NOTE: this article first appeared in the September 2011 edition of Bicycle Paper. Abridged version reprinted with permission.
|Pro Tech ST jacket. Photo courtesy of Showers Pass.|
Moreover, opportunities to take part in organized rides are plentiful: centuries, gran fondos, tours, club rides, etc. — all beckon. Centuries, of course, have become the most popular long-distance format for recreational riders, presenting an endurance test as well as the chance to mix it up with participants of all abilities. Tucking into a 20-mph paceline can be a challenge worth taking. And if you drift off the back to enjoy a slower pace, well, no one’s the wiser.
That said, whether you’re hammering in an impromptu peloton or casually pedaling with your family, the clothes you wear can make the difference between an enjoyable ride or a frigid, soggy sojourn. Fall cycling, with its clammy climbs and wind-chilled descents, presents a mind- (and potentially finger- and toe-) numbing range of temperatures.
|Photo by Jay Stilwell|
Ed Dalton, president of Showers Pass, the Portland-based maker of rain gear, knows all about riding in the Northwest. His aptly named company offers a host of rain gear for commuters, racers and riders.
“Yes, riding in the fall is a challenge,” Dalton explains. “You never know what’s going to happen. And nothing takes the fun out of a ride, particularly a long one like a century, than not having the right gear. This is the premise that goes into the apparel we design.”
When planning for a typical fall tour, say the Harvest Century in Hillsboro, Ore., on October 8 (touted as the last organized ride of the year), you can count on temperatures ranging from 50 degrees to maybe high 60s, with a chance of rain. Here are some helpful suggestions on what to wear.
A Jacket for All Trades
|Elite Pro jacket, now available in Black or |
Goldenrod. Photo courtesy of Showers Pass.
Showers Pass makes two jackets that are ideal for autumn centuries, the Elite Pro and the Pro Tech. The Elite Pro weighs a mere 8 ounces with a sleek, contoured fit. It uses Elite™ Fabric, both waterproof and highly breathable. In addition, adjustable ventilating cuffs, water-resistant zippered core vents, asymmetrical front zipper and a rear exhaust vent allows maximum breathability. And finally, it can be scrunched into a tidy package for storage.
Even lighter is the Showers Pass Pro Tech. It weighs only 5.5 ounces, constructed with a nifty transparent stretch membrane that allows race numbers and kits to show through. The fabric is both windproof and waterproof-breathable, and packs down into a very small pocket-sized bundle. For milder days with just a chance of precipitation, this or something similar would be an excellent choice.
|Castelli Sorpasso bib knickers and |
bib tights are favorites amongst
BicyclingHub.com staff and customers alike.
Fall riding can usually be done in summer weight Lycra or mountain bike shorts. Choose shorts that you know fit you well and are comfortable over the long haul — because 100 miles is a long haul. If the temperature is too chilly for exposed knees, you have two choices, a pair of knickers or knee warmers. For days that are likely to remain cold, bibknickers are the way to go. However, if a warmer afternoon arrives, knee warmers can be removed, but you do have to carry them home.
Tops and Jerseys
For a fall ride, deciding on what to envelope your torso with is straightforward: baselayer and a jersey. The big decision is long-sleeve or short-sleeve jersey with arm warmers. If you are convinced the temperatures will remain brisk, the long-sleeve option is the way to go. But the short-sleeve arm warmer combo provides the same adjust-on-the-fly flexibility as shorts and knee warmers do. For example, on a long climb, with your body temp rising as fast as your heart rate, arm warmers can be pushed down over your wrists. This delivers instant cooling. Sadly, it has no affect on your pulse.
If no rain is forecast, you could leave the jacket at home, then start off with a jersey, arm warmers and a lightweight packable vest — which can also be used on cold descents.
Hands and Feet
|Pearl Izumi Cyclone Cycling Glove|
|Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Toe Covers|
|Castelli Wool Cycling Cap Grey Plaid|
|Events such as the Harvest Century are a great way |
to test our your gear as well as your legs.
“This will be our ninth Harvest Century,” she explained, “And we’ve probably had every possible weather occurrence ... Last year it drizzled for most of the event, which could have dampened the fun. But it didn’t. Most riders had the appropriate gear and had a great time. The right apparel made the difference.”
Comfortable fall riding is all about preparation and flexibility. The above tips can help you make the most of your autumn century experience.