraiths, MWTH, Death Marshes, the mixing of dork genres is expert. Top marks. Excellent story and excellent advice.

    The lack of fog was another huge factor for sure, which brings me to another point – until they make the proper kit for the inside of my lungs, cold, moist air will still be the great leveler.

    Man, that cold fog is the pits, ain’t it? I will chill you right to the fucking bone.

    As an asthmatic, that cold air will continue to be the best V02 training I can find, sucking air in through a coffee straw and all that.

    @Gianni

    @frank

    @MaLóL

    Gabba rules!!! I bet Frank has already at least a piece of Gabba equipment.

    Hellsyeah I do! Gianni bought one for his mauka showers but realized Hawaii rules way too hard for such gear. So he sent it my way and my oh my, that is a fantastic jersey.

    Even I am not such a big pussy as that. I bought it as the nuclear option in case it rained during our KT2012 Roubaix riding. It would not be useful on Maui unless riding at the summit on those occasional snowy stormy days. Oye, that’s not going to happen.

    Sorry my man, if I have sullied your image. It was not my intent. 

     

  3. @wiscot

    I’m sure ISU gave Larry Bird (aka the ugliest white man to ever play in the NBA, and lets-not-talk-about-the-mustache) a degree. He put them on the map for sure. The hick from French Lick was ugly, but applied Rule V in the fullest way possible on the basketball court.

    Long before I Followed the V, I followed Larry Bird. I grew up wanting to be him, sadly, I’m about a foot shorter.

  4. @frank

    @teleguy57

    in other news, Steve told me he’s starting my new ti Hampsten Gran Paradiso today! Time to gather the few remaining bits for the build. Woohoo!

    HOLY FUCK HELLS YEAH!

    I take this as an emphatic endorsement — even got the plural on the second curse….

  5. @Ron That was rant-tastic.  Thanks for that!

    And as long as we’re comparing schools, it has been said (by my father-in-law) that the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee is the Harvard of the Midwest.

  6. @@ mrs engine

    Jeez, you lot are worse than Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police on E! News. Quote; @AI_S, Problem with most bib tights is that they’re just so garish – Dahling! OOH, what is a a boy to wear? Leg warmers on, or leg warmers off? To thermal or not to thermal? The black kit with the red trim or the white kit with the black trim? Choices, choices. Do not ever criticize your wives/partners for taking so long to get ready ever again! Ya big load of Jessies! (as we say in Sunny Scotland @Marcus)

    I’m surprised at the rant, @mrs.engine.  Surely you’ve been around this site long enough to understand that obsessive niggling over the tiniest details of kit is one of the hallmarks of the Velominati?

  7. I spent an awesome day with the very well dressed guys at Team Giant-Shimano, riding in their team car on Stage 2 of the Dubai Tour – and with a win for Marcel Kittel to boot.

    If I had a tail it would have been wagging.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/ChrisO/2014.02.06.07.14.47/1//”/]

  8. @PeakInTwoYears

    Back on topic. Indulge me with a response.

    You’re heading out for an 80- to 100-km ride. There are five rated climbs on the route, with corresponding descents. It’s 5 degrees centigrade (celsius, whatever the fuck you call it) at home, and part of the route-after a sustained climb-follows a ridge line that’s always colder than anyplace else around. It’s not raining now, but it’s quite liable to. It’s not windy at home, but it’s always windy on parts of the route. What are you wearing on top, including under your helmet?

    I know I’d be packing a spatula so my ride partner’s can peel me off the pavement after the second categorized climb.

  9. And this video is worthy of a post in its own right – do we do Anatomy of a Video, because this one shows beautifully the art of the water carrier and the sticky bottle.

  10. @ChrisO I’m not sure what I’m more jealous of, the ride-along or the warm sunshine and clear roads (it was -9F/-22C at my house this morning).

  11. There’s an argument; at least I’m making an argument, that at this time of year, as I’m truly training properly, keeping warm can be tricky.  I don’t give a crap what my base layers look like, but everything above that needs to be just so.  No excuse at any time of the year to look shit.

  12. ChrisO – team car?! You are make us all hate winter a bit more. Having your own team support car in a race last week, now riding shotgun? This isn’t fair. But, at least you shared that video.

    Oh boy, so the lace up shoes have made it to the peloton via Phinney. I can’t wait for him to have to float back to the car to have a mechanic tie his shoe. “Taylor, you realize they make these things with dials and straps these days, right?” I’ve also been waiting for someone to post some of the shots of him at the pre-race press conference on the beach. He looked…interesting.

    The Oracle – If I can’t get fired up in the depths of winter, than getting fired up during the heat of the VSP would look more like show, than substance. I’m vigilant around the calendar.

    I’ve never been to Milwaukee, it’s definitely a place I’d like to visit, then head on up to lake country. Having spent time in Geneva, NY, I’m curious to see Geneva, WI.

  13. @The Oracle

    I’m surprised at the rant, @mrs.engine. Surely you’ve been around this site long enough to understand that obsessive niggling over the tiniest details of kit is one of the hallmarks of the Velominati?

    I think @mrs.engine is pointing out that clearly we are in touch with our feminine side……..

  14. Is Marcel K. trying to steal the SHITPP (Shortest Hemline in the PRO Peloton) crown from Tommy V.? Maybe just soaking up the Dubai sun before heading back to Europe, in case the weather in the early going is like last year.

  15. @Mike_P

    …I don’t give a crap what my base layers look like, but everything above that needs to be just so…

    Nope. It needs to start with the base layer. The process of building up the feeling of awesomeness is a complex one requiring that each layer is just so. Any weak link in the process and the illusion might crumble at the first turn of the pedal.

  16. @The Oracle  I know I’m definitely more jealous of the weather.  You must live in a similar climate to me. -20C right now, but it’ll warm up to a balmy -10C after the weekend.

  17. @Chris

    @Mike_P

    …I don’t give a crap what my base layers look like, but everything above that needs to be just so…

    Nope. It needs to start with the base layer. The process of building up the feeling of awesomeness is a complex one requiring that each layer is just so. Any weak link in the process and the illusion might crumble at the first turn of the pedal.

    Oh bollox – you know I’m going to have to go base layer shopping now!!  Where’s that Rapha catalogue?

  18. @Cyclops

    I started “living the dream” again by working at a bike shop again. I like that they carry Endura’s clothing line but I loathe the number of YJAs hanging on the racks.

    Which shop is it? Will look at Endura. “Dream on” — Aerosmith

  19. As someone who has a tendency to overheat at the slightest effort I find I am compelled to get my clothing right at the outset. Not likely to see me carrying unnecessary bulk! This means I have to buy the best, lightweight/pack-down kit, at least it justifies my regular purchases from the LBS in my own mind.

  20. @frank

    those temps, I’d wear a cotton cycling cap and possibly take it off if I overheat while climbing.

    I don’t reach for the wooly hat unless its a little colder usually.

    That was Sunday’s ride I was describing, and I got an ice cream headache on one of the descents while wearing a thin wool cap. And I even grew my buzzcut out for the winter.

    Toandos Peninsula, between Hood Canal and Dabob Bay? Some decent climbing, but the ridge is always fucking cold and usually windy and wet.  @ChrissyOne‘s LOTRs references resonate there.

  21. @frank

    Our small town/country doctor told us that you lose 80% of your body heat out of your head and would chastise people at church who did not wear a hat in the winter. I’ll always remember that.

  22. @Mike_P

    Oh bollox – you know I’m going to have to go base layer shopping now!! Where’s that Rapha catalogue?

    No, dude. Go to DeFeet for base layers.

  23. @Ron

    ChrisO – team car?! You are make us all hate winter a bit more. Having your own team support car in a race last week, now riding shotgun? This isn’t fair. But, at least you shared that video.

    Oh boy, so the lace up shoes have made it to the peloton via Phinney. I can’t wait for him to have to float back to the car to have a mechanic tie his shoe. “Taylor, you realize they make these things with dials and straps these days, right?” I’ve also been waiting for someone to post some of the shots of him at the pre-race press conference on the beach. He looked…interesting.

    The Oracle – If I can’t get fired up in the depths of winter, than getting fired up during the heat of the VSP would look more like show, than substance. I’m vigilant around the calendar.

    I’ve never been to Milwaukee, it’s definitely a place I’d like to visit, then head on up to lake country. Having spent time in Geneva, NY, I’m curious to see Geneva, WI.

    Ron, between me and the Oracle, we can take you on the best rides in SE Wisconsin. Geneva will be too busy with big ass fancy SUVs. I’ve got miles of empty farm roads around me.

  24. @ChrisO Very jealous of the experience. Have to say, that Giant kit really is one of the nicest, classiest kits I’ve seen in a long time. Mind you, the blue, black white combo is catnip for me. I stopped buying PRO team kit ages ago, but I do have a Giant bike . . .

  25. @Cyclops

    I started “living the dream” again by working at a bike shop again. I like that they carry Endura’s clothing line but I loathe the number of YJAs hanging on the racks.

    Reading this, I was like, “Why the fuck is he talking about clothing..?”

    Then I remembered what the article was about. I was so distracted by Ron’s medication having worn off and him rekindling the War of Northern Aggression here that I forgot what it looked like to be on-subject.

  26. @Mike_P

    No excuse at any time of the year to look shit.

    This. Also, the skinnier you get, the harder it is to dial in your temperature. Small drops seem to matter a lot more.

    @Chris

    @Mike_P

    …I don’t give a crap what my base layers look like, but everything above that needs to be just so…

    Nope. It needs to start with the base layer. The process of building up the feeling of awesomeness is a complex one requiring that each layer is just so. Any weak link in the process and the illusion might crumble at the first turn of the pedal.

     

    I think this depends on your level of OCD. I’m with you, but I can understand @Mike_P’s position if he’s less gifted in in obsessive behavior.

  27. @cyclebrarian Turns out that’s based on a military study from the 50’s where they studied people’s heat loss in winter who were…wait for it…not wearing hats. Of course they lost MOST of their heat through their heads, they were wearing great big ol’ parkas and what not. If they weren’t wearing shoes then every damn fool would be talking about how much heat we lose through our feet.

    Thus ends today’s nerd rant.

  28. @PeakInTwoYears

    US Army Survival Manual:FM 21-76; US Department of the Army, 1970:148.

    Vreeman, R.C., Carroll, A.E.  Festive Medical Myths. BMJ 2008;337:a2769

    Made me go there, sorry. Nothing though about proper kit choices in those.

  29. @antihero

    The “Harvard of The South” is Vanderbilt University, and @Ron obviously has a grievance against the femme undergrads. @Ron, I suggest the application of 20 repeats of Pulltight Hill, followed by a long meditation on the merits of young women in yoga pants whilst recovering at the Yazoo brewery.

    Damn them, they told me Tulane University was the “Harvard of the South” when I went there for one year. How many Harvards of the South are needed?

  30. @frank

    Sorry my man, if I have sullied your image. It was not my intent.

    No worries, my image is pretty sullied already on this site. And it should have been your intent.

  31. @Cjcosgrove

         Very interesting and probably why the doctor (who was a very sweet man) sounded like a Drill Sgt. when he said it.

  32. @Gianni

    @antihero

    The “Harvard of The South” is Vanderbilt University, and @Ron obviously has a grievance against the femme undergrads. @Ron, I suggest the application of 20 repeats of Pulltight Hill, followed by a long meditation on the merits of young women in yoga pants whilst recovering at the Yazoo brewery.

    Damn them, they told me Tulane University was the “Harvard of the South” when I went there for one year. How many Harvards of the South are needed?

    Maybe Harvard is the Tulane of the north?

  33. @Ron 
        Me and all my friends growing up wanted to be Larry Legend. All we did (even in the winter months) is play basketball after school and on the weekends. I miss those days.

  34. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Mike_P

    Oh bollox – you know I’m going to have to go base layer shopping now!! Where’s that Rapha catalogue?

    No, dude. Go to DeFeet for base layers.

    Absolutely, I’ve got merino base layers from both companies; they’re both good but if the the DeFeet one isn’t in the laudry pile, it’s the one i’ll go for every time.

  35. @frank

    @Chris

    @Mike_P

    …I don’t give a crap what my base layers look like, but everything above that needs to be just so…

    Nope. It needs to start with the base layer. The process of building up the feeling of awesomeness is a complex one requiring that each layer is just so. Any weak link in the process and the illusion might crumble at the first turn of the pedal.

    I think this depends on your level of OCD. I’m with you, but I can understand @Mike_P’s position if he’s less gifted in in obsessive behavior.

    I never thought of myself as OCD in anyway but over the last couple of years it’s been creeping in here and there. Not sure whats brought it on; the need to have everything just so when cycling, a futile defiance at the constant mess created by three kids, a bit of both or a gentle decline into being an angry old fart.

  36. @PeakInTwoYears

    @frank

    those temps, I’d wear a cotton cycling cap and possibly take it off if I overheat while climbing.

    I don’t reach for the wooly hat unless its a little colder usually.

    That was Sunday’s ride I was describing, and I got an ice cream headache on one of the descents while wearing a thin wool cap. And I even grew my buzzcut out for the winter.

    Toandos Peninsula, between Hood Canal and Dabob Bay? Some decent climbing, but the ridge is always fucking cold and usually windy and wet. @ChrissyOne‘s LOTRs references resonate there.

    My rides were on the Key Peninsula down here in the south. I feel you pain (when I can feel my fingers, that is). This morning’s motorcycle ride in 19 degree temp almost cost me a few. >.<

  37. @Ron

    Is Marcel K. trying to steal the SHITPP (Shortest Hemline in the PRO Peloton) crown from Tommy V.? Maybe just soaking up the Dubai sun before heading back to Europe, in case the weather in the early going is like last year.

    Surely, Marcel is not going to engage in multiple “hemlines,” as that would risk violation of Rule #7.

  38. @Teocalli

    @The Oracle

    I’m surprised at the rant, @mrs.engine. Surely you’ve been around this site long enough to understand that obsessive niggling over the tiniest details of kit is one of the hallmarks of the Velominati?

    I think @mrs.engine is pointing out that clearly we are in touch with our feminine side……..

    Yet another hallmark…

  39. @Ron You may be one of the only persons I’ve heard describe Milwaukee as a place they’d definitely like to visit.  Not that it’s not worth visiting–only that people don’t usually think of it that way.

    I’ll second @wiscot–Geneva, WI is about as memorable as Belgium, WI, which is to say, not at all.  You could go to Pittsville, WI, which has the dubious distinction of being the exact geographic center of the state.  The state is full of beautiful rolling countryside and some unexpectedly challenging cycling routes, however.  By all means, if you ever find yourself in the area, let us know.

  40. @ChrissyOne

    This morning’s motorcycle ride

    I looked like the kid in “Christmas Story” walking out to my truck this morning. I would have added one more snowmobile suit (heated, preferably) if I’d been riding a motorcycle.

  41. @@ mrs engine

    Jeez, you lot are worse than Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police on E! News. Quote; @AI_S, Problem with most bib tights is that they’re just so garish – Dahling! OOH, what is a a boy to wear? Leg warmers on, or leg warmers off? To thermal or not to thermal? The black kit with the red trim or the white kit with the black trim? Choices, choices. Do not ever criticize your wives/partners for taking so long to get ready ever again! Ya big load of Jessies! (as we say in Sunny Scotland @Marcus)

    God I love this…Ya big load of Jessies!

    In New England it’s Sallies. As in, “Leg warmers? What, have you become Italian? You are such a fuckin’ Sally.”

  42. @Nate

    @teleguy57

    in other news, Steve told me he’s starting my new ti Hampsten Gran Paradiso today! Time to gather the few remaining bits for the build. Woohoo!

    There better be pics!

    Come ça?

  43. @Ron

    Oh boy, so the lace up shoes have made it to the peloton via Phinney. I can’t wait for him to have to float back to the car to have a mechanic tie his shoe. “Taylor, you realize they make these things with dials and straps these days, right?” I’ve also been waiting for someone to post some of the shots of him at the pre-race press conference on the beach. He looked…interesting.

    He’s been wearing the lace up Giros for about two years….

  44. @teleguy57 Bel mezzo.  I’d hate for you to get hurt on it, so please have Hampco send it to me for testing.

    @all What is this “Harvard of the South” crap.  I’ve always heard Southerns say even more witty things, like “Harvard is the Duke of the North.”

  45. @frank

    @Jamie

    “Too cold is better than too hot,” works fine for that 90 minute training ride.

    Beyond that, I’d much rather be stuck with too much clothing than with too little. On cold weather rides of over three hours, I often find myself chilled even if I am sweating. There is nothing easy about getting in 150+ km in 0- Celsius conditions.

    Oh, please. Talk to me after 250 solo in the rain at 0C. Uphill both ways!

    A wise man pointed out that staying warm like that comes down to your hat. Get a good winter cycling cap and you will stay toasty warm all day.

    Frank,  Let’s compare notes this Saturday.

    I’m planning to do the Seattle Randonneur training ride from the Auburn Fred Meyer parking lot up to Carbonado and back, rolling at 09:00 (we can start at V after if you prefer).

    106km, 900 meters climbing, -4c in the morning up to maybe 3c by afternoon.

    I’m open to a different route if you have one in mind.

  46. @wiscot

    @Gianni

    @antihero

    The “Harvard of The South” is Vanderbilt University, and @Ron obviously has a grievance against the femme undergrads. @Ron, I suggest the application of 20 repeats of Pulltight Hill, followed by a long meditation on the merits of young women in yoga pants whilst recovering at the Yazoo brewery.

    Damn them, they told me Tulane University was the “Harvard of the South” when I went there for one year. How many Harvards of the South are needed?

    Maybe Harvard is the Tulane of the north?

    Vanderbilt??? I was always told that the best southern school (paaalease let’s not even try to compare to New England schools) was Duke. 

    Besides any school with a double digit acceptance rate and is not even 200 years old should not even be considered. 

     

    Now I’ll sit back and start popping the corn, BABY!

  47. @johnthughes

    Between the Nanoflex and Gabba I wear during the late, off, and early season here you would think I was a rolling Castelli billboard….but I wouldn’t live without it. It is *litterally* my Flandrian Best.

    That said, life may be taking me temporarily out of my adopted home(better not be longer than 3 years, damnit!) and to Atlanta, Ga. where I fear it will be a barren wasteland for cycling(I hear they finally have 50m of bike path now somewhere to the east of the city)…but I am very saddened at this prospect. Though I will have the LvdK to keep me company…though a Vlaams making her way in the US South might be a sight to see =)

    Anyone have any opinions on cycling in Atlanta? Seems like the weather should be better most of the year(not necessarily a good thing…). But considering Car is King there…I am concerned with inter-vehicle confabulation.

    Cheers,

    John

    Cheers

    Atlanta born and raised.  Potentially bred, but I choose to remaining ignorant in that department.  Anyway, I’ve been back here riding for 15 years post school.  Some great in town rides, good LBSs, and plenty of start and end points with the caffeinated or malted beverage of your choice.  I stress in town.  Also, the old Tour of Georgia routes, including the Six Gap Century, are only 1.5 hours away.  Duluth on the other hand, well it sucks.  Should you wind up here, look me up.  Be happy to show you the goods and get you introduced in my group ride.

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