Fall riding is some of the best riding of the year. The cool crisp weather makes the perfect temperature to enjoy some time on your bicycle. A lot of people avoid riding outside this time of year because they are not quite sure how to dress for a day that might start at 55 and end at 75 (like our group ride did Saturday morning). Luckily for all of you, an apparel degree and lots of time on my bike qualifies me to give some reasonable advice on this subject.
The trick to dressing for this weather is the same as staying warm through the brutal Chicago winter, layer up! Depending on your threshold for cold you may want to toss on a base layer top. There are a few options here from a normal base layer, to a thermal, to a wind stopper. I like the wind stopper a lot, especially around here where the wind can be brutal. Then next step is keeping the extremities warm. For those days when it is going to warm up the minute the sun comes over the lake, leg and arm warmers are your best bet. These items are great because as you warm up and can easily peal them off and stuff them in your back pocket for the rest of your ride. You can also use shoe covers over your cycling shoes if you are someone who get cold feet easily, these are also great if the ground is wet as they will help keep your feet dry. Gloves and wool socks are an obvious addition to a ride, but one of my personal favorite pieces of apparel for the fall is the ‘head thingy’ as Castelli calls it. This is just a bandanna that goes around your neck but if you get caught on a colder ride than you anticipated you can always pull it up over your face
Another great Castelli product is the Gabba Convertible jacket. These jackets are wind proof, highly water resistant, and the sleeves zip off if you get to hot. This jacket is a lot of peoples go to article of clothing for fall riding.
The final, very pro-style, move for keeping warm in the fall is embrocation cream. Embrocation (embro) is a cream riders spread in moderation on their legs. It is thick and it creates heat. The thickness helps protect the skin from the wind a bit and the heat generated helps keep the legs warm. There are a couple really important notes on embro. For starters, don’t confuse it with your chamois cream…you’ll have a big problem. Always use embro in moderation, especially when you are just starting out. Finally, be aware that it is tough to get off. If you put it on bare handed make sure you wash your hands a lot, especially before touching your eyes or other sensitive areas. A lot of guys will use gloves to put it on, which just makes it easier. Be aware as well that it will get on anything it touches, if you apply embro and say drop your bibs to use the bathroom there is a strong possibility it ends up on your chamois pad in your bike shorts, which is the last place you want it to be.
Fall riding is some of the best riding of the year, so don’t let your gear stand in your way, as the old adage goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear!”