Dressing for Spring and Fall
When spring finally rolls around after a long winner, cyclists start crawling off of their trainers and back into the real world to start putting in serious miles. As the days grow longer and temperatures climb higher, racing begins, tours are planned, and the ride to work starts to feel fun again.
Of course, spring can also deliver some of the most varied weather conditions of the year. Sporadic downpours, warm sunbursts, and stiff winds keep conditions unpredictable. Spring weather turns every cyclist into a meteorologist guessing whether those rain clouds really are going to float over in a few hours. Similarly, when summer rolls into fall, chilly winds remind us of winter's impending arrival and bring similarly unpredictable conditions.
The key word here is layers. Dressing in layers allows a rider to adjust to changing conditions on the fly. Here are some things to consider when you're putting together your spring or fall kit.
A baselayer worn underneath your jersey can make a big difference in your level of comfort. Designed specifically to wick away sweat and moisture, baselayers will keep you dry and comfortable in a wide range of conditions. Avoid that cold clammy feeling with the ProCorsa Men's Sleeveless Baselayer or the Pearl Izumi Women's Cargo Baselayer, for example.
Tights & Knickers
When temperatures dip, tights and knickers can be important sources of warmth; knees in particular may be sensitive to cold, and knickers ensure they're protected. Generally speaking, knickers are probably warm enough if the temperature is at or above forty degrees or so; if it gets much colder than that when you ride, go with tights.
You might also consider bib tights or bib knickers, which have the often-overlooked benefit of a substantial bib section which may function almost as a baselayer itself. The Castelli Men's Nanoflex 2 Bib Knicker is a great bib knicker with comfortable compression and a high-quality chamois.
Many tights are available without chamois, meaning you can wear your favorite shorts underneath them. This has a few advantages: for one, if it's much warmer than you expect, you can strip them off and just ride in your shorts. Additionally, you can keep your tights clean enough for multiple wears, so you only need to own one pair. Check out the Pearl Izumi Men's Pursuit Attack Tight, for example, or the Louis Garneau Women's Stockholm Tight.
Jackets & Vests
A lightweight, wind- and water-resistant jacket or vest is absolutely essential for spring or fall rides. They'll pack up small into a jersey pocket but be there when you need them, to cut the wind on chilly descents or help keep you dry in an unexpected shower. Try the Castelli Men's Squadra ER Jacket or the convertible Pearl Izumi Women's Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket, for example.
If you live in a climate where rain is more common, you might consider a lightweight waterproof jacket for more reliable rain protection. We love jackets from Showers Pass, a local company here in Portland, where we certainly know rain. The Showers Pass Men's Pro-Tech ST Jacket features their high-tech waterproof breathable fabric in a package that'll pack down small enough to fit in, yup, a jersey pocket.
Arm, Leg, & Knee Warmers
The ultimate versatile layer, armwarmers, legwarmers, and kneewarmers cover just what you need to cover without taking up too much space or interfering with your sleek silhouette. Read more about these accessories here.
Socks & Booties
Even in changing weather conditions, you'll probably be just fine in your summer road shoes. If you tend to suffer from cold feet, you might consider a pair of shoe covers to cut the wind-we like the simple Louis Garneau Thermal Toe Covers or, for rougher weather, the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier WxB Shoe Cover. Your sock choice will make a difference in your comfort, too-avoid cotton, which will get cold and uncomfortable when damp, and stick to wool and synthetic materials. The DeFeet Aireator 5 Inch Socks are a great choice, as are the Castelli Men's Merino 9 Wool Sock.
Gloves & Hats
A pair of lightweight full-finger gloves is easy enough to pack along on a ride, and can make a big difference in comfort if the weather turns less-than-pleasant. A thin glove-or even a liner designed to fit inside a warmer glove-can be worn over your half-finger gloves and add a bit of extra warmth. Something like the Assos tiburuGlove_evo7 Gloves will add a bit of extra protection from the weather.
A hat or headband over your ears can help keep you warm in the wind; try the Pearl Izumi Transfer Lite Headband or Castelli Viva Thermo Skully. A classic cycling cap with a brim helps keep springtime sun and rain out of your eyes; we like the Castelli Podio Doppio Cap, which is made of performance fabric rather than the usual cotton, making it more suitable for damp conditions.