Missed the Dressing Sweet Spot

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

I think it is strange how easily I forget how to dress for cold weather. The last two days I’ve missed it. Two days ago, it was in the mid 30’s and I was riding MTB bikes. I was cold both ways to the trail, but good in the woods. Yesterday, I went out with a group on the road and it was in the upper 40’s. I thought I hit it perfectly until the sun came out and then I was way overdressed. Most of us were. We all stopped and peeled off a layer.

It really makes a big difference what type of ride you’re doing for how you dress. I’m not going to go through the whole clothing thing, we all know how to dress in layers. I’d have to say having a good wind jacket, or vest, is probably the most important aspect of the layer dressing.

The clothing has gotten so much better recently. When I first started riding, all the clothing was wool. I only had shorts, with a leather chamois and short sleeve jerseys. I remember riding to Auburn, a small town 14 miles from my home, back in high school, early season. I would put on my wool shorts, then I wore jeans and a down jacket. I was never dressed correctly. Many times, my down jacket was so wet that it had virtually no loft at all.

My mom bought me a tennis warm up suit one year. It was made by Speedo and was baby blue, top and bottom, a very sexy look. I would tuck the bottoms into my socks and felt like I was wearing nothing. My legs were so much less incumbered compared to Levis. I wore this Speedo warmup suit for a couple years whenever it got cold.

Now I have dressers and closets full of clothing for all conditions. Lots of different thicknesses or knee warmers, leg warmers, tights, base layers, socks, booties, and of course jerseys. That is why it is so perplexing that I could miss the right combination two days in a row. I’m sure I’ll get it down the next few days. It’s only going to be getting colder and windier the next couple months.

Obviously, Bill didn’t want me taking his photo yesterday. He showed up with no jersey on and was begging me for my wind vest nearly the whole ride.

This is just my sock drawer. I’d bet there are way over 100 pair in there. It’s nearly impossible to close. When I first started racing, I somehow judged wealth by the number of pairs of cycling socks I owed. I only had a couple pairs of wool Italian socks. The rest were nylon from Kmart. I’m redoing my closet to try to relocate all my winter stuff.

12 thoughts on “Missed the Dressing Sweet Spot

  1. devin

    you can never have enough socks,,, I missed the dress yesterday and was a nice dad and gave my warm gloves to the kid who missed more than I did… Hope to do better to day riding in the woods.

  2. David N.

    I made sure to organize (and find) all my winter clothing a few weeks ago. Organizing all the gear is one of the better winter tips IMO… It gets me out of the door faster and gives me more time to ride.

  3. Jim B

    Based on the title, I thought this post was going to about the thanksgiving turkey dressing!

    But I too remember the old days of very few clothes for cold weather. I missed the sweet spot then because those few items never seemed to be correct . Nowadays when I miss it it because I made the wrong choice from the many items in my drawer.

  4. jp

    it seems no matter how light i dress and how cold it is or what i wear i am drenched, which means you can nver stop or you’ll freeze, i don’t get it. I also wonder if anyone else experiences deep muscle pain and totally dead legs in colder weather and what that is from.

  5. Noel

    I found a cheap wind shell jacket with zip off sleeves last fall. It has been the perfect addition to making on road adjustments.

  6. jprumm

    In the mid 80’s I rode for a team sponsored by “Gitane Cycles”. They gave us wool tights that were the same as the pro team they sponsored. The even said “Renault Elf” down the legs. I loved those wool tights and still have them to this day.

  7. Max

    I’ve been car-less for a year now. Got it wrong several times last winter. I smartened up and now have a dress chart that I made for temps in 5 degree increments. Helps A LOT!

  8. davidA

    I remember changing my clothes at a Belgian kids house for a Kermis race. Lemond and John Patterson were in the race as well. IT started to rain buckets and one by one all the British guys and myself quit or got shelled out the back. I went back to the house to wash up and the guys mom pulled open a drawer from a chest that was in the hallway and offered me a clean, dry pair of socks from her son who I think ended up in the top 5. There were something like 200 plus pairs of new clean white racing socks in the drawer. Her son was racing to try to become a PRO and had a big supporters club in his village.

  9. Tanner Culbreath

    I always dress a little heavy for the ride to the trails when mountain biking, then ditch all my extras (bottles, jacket, food, etc) and bury it under the leaf litter. This way i am never cold to the trail, and then never cold home, and have extra supplies for a longer day of trail riding!

  10. Bryan

    jp, there are two reasons why riding in the cold is harder: physiology and physics.

    Muscle don’t function as well in the cold, that is a physiological fact. Physics show that as it gets colder, the air density increases making it harder to push through it. Have you ever heard the difference in a jet engine running at 40 degrees vs -40 degrees? It’s remarkable how much harder the engine has to work to pull that thick air through it.


Comments are closed.