It’s the same every time I go cycling and from what I can gather I don’t think I am the only one who suffers. Each night before a ride I check the weather forecast 3 or 4 times and clarify in my mind the type of ride I should expect, and more importantly, the clothes I am going to need to wear for the ride. You might think that this would be quite easy. If it’s raining, wear waterproofs, if it’s cold wear extra layers and if it is hot, wear as little as you can. I honestly wish it were that simple but I will explain to you how it is not. Well not for me.
The one constant in my outfit is bib shorts. Whatever season I am riding I always put my bib shorts on first. Then I add the heart rate monitor, often removing the top part of my bib shorts as I should remember that although odd standing in a room naked putting on the chest strap it really does make it easier to do so. Next I must choose a jersey type. A standard short sleeve jersey will be fine, but only if it’s not too windy or too cold on my arms. Another check of the weather App. It’s at this point I wish I took notes on what I wore last time it was like this. Strava has a feature on what gear is on your bike and when you added it. It should be replaced with a ‘what I wore on this ride’ feature along with a reference to the weather and a post ride review on whether the right decisions were made. Then, each morning prior to a ride, Strava would suggest the appropriate clothes for you based on the conditions.
The options are too plentiful. A short sleeve jersey could easily turn into a much warmer outfit by the simple application of arm warmers. That way, should I or the climate start to warm up a bit they could easily be removed mid-ride and stored in my jersey pocket. But…… then I have to decide if I am likely to remove them and whether not I would instead be better off with just a long sleeve jersey and be done with it. It’s not that it’s a better option, but having bought the long sleeve jersey and had minimal opportunities to wear it I feel obliged to add it to my ride wardrobe more than I do. The long sleeve jersey wins and I go down to breakfast.
One thing you can be sure of prior to every ride is that regardless of how many times you go to the toilet, your body will wait until you are pretty much ready to go out the door, and more importantly running a bit late, before it suddenly sends you a message that you need a poo. They make bib shorts for women that have easily removable straps so that ladies can more quickly go to toilet mid-ride. There is no such thing for men so the only option is to strip back down to your naked self, do the business and then start again. This might sound just a small loss of time on the grand scheme of things, but you haven’t taken into consideration the fact that about 30 minutes ago I applied a handsome dollop of Assos ‘chamois cream’ which means it felt like I was effectively wiping my backside with mayonnaise. I can cope with that, but at £14.00 a tub it’s such a waste.
Back on track, bib shorts in place, I have a sudden panic that the long sleeve jersey wasn’t the best option and quickly revert back to the short sleeve and arm warmers. Or shall I go with a base layer under the jersey? What if I went with the jersey and arm warmers and then added a gillet? Hmmm. The potential based on the increase in temperature predicted during the ride would mean one pocket stuffed with arm warmers and the other the gillet. I hate riding with stuff stashed in my pockets as much as I hate riding too hot or too cold.
The final option is to go with the wind breaker jacket over a simple jersey or base layer and have all options covered. All options that is except the increased temperature two hours into the ride and no option to place said jacket in the pocket because it’s too bulky. Crikey look at the time, the others will be waiting!
Under pressure, I go with the long sleeve cycling jersey and the gillet and rush across to the garage for the final league of my marathon morning ride dressage routine. The last hurdle is deciding on whether to ride with the neoprene boot covers, the thin but waterproof ones, or to simply stick with just the cycling shoes. I look down at my bib shorts and as I am trying to decide wonder if I have made the right decision not to wear tights. If I put either of my shoe covers on they might look a bit weird without my tights and if my arms are protected doesn’t that mean my legs might get cold? After all, it was pretty nippy as I skipped over to the garage. I go with the neoprene covers on the basis that they have some water protection and are definitely going to keep the wind out and with Garmin loaded on bike, helmet on I just need to make a decision on whether I will need glasses. It’s not sunny, but the sky is very grey and that extra protection from the lenses can always create some extra comfort as well as keep the wind out. I grab the glasses.
I wonder what the others are wearing? Graham never wears glasses but Julie has some smart Rudy Project ones like me so she is bound to wear them. Isn’t she? No point thinking about Archie as he has a four season approach to every ride which is bib shorts and a short sleeve jersey with mitts. Damn! That was it, I haven’t decided upon my gloves. The options are the fingerless mittens, the long sleeve option for extra wind protection or the full thermally insulated Gore gloves with extra padding. I hate my hands getting hot, I really hate my hands getting hot and with the clock racing I am down to the wire on time. F**k it, I go with the fingerless and hope for the best.
The typical outcome is this. Two minutes into the ride I know I have the wrong clothes on. My legs are cold, fingers are hurting and I am gritting my teeth annoyed at my own stupidity for once again messing up the highlight of my week. And then about an hour later I am too hot, glad that I am not in my thick wind proof jacket and grateful for the breeze that blows over my fingers, down my body and around my bare legs.
And that’s riding. Too many options, too many variables and too much indecision. I’ve never been too sure that it ever matters and I can’t honestly remember getting back from a ride regretting going out.
So, the moral of the story is get your cycling clothes out the night before and stick to it. Just keep the skull cap by the helmet though just in case it’s likely there will be a bit of cold breeze on the head. You never know..