Wardrobe amnesia

My favorite times of year are when the seasons change. Having lived in the Midwest my entire life, I’ve witnessed plenty of these transformations — it never gets old.

(Additionally, I never really mind that crazy day or two each summer where the high is somehow 60 and it’s dark and cloudy the entire time. Change is nice, really.)

One would think, though, that armed with this seasons-changing knowledge I’d have an uncanny knack for remembering what that seasonal shift actually feels like. Unfortunately, I do not. I spent the first hour of last Saturday’s ride with frozen fingers and chattering teeth.

Those gloves that I thought were fine for 50 degrees? Well, yes, they are. But the problem was that it was actually only 44. And in that case, those gloves were not enough. And I can’t even begin to fathom how awful it would have been had I gone sans baselayer, as I was originally thinking.

All of this comes after being in the same position a year ago (and the year before that, etc.). Basically, I forgot what 44 degrees feels like. (It’s cold, if you’re wondering.) That teeth-chattering ride jogged my memory, though. And pretty soon, though, I’ll settle into the routine. If you’re interested, here’s my breakdown on what goes on, and when:

Above 60 degrees
- Summer kit. Period.

Between 50 and 60
- Arm warmers
- Cap under the helmet
- Knee warmers or embrocation
- Full-finger gloves (summer weight)
- Baselayer if it’s closer to 50

Between 40 and 50
- Arm warmers
- Cap under the helmet (maybe a full skull cap closer to 40)
- Knee warmers or embrocation
- Full-finger gloves (windshell gloves)
- Baselayer or light vest
- Toe covers in the mid-40s, shoe covers in the low-40s

Between 30 and 40
- Arm warmers or long-sleeve thermal jersey
- Skull cap under the helmet
- Knee warmers (sometimes with embrocation)
- Wool socks
- Thermal gloves
- Shoe covers
- Baselayer or vest

Below 30
- Thermal jersey or winter jacket
- Skull cap under the helmet
- Thermal bib shorts (with leg warmers) or thermal bib tights
- Heavier wool socks
- Shoe covers
- Base layer
- Heavy gloves

Below 20
- Just ride the trainer

Obviously, those are ranges and clothing choices that work well for me. I tend to dress a bit lighter than my regular riding partners. Their rule is typically, “add one layer to whatever he’s wearing.” For me, the goal is to be comfortable at the pace of the ride, not standing around in the parking lot. Because if I’m toasty warm while we’re hanging out waiting to leave, I’ll probably be too hot on the bike.

And if it’s under 20? That’s choose-your-own-adventure territory there. I’ve ridden plenty with temps in the teens, and I have to say I haven’t really enjoyed any of those rides. I spent way too much time trying to stay warm instead of enjoying the ride. And if you do go out? Wear lots of layers, and don’t skimp on the hands and feet.

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