I then weigh up the following thoughts:
- How long is the ride?
- How cold is it?
- Is it sunny?
- Is it windy?
- Is it wet on the ground?
- How likely is it to rain?
Where to start?
Standard riding gear for me assumes it is dry and the temperature is above 16 degrees. The list includes fingerless gloves, a short or long sleeve top, bib shorts, socks, and cycling shoes. I also carry with me a rain/wind jacket and consider other optional items such as arm warmers, leg warmers, and a lightweight hat.
As the temperature drops towards 12 to 14 degrees, I add a gilet and below 12 degrees I switch to long legged lightweight tights, base layers, and optional long-fingered gloves.
Below 7 degrees my preference is to keep my legs warm and my trunk as dry as possible. Most experts advise you to layer up at low temperatures. This means wearing a base layer, a mid-layer and a windproof layer.
What you choose to do will also depend on your body weight, fat level, how much you perspire, fitness level, and the speed you cycle. A common mistake is to leave the house dressed to feel warm before you start. When cycling you burn a lot of energy and so you will get warm. In winter, even when it is icy, I find that I sweat when I wear more than one layer. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the temperature is below or close to zero I find long-fingered gloves too hot.
The advice is to feel cool, wear items that will let your body breathe, and dress as if you have warmed up.
In cold conditions, it is always wise to carry a windproof jacket, and arm and leg warmers that you can slip on/off when stopped or riding in deteriorating or improving conditions.
And so on to the seasonal clock. The graphic shows cycling apparel for a wide range of conditions:
Details on each item of clothing and when best to wear can be found on the bicyclehabit blog.
Where possible be sure to sport club colors. The BTS kit covers you for a wide range of conditions. There is always free advice available and if all else fails, and you choose not to ride, the alternative is lycra based retail therapy with a close friend.