Cool weather conditions can offer some of the best riding you’ll find. The scenery is good with changing colors and bugs are not a problem. You can go at it hard if you want for longer periods of time and not worry about getting overheated. But, for maximum comfort and personal safety, not to mention to provide your body with the ideal conditions for best performance, it’s important to dress appropriately for the weather.
Cooler temperatures mean you should apply some strategy when you're picking out your dress for the ride. Too few clothes, and you'll freeze. Too many and you'll burn up. Smart riders know that layering your clothes is the key to success. Dressing in several light layers allows you to add and remove clothes as the temperature changes and as your body heats up or cools off.
A base layer with good wicking properties will help draw sweat away from your body and keep you from getting chilled later if temperatures drop, winds increase or your activity level slows. A middle, insulating layer that helps keep you warm and yet allows air to still circulate around your body should go on next. Finally, you’ll want a lightweight outer shell that serves as a windbreaker and can offer you protection from precipitation if needed.
Dripping with sweat may be fine on a hot summer day, but it's not what you want when the temperatures are more moderate. This means that one of the most important things that you are trying to do in dressing for cooler weather is to keep yourself warm, but not too warm. You don’t want to be soaked in sweat when you’re riding in cool weather because you can chilled later on if the temperatures drop or if your activity slows.
It's a common mistake for riders to overdress for cool weather, and actually end up being too warm very quickly. If you are warm and cozy before you even start riding, once you get on the bike, you’ll start to get hot in no time at all. Start out lighter, with the option to add additional layers if necessary.
Use Leg/Arm Warmers to Manage Temperature Swings
One of the most versatile and handy accessories of cool weather riding is arm and leg/knee warmers. Most simply described as removable sleeves, they help keep you warm when you first get started on those chilly mornings, yet can be removed quickly and tucked in your jersey pocket or pack as the day gets warmer or your body heats up.
Cover Your Head
One easy way to regulate your body temperature is to cover your head and remove as necessary. Just a wrap around your ears or a thin cover (like a Headsweats-type covering) under your helmet will have a dramatic impact on your body's temperature, because that's where you lose a lot of heat. Like arm and leg warmers, these are easy to put on and take off as necessary, and use very little space to store in your pocket or pack.
Beat the Chill
These aren't complicated tips or particularly sophisticated, but there is no doubt that remembering and using these simple concepts when you are picking out your cycling clothes will help you enjoy those great rides that cooler weather can offer, and make you a smarter cyclist all around.