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Winter Riding - On the road with Deano

Former professional, UK cycling legend and now Assistant Manager for the JLT Condor team, Dean Downing writes exclusively for Leigh Day on why its not that its ever too cold to cycle if you know what to wear.

The right gear?

It's October, it's the off season for most of the pro riders, well those who weren't in Doha sweating in the 45 degrees of the World Road Race Championships last week.

October is the start of Autumn and a big weather change here in the U.K.

What does that mean for all cyclist's and all of you out there riding a bike for fitness or commuting.

It means the Jersey and Shorts combo is no longer going to cut it, early morning commutes can be anything from 0 degrees on the bad days to 10 degrees on the good days.

Speak to any pro and they will tell you they won't get their legs out on a ride until it's over 17 or so degrees.

So it really shouldn't be any different for all of us. Keeping warm and comfy is the key when riding in the autumn and winter months. Kit choice is essential.

So what kit should you be riding ?

Today I rode out with my mates for the first time in a long time and the weather forecast was not too bad, max 10 degrees with sunshine and clouds, but at 9:30 when I left, it wasn't so warm. The Garmin said 7 degrees, it's pretty cold up north.

In my opinion it is always better to have too many layers on, as you can always take one off and stuff it in your pocket. You can never put another layer on half way around, we don't have team cars following us do we.

So here's what I had on to start my ride today.
  • Winter Socks.
  • Normal bib shorts.
  • Winter bib tights.
  • Long sleeve merino wool undervest.
  • Long sleeve VOID hyper ride Jersey.
  • Long finger gloves.
  • Neoprene overshoes.
  • Neck buff.
  • And in my pocket, a thin long sleeve wind Jacket.

I also had my glasses on to protect my eyes, helmet and shoes ( these things are standard so I wasn't going to mention them ).

As it isn't so cold for now, I was nice a warm with just the 2 layers on, an undervest and long sleeve jersey. But on coming out of the cafe ( yes we always have a coffee stop on the Friday run, check my social media for which one we go to ) I put my thin Wind Jacket on to keep the chill away and it stayed on all the way home for the last hour of my ride.

In another months' time the weather will turn colder and more layers will be needed. Maybe thicker gloves, softshell winter jackets will be the norm and a beanie hat under the helmet too.

But again it's all about getting the layers of clothing right for yourself, everyone is different, so don't just copy one of your mates, it's personal, but then again when it's cold it's cold and you need to be warm whilst riding out on your bike.

Here's the one top tip that you should always take note of. Always take a Wind Jacket or Rain Cape out with you.

You never know what the weather is going to do in the U.K. It may rain even if the weather forecaster said it won't and it may get cold even if the weather forecaster said it will stay warm.

One last thing for riding in the autumn and winter. DO NOT RIDE IN SHORTS.

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