Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dressing for Success

Where I live, the weather is turning cold and wet. Unlike, the Cyclosaur, my blogging domestique, I have seasons to contend with. And so, at this time of year, the greatest challenge to my riding pleasure is having the right clothing on.

I should start by telling you that I am fairly oblivious to the cold. When other cyclists are decked out in wind-front tights, heavy jackets and balaclavas, I am often still in shorts. I guess I just run warm.

So this morning, when the temperature was in the 40s, I put on shorts, but topped with a long-sleeve jersey and a wool sweater. Because my mother, who watches my kids sometimes, said it was frigid-ass cold (my words, not hers) and the wind was icey and brutal, I added a light jacket, a fleece cycling hat and full-fingered gloves.

I was overheated inside of ten minutes. I shucked the jacket. And the gloves.

I believe that, in colder weather, the best clothing strategy is one that has you fairly cold for the first ten minutes of your ride. The idea is that you will warm into some sort of balance between too-hot and too-cold. If there is one thing I hate it's riding while bathed in sweat, which, in my experience, is also a bad thing to do in cold weather, because then when you stop riding all that moisture becomes a serious liability.

Breathability is important. There is a general clamor, in the cycling world, for wind-proof gear. I have some, but what I find, mostly, is that wind-proof means air-tight, which means too much heat builds up under there. I can only wear wind-proof if the mercury is south of 35 degrees. Or if it's raining like it's mad at me.

The thing that really makes dressing so difficult this time of year is that the weather is so goddamned variable. One day it's sunny and 55. The next day its 40 and raining. It's all over the map.

So every time I walk out the front door onto the porch, with my bike slung over my shoulder, it's really just a guess. Sometimes I turn around and head back in for more (or less) clothing. Other times I hurl myself into the meteorological void and hope I don't end up with hypothermia.

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