Weather can be unpredictable as I’ve learned over my career and was reminded of this the first weekend of March. Unfortunately we may see more unpredictability as climate change has its effect. Experience if nothing has taught me to always be prepared for it. Among Canadian athletes I’m known for an infamous “steady no schwetty" talk I gave to some National Team athletes as I tried to give some advice on the topic. The point got lost a little in translation but I was trying my best to share some ideas to plan ahead for changing weather. Flexible breathable layers, checking the forecast, not overheating, and route forecasting were among the ideas. Regardless sometimes you get caught out and I’ve seen this happen a lot in early spring. March can be an especially wicked witch at times; some of my coldest rides in memory have come during this period. March has a tendency to trick people into underdressing after being teased with a few sunny days.
Even in California where I train a lot it is easy to get caught as I was reminded this last weekend. Sometimes the only solution is to swing your arms around, slap your body, and ride as hard as you can for home. Luckily since I started riding "back in the day" clothing has really improved and there are a lot more options to be ready for changing temps. The other weekend after a couple sunny short sleeve days the forecast was looking ominous so I reached into my tickle trunk for a few nice items that saved my day. After starting out with bluebird skies thunder clouds built and I survived about an hour and a half of hail, freezing rain, and 3deg C….barely. I feel really lucky to have the support of Canadian company Louis Garneau who understands cold weather riding and thought I’d share a few of my favourite pieces I've collected to survive variable days like this in early spring. Below was my costume of choice to survive and some of my favourite pieces I use most frequently in training. You can check out most of them at LouisGarneau.com where you might be able to score some pretty good deals on spring sales right now. A few of these products have moved on from the website but you might still be able to find them in your local Louis Garneau dealer.
-MESH CARBON SLEEVELESS TOP: no matter what I always start out with a good base layer which wicks the sweat away from the body efficiently.
-COURSE WIND PRO® LS CYCLING JERSEY: I pretty much wear this over my base layer all winter until the sun really starts shining. I wear with vest for moderate days, thermal top on top, or pack a full shell if it looks dodgy out.
-COURSE POWER SHIELD® CYCLING JERSEY: Another really flexible item that really insulates against the weather if it turns and also a really nice aero fit for road riding. It also has a really nice extendable rear flap to protect your backside from spray. At first it seemed like an odd item, thermal short sleeve, but I end up using it a ton.
-NEOSHELL® CYCLING JACKET: Amazing how much better shell jackets have progressed since the plastic capes I used to use. I almost always pack a shell in my back pocket just in case and the NeoShell really can protect from the elements and breath at the same time.
-COURSE THERMAL CYCLING BIB: If you haven’t discovered thicker warmer shorts this are a game changer for cold riding. I really like to use them as they are much more flexible than tights if the temperatures warm up; you can easily ditch your leg warmers.
-ZIP-LEG WARMERS 2: these are my favourite comfortable leg warmers that are an everyday item that don’t irritate or rub anywhere.
-PRO LITE CYCLING SHOE COVERS: light water repellant shoe covers: these are my favourite type of foot item for spring conditions and racing. They fit really snug, don’t rub on the cranks, and keep the water out.
-WINTER HAT: It is a simple item but hard to find a nice one. This one I really like and is extremely important to keep the heat in when you have as little hair as I do!
-RAFALE 2 CYCLING GLOVES: you can never have too many sets of gloves and these are my new favourite for spring riding conditions. Still breathable and stow-able if it warms up but can provide warmth and protection as well.
Enjoy your spring riding, stay warm, and keep riding until the fun stops!