Not Evangelism

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Move from Summer to Autumn

After the recent Mechanical, I only got the bike back from the LBS in time for one day's commute, last Friday. And what a ride! Shifting was a dream; smooth and precise on the new rear mech, cassette and chain. The newly-replaced brakes were sharper, more responsive - the whole bike feeling restored, like new.

And what a morning for a bike ride: cool (8 degrees Celsius) but not yet that autumnal crisp that comes with the colder days; the morning sunny, the air still. It was the kind of day for flying along in that beautiful cadence, where the legs are moving easily and effortlessly, turning the wheels, speeding the bike along. The kind of day that was made for cycling. A glorious ride, in both directions. The evening was warm enough that I didn't need my jacket, a pleasant reward for making the effort in the morning.

These are the days to seize at this time of year, before the long dark days of battle begin; the battle against the little voice that suggests it's too cold, too wet, too dark to cycle. This is the battle that is fought every dreary morning through the next few months, and such bright days are welcome respite, a reminder of all the good and great reasons to cycle. These are the memories I keep in stock, and draw on those darker days to come.

Despite the sunshine, though, I did feel the need for my now very battered and grimy Altura NightVision Waterproof Jacket, to keep the chill of the wind off at the start of the day. And because I've just cut my hair again, I added a skull cap below my helmet - adding more welcome warmth. Happily the morning wasn't so cold that I experienced the fierce pain of the ice cream headache as I cruised down the hill at the start of the Morning Commute.

Even so, I guess this ride marks the transition from the summer wardrobe to the spring/autumn wardrobe, the need to switch to longer gloves, a waterproof jacket; the need to add those extra layers against the autumnal weather.

Cycle Commuting: What to Wear

Because my commute is relatively short (just 20km each way, around 11.75 miles), and the terrain not particularly challenging, I have no need of particularly specialist clothes for cycle commuting. But I am convinced of the benefits of having cycle-specific clothing. Sure, some people are happy to wear their workday clothes on the bike, but I don't like the idea of arriving grubby and wet if the weather's a bit miserable. I like the option to push hard if I feel like it on that ride, without arriving sweaty and smelly. And I like avoiding the excuse not to ride if the weather looks a bit questionable; just the chance of rain, and the thought of spending a miserable day in wet clothes would be enough to put me off. By wearing dedicated clothes (and keeping my workday clothes in a waterproof dry bag), I remove one more excuse not to take the bike to work.

My summer wardrobe, then, looks like this:
For my spring and autumn commute, I add my Altura NightVision Jacket as my waterproof and windproof layer to keep me warm and if need be, dry; I have waterproof leggings that I'll keep handy, and I choose gloves that have fingers.

In the very cold weather that winter sometimes brings, I can survive quite happily with a merino wool base layer underneath my jersey, and my Altura NightVision Waterproof Gloves are so toasty warm that my hands are positively glowing by the end of the ride. A Gortex skull cap keeps the water and wind off my head, and a pair of SealSkinz waterproof socks guard against wet feet.

Nothing fancy or expensive here, then; solid, reliable kit for a year of cycle commuting.

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