Coping with Windy and Rainy Weather
Rain Jackets – these may vary in thickness from a “spray” jacket [see photo 1 ], which will fold/roll up nice and small to fit into your jersey pocket but only stay waterproof in a light mist/spray; through to full waterproof jackets in case of a serious downpour. Good quality rain jackets will still be breathable, so you don’t end up with the “chicken in a bag” roast dinner effect. Some jackets will also have detachable sleeve area [see photo 2 ] – by zips or magnets – leaving you with a thick wind vest for days when you don’t need the full jacket cover. These are very versatile, as you can carry the sleeve bit in your pocket in case the weather turns sour!
Wind Vests – also known as a ‘gilet’, a wind vest has a thicker panel across the chest area. This is the area you most need to protect from the wind so you don’t get a chill. Some wind vests will have a mesh part on the back [see photo 2 ] – which is great if you get warm riding (even in cool weather) and don’t want a sweaty back!
Shoe Covers & Toe Covers – these may be just wind proof or totally waterproof, and may also be worn to improve aerodynamics. Toe covers [ see photo ] just cover the front half of the shoe (and you can take the shoe off with them still on), whereas shoe covers cover the whole shoe and go up the ankle a bit. Both types have a section which goes around the cleat so that the pedal interface isn’t compromised. When choosing shoe covers, check that you can get it done up around your ankle. This needs to be a firm seal for waterproofing – otherwise water runs down your legs and straight into your shoe!
AssSavers – not exactly clothing, but definitely worth a mention. These are inexpensive little plastic thingies that clip to the saddle rails under the back of your saddle, and stick out like a short mudguard [ see photo 4 ]. Very easy to put on and take off, they don’t work as well as a full mudguard, but definitely protect you from that stream of water that flies off your back wheel and goes straight up your [as the name suggests] and prevents that wet brown stripe you see on the back of some people’s knicks when they’ve been riding in wet weather... certainly worth the investment.
Being out on the bike on a beautiful sunny day is one of the best things in life. However, we need to be mindful of protecting our skin from sun damage. While 50+ sunscreen is a good option for areas that are exposed, the most effective option is a physical barrier. Most lycra jerseys have UV protection built in, though it is not a total block-out. Base layers can help here as well.
Another option to consider are sun protection arm and leg covers, which are thin tubes to slip over your arms and legs (just up to the bottom of your knicks or sleeves of your jersey). Some brands claim that these have a “cooling” effect. I haven’t tried any yet (but do have some on order for this season) so can’t provide a definite answer on that one!
Other Cycling Accessories
Gloves – these are a very important accessory, not just for comfort on the bike, but for protection of your hands if you have a fall. A lot of gloves have gel padding in the palm, though some people prefer them without. They come in short-fingered (only cover to knuckles) and full-fingered [ see photo 5 ], and in a variety of thicknesses and fabrics for different seasons and weather conditions.
Shoes – there are a multitude of brands, styles, and types of shoes out there. Your choice will depend a lot on whether or not you have clipless pedals & cleats, and then whether you go for MTB style or Road style pedals! If you are using flat/standard pedals, make sure the shoes you are using have a very firm sole. One advantage of cycling-specific shoes is that the sole has little or no flex – as this is optimal from a biomechanical perspective. So don’t just wear your runners! You will be losing some power, and at worst you may end up with foot pain or an injury. Hiking-style boots are a much better option.
Socks – some people place a huge importance on their “sock game” with rules about how tall the sock sits on the calf, and whether they match the rest of the kit. Personally, I like to use my socks as an opportunity for individual expression, because the rest of my kit is fairly standard. Socks are a cheap way to accessorise and keep your style fresh and unique. And of course there are many sport (even cycling specific) sock options out there that offer sweat wicking, cushioning, etc… you can make up your own mind about these.
Arm, leg and knee warmers – these are little lycra items you can slip on during the colder months to cover up a bit more skin. Arm warmers go from your wrist to just below your underarm, and your jersey sleeve goes over them. Leg warmers go from your ankle to mid-thigh, and you tuck them under your knicks (beware of tight leg elastic and the ‘double sausage’ effect). Knee warmers go from just under your knee to mid-thigh, and also sit beneath the knicks. They each come in a range of densities, from light to a thick thermal [ see photo 7 ]. As noted previously, variations are also available for the purpose of UV sun protection / cooling.
Cap – there is also a bit of a trend to wear a cycling cap under your helmet. Aside from being a fashion statement, this can be useful to keep the sun out of your eyes if your helmet doesn’t have a visor, and can also prevent the rain from dripping into your eyes if you get caught in a downpour. [ see photo 6 ]
Neck Tubes – may also be known by brand names of “buff” or “headsox” – available in cotton or merino. These can be worn just around the neck to keep it warm [ see photo 8 ], or up over part of the head covering the chin, cheeks and ears on those really cold mornings. Depending on the brand, there are numerous other creative ways of wearing them printed on the packaging!
Zip Lock Bag – the most important accessory of all is a little baggie for your mobile phone. I learnt the hard way that touch screens and sweat don’t get along! So, place your phone in a ziplock bag before putting in your jersey pocket. You can still use the screen through the bag! You can also buy custom bags or pouches for this purpose – personally I prefer the ziplocks.
Questions, queries, suggestions, or just want to get in touch?
Cazz from Bike it Better also offers individual and group skills coaching, regular women’s training rides, and customised training programs. There are also a limited number of very comfortable Bike it Better women’s jerseys for sale on the website! Visit www.bikeitbetter.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.