Fall is a great season for riding, but dressing for the cooler weather can be difficult. It’s usually too cold for shorts and a tee-shirt, but too hot for heavy pants and a jacket. Either combo will leave you uncomfortable.
Everyone has heard the term, “Dress in layers”, and this is the best advice for fall riding. The two pieces of clothing pictured here are the wind vest and “therma fleece” arm warmers from Pearl Izumi. Both of these items are easily stowable in a jersey pocket or pack.
The wind vest keeps your core body temperature warm, but has a huge vent in the back to get rid of excess moisture and heat. You can easily control body temperature with the front zipper. Another version of this vest has removable arms for further versatility. I’ve found that vests work great for temperatures in the 50’s and upper 40’s, as wearing a full jacket in these temperatures can be stifling once you get riding.
Also highly recommended are arm warmers. Many rides will start off comfortable with a short sleeve, but get cooler as the sun goes down or goes behind the clouds. The arm warmers provide great comfort when the temperatures drop while still maintaining breatheability. Arm warmers can also be worn under a long sleeve jersey for an additional layer of insulation on the really cold days.
Headbands made from very thin but warm fabric like microfleece are a good item to have with you too. A head band will keep the cold wind off your forehead and ears, but let excess body heat escape out the top our your head and through the helmet.
Knee warmers are also available, but I’ve haven’t had good luck with them. They tend to constantly slip down unless you have strong elastic on your shorts. There is a great (and very funny) review of knee warmers over on the Fat Cyclist blog HERE. I think knickers may be a better choice than knee warmers.
I bought the above items at the REI in Reno, and there are some good selections at the local bike shops. There is also a Pearl Izumi outlet store up at South Tahoe (located at the “Y”). I’ve had the best results trying cycling clothing on before purchase. There are a lot of great deals on the internet, but in the end, I’ve usually been disappointed with fit and styling.
Fall is pretty short around here, so I’ll be discussing winter clothing pretty soon!