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Are you wearing enough clothes on your spring rides?

A guide to dressing in April

In most parts of Canada, the Winter thaw is finally coming to a close. If you’ve been riding outside since the fall, congrats, but for many, the transition from indoor cycling to outdoors has begun. Riding in April can be great, or not. Mother Nature likes to play games here in our country, so you may have a day when it’s 20 C, followed by a cold and rainy ride barely above zero.

Either way, for the sake of your joints, lungs and overall enjoyment, you need to be sure to dress properly. On days when the weather looks unpredictable, it’s always a good move to stash a vest or rain jacket in your back pocket. If the skies open up, or even if you have to stop to change a flat tire, you can quickly find yourself feeling chilly, which will definitely spoil the rest of your ride.

Everyone’s body is different, but there are some basic guidelines that can be very helpful when it comes to figuring out your kit.

Temperature guide

20 C: Shorts and short-sleeve jersey, optional thin undershirt.

16 C: 16 degrees is usually the cut-off temperature for shorts. Not only will you find your legs to be a bit chilly, but you are doing your knees a favour by keeping them covered. Shorts with leg warmers or knee warmers, and a jersey with arm warmers.

10 C: Shorts, with tights or leg warmers, accompanied by a long sleeve jersey, or thin jacket with a wicking undershirt underneath. You may also want to wear a vest to break the wind and prevent a chill.

7 C: Shorts and leg warmers, or bib tights with a shammy. You’ll need a long-sleeve wicking undershirt and cycling jacket; some thin full-fingered gloves; a headband or hat under your helmet. Thicker socks and booties or shoe covers will keep your feet warm. A bandana or neck gaiter.

4 C: Bib tights or leg warmers, with a long-sleeve jersey, a lined jacket or windbreaker. Thicker gloves, a headband and hat, winter shoe covers, thicker socks. A bandana or neck gaiter.

2 C: Heavier tights, heavy undershirt with heavy cycling jacket. Headband or skullcap under helmet, thicker shoe covers or booties, thicker socks. A bandana or neck gaiter.

Tips for staying warm

Layer up

The tried-and-true method of layering is the best way to stay comfortable. A layer in reserve can help when the temperature drops, and something waterproof will keep the wet stuff at bay.

Don’t sweat it

Sweat can reduce a cyclist’s core temperature rapidly, especially on a rainy spring day. You need to strike the balance of keeping your core warm and dry. Again, the layered approach is best. It takes a little more preparation; however, it works. Feeling clammy is no fun.

Feet first

Make sure your feet are properly covered on those unpredictable days in April and May. Booties or shoe covers are almost always a must and your feet will thank you.

Leave room

When buying clothes, think of space. Cycling clothes are typically streamlined and tight. The extra space ensures better blood circulation, which means a warmer body. The same principle can be applied to glove and sock choice. For example, thicker wool socks can actually make your feet colder if they are too tight.
The double jersey trick

Keep the core warm

Out of base layers? Put on two summer jerseys. A second jersey can serve the purpose of an undershirt. You can also resort to three layers: two jerseys and a lighter jacket. With numerous thinner layers it is easier to adapt to changing temperatures.