March 13, 2010
Spring can be a tricky season to prepare for as far as clothing is concerned. It can fluctuate quite a bit, and mentally, I always find myself thinking that I can get away with less than I should. To help make sure that you're more prepared than I am, here are some articles of clothing that are ideal for spring, and will also come in handy for early morning summer rides, and fall conditions.
1. Arm, Leg, and Knee Warmers: These are really nice because they can easily be shed if the weather warms up during your ride, and they pack down very well. Different brands use different mixes of materials, and I wouldn't say that one is particularly better than the other. It all comes down to preference. Some are made of wool, while others use a spandex material with varying amounts of fleece insulation. With the full leg warmers, I would suggest finding something with a zipper cuff, which makes it very easy to pull them off and on over your shoes.
2. Rain Gear: Nothing will send chills through your body faster than a cold rain or drizzle, making rain gear a must have. We have always been big fans of Showers Pass, which are made in one of the wettest cities in the northwest, Portland, Oregon. Whatever you use to stay dry, it's always a bonus if you can find a bright colored rain jacket to keep you visible on the dreary roads.
3. Shoe Covers: You can leave the insulated booties at home, but you will still want an extra layer on your feet. Much like the arm, leg, and knee warmers, these can easily be shed when the weather warms up, and will pack down nicely. They can be found as waterproof shells, or with a tightly woven synthetic material.
4. Head Gear: Aside from your helmet, it's a good idea to have a lightweight headband, or cycling cap to keep your ears warms, and prevent too much heat from escaping.
5. Gloves: Nothing too fancy needed here. I've seen people use all sorts of different styles of light gloves for spring touring, from cycling specific full-fingered gloves, to waterproof kayaking gloves, all the way to gardening gloves with a waterproof coating. If not for comfort, you want to make sure your hands stay warm to hang onto your dexterity.
Like most things with cycling, your spring apparel will be fine tuned to your specific region by a process of trial and error. The more you ride, the better feel you will get for what you need to have in order to stay warm when transitioning from one season to another.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.