The days are getting shorter and I hate (love) to say it... but winter IS coming, and you better be ready. With climate change, a bit of bad luck and the rise of Trump thrown in to mix - it's fair to say that the the forecast is extra icy. So here is our essential guide to winter clothing, and the key bits of kit that need to keep peddling through autumn and winter:
- Base layer: This bad boy is key to keeping you dry (as it wicks sweat away from your skin and stops you clamming up) and its on area where its really worth investing. A merino wool base layer t-shirt works wonders at regulating your body temperature and will suit all Autumn, Winter and Spring.
- Thermals: No we're not talking about pants, this is all about bibs and jerseys. Kit with 'thermal' in the name will have a brushed finish on the inside lining. These little beauties are soft and fluffy against your skin, and super efficient at holding the warm air around your body.
- Arm / leg warmers: In terms of versatility these are your ace of spades. Mix and match them with a base layer and jersey, add a windproof jersey or winter jacket, or even both! The possibilities are pretty much endless, they can be removed and stuck in a pocket or empty water bottle, and general consensus also decrees that they look pretty awesome too. Get involved people.
- Wind jacket: A windproof layer will keep Jack Frost and his windy shenanigans well out way from your core, ensuring you stay warm no matter how high persistent the gales. Expect to see windproof materials on the front, whilst the rear lets air seep out to keep you cool - truly the best of both worlds.
- Rain jacket: If you live in the UK there's not much explanation needed here. Save these for when you really need it as they they'll be less breathable. As a result they can ride a little hot, and you should experiment with less layers underneath when you're donning one of these in a downpour. For adventure riders take a look at packable hiking jackets for extra versatility; perfect when you're warming up in a pub.
- Gloves: Get them, if you like the use of your fingers in February its pretty mandatory lol. Look for something thats waterproof and breathable with a good thickness to let the air circulate. Size is also important, make sure it leaves plenty of room to reach your levers without rubbing or feeling tight, but not so big you can pinch a gap at the end of your fingers.
- Shoe covers: Depending on your shot type there are two main options here: toe covers and shoe covers. Toe covers are 3-5mm neoprene and fit over the front of your shoe; perfect for chilly autumn rides and with just enough protection to stave off trench foot in an unexpected downpour. Full show covers however will cover your entire shoe and ankle with toasty warm (and often difficult to get on) neoprene. Save those for the coldest and wettest of conditions.
- Neck collars: If you're riding light on layers these can really make the difference, especially when you're getting back on the bike after a cake stop. Top Tip: keep it in a small plastic bag in your back pocket so it stays dry for when you want it.
- Winter hats: A bit of rummaging will turn up some real beauties, that can include merino wool and over ear covers.
- Mid gloves: Most bike shops will hold these, a little less ski season and a little more autumn dog walking.
- Clear Lenses: If you're setting off early and aren't expecting sunshine, these will still protect your eyes form the elements whilst allowing you properly see those pesky buses.
- Staying Warm: Is all about layers. Wear breathable base and mid layers to wick the sweat away from your body, and keep a packable extra layer for cake stops or when the weather turns. You'll really appreciate it.
- Be versatile: Choose jackets with with full zips and adjustable sleeves, and gillets/mid layers you can remove and stuff into a pocket. If you're peddling hard you'll want to be able to remove adjust/remove something to prevent overheating.
- Make sure you get a good fit: Loose fitting layers trap the air in-between them and help to keep you warm. Loose flappy layers will circulate air around you and suck away all that lovely coziness.
- Dry feet, warm trunk: Maintain both of these and you'll have a great ride no matter what the weather throws at you.
After 10 years experimenting with kit combos throughout the winter, I certainly have my preference of brands... But since its such an individual decision and half the fun is trying these things out - I'll leave you all to discover the unicorns for yourself. Though drop me a message on instagram and I'll be very happy to give you some suggestions.
Good luck, ride safe, eat cake. Jamie.