Dress for Success
With the right clothes, most cyclists can be comfortable riding outside down to at least 20 degrees (F) and up to at least 90 degrees. Here are some general tips to help keep you comfortable in all conditions:
- The most important of cycling clothing is a good pair of shammies. Invest in good quality shammies and you won't be sorry. Most riders prefer bib style shorts for comfort.
- Put on your shorts as close to the beginning of your ride as possible and take them off as soon as you finish. NEVER wear your shorts on the car ride to the race or ride or on the way home, even if t means you have to change in your car or a port-a-potty. Wearing your shorts too long, especially after a ride will lead to saddle sores.
- Never wear the same shorts twice without washing them. Wash all cycling clothing in cold water and air dry for maximum life.
- Once the elastic in your shammies starts to wear out, it's time to replace them. Loose fitting shammies will lead to discomfort and saddle sores.
- Wear the tightest, most form fitting clothing you can get away with. Loose fitting clothing will drastically increase aerodynamic drag.
- Always wear gloves in races. If you crash, it is very likely that your hands will hit the ground and it's tough to do anything without your hands
- Always wear a helmet. It's against the law in many states for children under 14 to ride without a helmet, and it's against the rules to ride around at races without a helmet (even if you're just riding to registration or the bathroom). Modern helmets are light, aerodynamic and comfortable, so there's no good excuse not to wear one.
- Make sure to wash your helmet pads and straps from time to time to prevent the buildup of dirt, salt and bacteria.
- Aero helmets can be a significant aerodynamic advantage, but they tend to have restricted air flow, which means that they will be warmer and not necessarily the best option on hot days.
- Sunglasses are recommended at all times when riding outdoors. Not only do they protect the eyes from sunlight, they also protect the eyes from wind, rain and road debris. On rainy days, wear clear lenses and on dark days wear yellow or orange lenses.
- Road cycling shoe tend to be stiffer, lighter and more adjustable, but they are not suitable for walking or running. Mountain bike shoes tend to be less stiff or adjustable, but you can walk or run in them when necessary. Additionally, mountain bike pedals are designed to operate even when obstructed by dirt, mud, snow or ice.
- Always check the weather forecast before rides. Look at the temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, chance of precipitation and how the weather will change throughout your ride.
- If the conditions will be changing throughout your ride, wear clothing that can be easily removed or bring extra clothing with you to put on
- Adjust your clothing choices for ride intensity. The higher the intensity, the more you will warm up, which means the less you need to wear. Conversely, you will need to wear more for a low intensity (recovery or endurance) ride so you don't end up riding too hard simply to stay warm.
- Have lots of choices at your disposal when it comes to gloves and booties. It's important to choose wisely in order to stay warm and dry but also to avoid overheating
- Fenders can do a lot to keep the water off of your body on rainy days
- When riding indoors, it's really easy to overheat, even if you're riding in a cool room. Only shorts and a wicking base layer will be necessary for clothing. Make sure you have a towel to wipe off sweat, and most importantly, use a strong fan to maximize air flow.
- On extremely hot days, make sure to wear breathable clothing. If possible, wear lighter colored clothing as well.
Here is a chart with recommendations for what to wear at various temperatures/weather conditions: (All temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit)
For more on what to wear in various weather conditions (winter in particular), check out this blog entry.