The challenges of getting dressed to ride
There’s something I left out of my review of Phil Gaimon’s book, Draftanimals (p.27). It’s was one of my favourite parts that I wanted to discuss here. Early in the book, the now-retired pro roadie gives the reader a glimpse into the Garmin-sharp team bus before the start of a Volta a Catalunya stage. Snow is in the forecast. The riders have no idea what to wear. And such indecision wasn’t uncommon. “Every day,” Gaimon writes, “like we’d never gotten dressed before.”
I liked that section so much because I’ve had those conversations, too, especially before cyclocross races. “You’re wearing a vest? It’s way too hot for a vest.” I used to hate hearing comments like that, ones that would sew the seeds of kit-choice insecurity in me. Now, I don’t stress too much about what I’m wearing for a ’cross race. I might dress a little too warmly on occasion, but it’s only for 45 minutes. Longer rides that come as the seasons are changing, however, I still, still, get wrong.
This past September, I got out really early on a Sunday to explore some new-to-me country roads. As the sun came up, it burned off a mist. The route was stunning, and so was the cold. It seemed that in roughly six months, I had forgotten what “2 C” meant, how it felt and what I should wear. Of course, the cold really started to affect me when I was farthest from home. I could only ride back shivering and miserable. As I came to the end, the sun was high enough to give me enough warmth. Perfect timing. What could have been an amazing fall ride was a bummer.
But I learned my lesson, as I do every year. By late November, when I was testing the Cannondale Synapse (p.60), I had my kit dialed. I headed out in conditions that included a lot of wind, some snow and some rain, all within two hours. The ride was great. It was fun. I didn’t crush any segments, but I felt as if I got a kom in layering.
Those experiences this past fall shaped ‘Outfits That Will Help Your Start Your Season Earlier’ (p.62). With the help of others here in the office, I selected gear that will keep you comfortable in temperatures ranging from below 0 C to about 10 C. It’s a tricky exercise because each rider is different. I remember comparing weekend clothing choices with account manager Dan Walker on a Monday. If I had worn what Dan had on his ride, I would have been hypothermic. Maybe keep that in mind as you peruse the outfits story: I have little insulation to begin with. My selections in the outfit story err on the warmer side. But, if I’ve learned anything in the past few months, it’s better to shed layers than to be shivering without them.
I hope I remember that lesson next year.
Matthew Pioro Editor