Cyclists Guide To Surviving The Holidays – 2015

Thanksgiving_17

Next week begins the Great American Holiday Extravaganza, the time of year where most Americans travel to see family, pack on extra pounds, and generally have a good time. But in the midst of all this revelry, what’s a cyclist to do? All that travel makes it tough to ride, and all that food can make hard-won weight loss gains evaporate in an instant.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here (at least none that won’t end with a high probability of being served divorce papers), but there are a few tricks and tips we can use to stay fit, keep the pounds off, and enjoy the holidays.

1. Try To Ride Early

Even if you have your bike, getting away from family during the holidays can be a pretty tall order. Try riding early, before you’ll be missed. Plus, your in-laws might be impressed when you show up for breakfast, having already gotten a workout in…or not—but you’ll definitely feel better.

2. Alternatives

That ride not going to happen? Try going for a run or doing some core work instead. Running and core work usually takes less time than a run, and all you need to pack is a pair of shoes and some shorts or sweats. Plus, since you won’t be going as far, you don’t have to worry about getting lost on unfamiliar roads. Running will also give you plenty of time to think about how much you miss being back on the bike.

3. Watch Where You Sit

The Thanksgiving and Holiday feasts are unavoidable, but studies show you can help avoid those extra holiday pounds by trying to sit as far from the snacks as possible to prevent mindless eating. Although if your house is anything like ours, that could be easier said than done.

4. Pick Your Favorites

Instead of going all in at dessert time, try setting yourself the goal of only eating what you’ll truly enjoy. Not that we have anything against pecan pie, but we’d rather enjoy an extra slice of pumpkin instead.

5. Drinks

If you’re trying to lose weight this coming year, or have vain hopes of staying at race weight all year long, then watch what you drink. Whenever possible, choose something no- or low-calorie like water or a sugarless electrolyte drink. Instead of beer, try drinking wine or spirits (just not in the same quantities) for that holiday cheer without the pounds. Avoid eggnog like the plague, and lay off the soda.

6. Go Easy On Yourself

Even if you bring your bike with you, don’t worry about it if you don’t make it out for a ride or fail utterly in your attempts to curb your appetite. There are more important things in life than riding bikes, and worse sins than forgoing the diet for a few days. Think of this as a time to reconnect with loved ones, especially family you might not get to see very often, and enjoy yourself. There will be plenty of time for dieting and riding in the coming year.

Good luck you guys, and happy holidays

Good luck, you guys

5 Ways To Stay Warm On Cold Rides

Here we go again…looks like the Polar Vortex has descended upon us once again. We don’t know about you, but so long as we don’t get one of our famous, downhome Carolina Ice Storms, we’ll keep riding outside as much as we can.

Now, you wouldn’t think a bunch of Southerners would know much about riding in the cold, but most of us actually grew up riding, training and racing in places like Vermont, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Portland (Oregon, not Maine– which is a whole other animal), so we’ve learned a few things over the years about riding in the wet, the cold, and the snow.

So here it is: 5 Ways To Stay Warm on Cold Rides.

1. Layer Up

Using layered cycling clothing can help you adjust your temperature to suit the ride and the conditions. You can pretty much layer every part of your clothing system as the conditions warrant, from your feet all the way to your head. Click here for our guide to layering.

PRO TIP #1: No matter how well you think you’ve layer up on top, always bring a wind jacket or vest with you in case conditions take a turn for the worse. #1B is to bring some knee warmers on super cold days– if your knees get cold you can put them on over (but preferably under) your tights for extra coverage.

PRO TIP #2: Spare arm warmers, spare gloves or liners, a spare hat, and base layer can pack up small in a plastic bag that fits easily into a jersey pocket. On long rides, it gives you the option of changing out sweaty, damp garments for warm, dry ones.

PRO TIP #3: Don’t use super thick cycling socks with your cycling shoes. Instead, layer your overshoes as needed, putting insulated ones closer to the foot, covered by wind/waterproof ones.

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

2. Hot Water Bottle

Using an insulated water bottle filled with some warm tea or Skratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon hydration mix (which is absolutely delicious, by the way) can take the edge off a very cold ride. This is a tip that the pro’s use during early season races like Milan-San Remo to stay warm (check out a video here)

Make like the pro's, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides

Make like the pro’s, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides (Orica-GreenEdge)

3. Eat Enough

In the winter, you burn more calories on the bike than during the summer. Not only are you using fuel to exercise, but also to stay warm. That means that during the winter you should fuel up with a healthy breakfast like oatmeal, and then bring plenty of bars, chews or gels to eat while riding. This will give you plenty of carbs to keep your body warm and prevent the dreaded bonk—which could mean serious trouble if you’re far from home on a cold winter’s day.

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

4. Mix In Intervals

If you’re really feeling the cold, trying mixing in some intervals to bring up your body temperature. You can either 1) pick a target a good distance away and ride as hard as you can until you reach it, or 2) go by time, and ride as hard as you can for about a minute. Just make sure you don’t go so hard that you start sweating a lot, which can just make the problem worse.

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

5. Take a Rest

We usually like to plan our long, meandering winter rides with a destination in mind—usually a restaurant or café with warm drinks and food. But it’s OK to take a break at any time if you’re feeling cold, chilled, or just tired. Stop at a gas station, coffee shop, café, whatever, warm up and take a breather.

Go in and get warm, grab some hot tea or coffee, and eat a cookie.

PRO TIP #1: If you’re feeling the chill from a damp clothing, you can use your rest stop to change into your spare base layer, spare gloves or liners, and hat. That way you can go back out into the cold feeling dry and warm.

PRO TIP #2: If your toes are feeling very cold on your ride, see if you can get some aluminum foil or a foil food wrapper, and wrap up your toes. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it does provide some additional insulation.

PRO TIP #3: Ask if the coffee shop or restaurant can refill your water bottles with hot water.

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

Real Advice: Setting Up Your Trainer Room

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1. Pick the Room

Even trainers that claim to be “ultra-quiet” are still going to generate enough noise to annoy someone in an adjacent room. Pick a room that’s separated from others in the house, such as a basement, garage, or spare bedroom. Make sure you have room to set up the trainer and angle it toward your entertainment of choice. And remember folks—make sure that floor is level-ish. An uneven floor can make the trainer rock, putting a ton of stress on your hips (no good) and the bike frame (really no good).

 

2. Sweat Catching

Since you’re not going to be riding anywhere, there will be no air moving on you. That means you’re going to sweat more. To avoid ruining the carpet or hardwood, set up a trainer mat or towel underneath your bike. To avoid ruining your bike (specifically the headset and BB bearings), use a sweat catcher or hang a towel over your bike.

Using a sweat net or towel can help preserve the life of your compoents

Using a sweat net or towel can help preserve the life of your compoents

3. Cooling

Since riding the trainer gets super-hot, it’s a good idea to set up a fan to keep from overheating. Even a cheap mini tabletop fan can make a world of difference. Using a fan doesn’t preclude following Step 2—you’re still going to sweat like a demon.

 

Not sure what kind of trainer to get? Check out our guide.

 

4. Entertainment

Riding the trainer with nothing to do can get really, really boring really, really fast. Make sure you have a TV, tablet, or computer to watch a movie or do a structured work out.

PRO TIP: Since there trainer is loud and you’ll have a fan running, if you’re in a domestic living situation or have housemates, it is generally considered polite to invest a couple of bucks in a headphone extension cord or some wireless headphones so you’re not tempted to crank the TV volume.

Using headphones can help maintain domestic harmony

Using headphones can help maintain domestic harmony

5. At Hand

Set up a stool or some medium height shelves next to your bike. It should be at about a height where you can reach it comfortable while seated in the saddle. This will ensure that your remotes, computer mouse, gels, spare water bottle, spare towel, etc… are all easily at hand.

 

6. Be Prepared

The trainer is usually more demanding than an outdoor workout. Not only do you have the increased resistance of the unit itself, but heat buildup and a tough structured workout can really take it out of you. For an hour long trainer session, you should have 3 water bottles (2 of them filled a hydration drink) and some gels to keep your energy levels up and avoid dehydration.

 

Build A Home Gym On A Budget

Here’s a fun fact: you can build a pretty comprehensive home gym for under $250. As the days get shorter, darker, and colder a lot of workouts that used to be done outside have to get moved inside. We’re pretty hardy winter warriors, but there’s weather even we won’t go out into.

So when one of those famous Carolina ice storms descends upon Chapel Hill, we break out the following equipment to get in a full, comprehensive workout to stay in shape, stay limber, and cross train through the winter months.

 

CARDIO

Indoor Cycling Trainer (~$149.99-$1,899)

The indoor trainer is an amazing piece of equipment. Even a budget-priced model can deliver a hard, lung busting workout. Simply clamp your road or mountain bike into it, get on, and start pedaling. Sure, it can be fairly monotonous, but a quick Youtube search for ‘cycling trainer workout’  can yield plenty of tough, structured workouts to help you get the most out of your time.

Check out our guide to cycling trainers here.

 

At only $149.99, the Travel Trac Comp trainer is a great value on an excellent workout

At only $149.99, the Travel Trac Comp trainer is a great value on an excellent workout

STRENGTH/FLEXIBILITY

Trainer Mat ($49.99)

This is one of the most versatile fitness items we’ve ever owned. It’s designed to go under your bike while in the trainer to help dampen noise and catch dripping sweat. But we also use it for yoga, core workouts, pushups/sit ups, and more.

The trainer mat is a versatile piece of equipment, ideal for using with the trainer, for yoga, or strength training

The trainer mat is a versatile piece of equipment, ideal for using with the trainer, for yoga, or strength training

 Resistance Bands, Kettle Bells, or Fit Balls (~$29.99-$79.99 for a set)

We used to have a pretty comprehensive set of free weights (in fact, they might still be in the basement somewhere), but these days we mostly just use a resistance bands and kettle bells for our workouts. Resistance bands can be used to build strength, enhance flexibility, and improve your overall fitness, while kettle bells are excellent for strengthening muscles we don’t use much during cycling.

*We recommend speaking with a personal trainer or coach before beginning any weight or resistance training to ensure proper exercise form and avoid injury

 

RECOVERY

Foam Roller ($17.99-$39.99)

The foam roller has become an essential tool for us. Using the foam roller can help loosen up tight muscles and adhesions, keeping you loose and flexible which makes you more resistant to injury.

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

 

TOTAL FOR A WHOLE GYM: $249.96

So lets hear it, did we miss anything? What’s your favorite piece of home workout equipment? Tell us in the comments section.

Last Chance 2014 Gran Fondos

Gran Fondos are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist

Gran Fondos are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist

If you’ve gotten out to some of our Great Ride Series rides at our stores, you’ve probably realized how awesome a group ride is. If you’re ready to take it to the next step though, you might just be ready for a Gran Fondo.

Gran Fondo’s are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist, have fun at a well organized event, and give you a goal to work towards. Gran Fondos are usually challenging rides of 100 miles or more (though often organizers offer medio and piccolo routes for shorter distances), and most organizers pride themselves on finding the hardest routes possible.

If you’re looking for an event to end your year on a high note, these rides might be your last chances until next year.

No matter where in the country you live, there are a few rides left that can give you a chance to see how you stack up, or just give you some bragging rights with your buddies.

Did we miss your favorite ride? Tell us about it in the comments section.

WEST COAST / SOUTHWEST

Tri State Gran Fondo

October 11, 2014

Mosquite, NV

Challenge Gran Fondo

October 12, 2014

Durham, CA

Tour de Scottsdale

October 12, 2014

Scottsdale, AZ

El Grande Fondo de Los Angeles Crest

October 18, 2014

Los Angeles, CA

 

 

ROCKIE MOUNTAINS

Tour de St. George Fall Gran Fondo

October 25, 2014

St. George, UT

The Coal Miner Gran Fondo

October 31, 2014

Steamboat Springs, CO

 

 

EAST COAST

Gran Fondo Virginia

October 11, 2014

Albemarle County, VA

New Holland Bicycle Race Gran Fondo

October 11, 2014

New Holland, PA

Tour of the Battenkill Fall Preview Ride

October 11, 2014

Greenwich, NY

Oktoberfest Ride

October 12, 2014

Collegeville, PA

Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic

October 12, 2014

Lehigh Valley, PA

Hincapie Gran Fondo

October 25, 2014

Greenville, SC

Florida Cycling Challenge

October 31, 2014

Daytona, FL

Bookwater Binge Charity Gran Fondo

November 1, 2014

Asheville, NC

 

To learn how to prepare for your next big ride, check out these articles:

Brian’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo Recap

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Our coworker Brian just completed Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Harrisonburg, VA this weekend. It has a reputation as the toughest ride on the East Coast, and with it’s combination of long distances, steep hills, and gravel, has been known to take even very experienced riders to their limits. Fortunately, Brian finished the gran fondo, and we’re checking in with him to see how it went, what he would do differently, and what advice he has for anyone wanting to attempt it next year.

-Hi Brian. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt going into the gran fondo?

I felt pretty good going into it, but I think I could do better next year. My fitness was generally pretty good, but not having done it before, I definitely wasn’t ready for how difficult the gravel climbs would be, and they took their toll. I also made some stupid mistakes in the first half of the ride that almost undid me in the second half. Other than that, I felt pretty good on the bike, and was overall just happy to have finished.

-What was your favorite part?

Crossing the finish line to find my amazing girlfriend waiting with a bottle of Clif Recovery drink and a plate of food.

My favorite part of the actual ride was the descent off the first KOM section. Wide open highway, gentle curves, and high speeds. It was really exhilarating, and not something I get to experience too often. You truly get a feeling of flying, and it’s one of the most fun things I think you can do on a bike.

IMG_8212

Riders for the Gran Fondo, Medio, and Piccolo routes all started together

-What was your least favorite part?

I think the two gravel climbs might be physically the hardest thing I’ve done, but the last 20 miles was much more difficult, mentally. Even on a really, really hard climb like Reddish Knob you can still settle into a rhythm—you just accept that you’ll be pedaling until the top and get to work. The last 20 miles however was full of short and steep rollers that were just long enough and steep enough to be very mentally draining after so much saddle time.

-What equipment choices worked well?

I think the Gatorskin Hardshell is  probably the single most impressive piece of cycling equipment I’ve ever used. I hit some rocks (not gravel, straight up rocks) and holes that by all rights should have detonated a clincher tire, yet I never flatted the entire ride.

The compact was also a great choice. No, actually, it was the only choice. After the first road climb I thought maybe I should have gone with a 52/36 chainring combo instead of a 50/34. After the first gravel climb though, I realized I never would have gotten up it with a 36.

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The route passed through some beautiful Amish country

 

-What equipment would you change next year?

-I think next year I would definitely ride a cyclocross bike or an endurance road bike. Something like the GT Grade or a Fuji Altamira CX with bigger tire clearance, disc brakes and a lighter weight would have been perfect.

-25mm tires were fine, but next year I’m definitely going with 28mm or 30mm tires

-Lighter wheels. My winter wheels were chosen for their durability, but it didn’t take long before I started feeling the 2150g weight. Having seen the course, I would feel more comfortable using a carbon wheel next year.

- I’ll probably consider using a mid-cage SRAM WiFli rear derailleur with an 11-32 cassette instead of an 11-27, just to get that extra bail out gear.

 

-Would you do it again?

After I crossed the finish line I swore I would never do it again. But I woke up on Monday morning thinking about how I would train and set up my bike differently next time. So I guess the answer is yes, I will probably be on the start line next year.

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Crossing the finish line is usually the high point of the day for the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

-Any advice for someone thinking about doing it next year?

-Spend as much time climbing as you can! I didn’t this year, and I definitely paid for it. Not immediately, but later in the ride.

-Take full advantage of all the aid stations. I didn’t spend much time at the first two, only stopping to fill up on fluids and that was a big mistake which I blame on race day excitement. I should have stayed a few minutes longer to eat real food and stretch, but instead I ended up bonking around mile 60 and really suffering up Reddish Knob and the last part of the ride.

-Don’t take the “pro pee break” at mile 15. The only people who will stop are the pro’s and super strong riders, so you’ll find yourself alone very quickly, with nobody to pace up the climb.

-Run the widest tires your bike will fit, and make sure you have new brake pads on your bike

-Don’t start all loaded down with your own food. The aid stations are really well stocked, and had Honey Stinger gels and mini Clif Bars you could take with you. I would recommend just having 1 or 2 gels in your pocket at the start, just in case, and then loading up at the aid stations.

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Jeremiah Bishop won. Again. You really can’t put a price on home road advantage.

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of The Off Season

I guess we’re getting just about to that point of the year. The days get shorter, the group rides start to taper off, and the last of the gran fondos and event rides are just about over. For racers, the last road races of the season should be in a week or two.

For many, it means taking some well-deserved time off. For most though, it means it’s time to start thinking about the off-season.

Now don’t let the term “off-season” fool you—this is the best time of year for riding. But to rest, recover, and come back stronger next year, follow these simple tips for the rest of this year.

 

1. Long Steady Distance (LSD)

This fall, ride longer and slower than you normally would. This is the time of year for sprawling weekend rides in the little ring. And when we say steady, we mean slow and steady. Take it conversation-pace easy, ride with a buddy, and have a good time.

Why: During the high season of cycling most riders concentrate on high intensity work, which is great for building strength, but often neglect the slow burn work that builds aerobic capacity. LSD riding during the fall and winter will help you build a good aerobic base for the spring.

long steady distance

Fall and winter are the time for slow, steady, meandering rides to take in the scenery, enjoy a mid-ride conversation, and build an aerobic base

 

2. Mix It Up

During the fall we normally introduce more rest days into our week. Normally we ride 5-6 days a week during the summer, but usually reduce it to just 3 or 4 during the fall, with half of those being mountain bike or ‘cross rides.

Why: Letting your body and mind rest by riding fewer days and mixing up the type of riding you do is incredibly important. The rest days give your body time to recover and rebuild, while varying up your riding routine helps prevent mental burnout.

mix it up

Mixing in some mountain biking can be a good way to keep from mentally burning out

 

3. Get Stronger

Run. Lift weights. Do core work. In short, try to work out the muscles you don’t use much during cycling.

Why: Cycling is a single plane exercise that only works a few muscles in specific directions. Running, lifting weights, and core work can help strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments to help prevent injury.

*If it’s been a few years since you last ran or lifted, go easy until your tendons, ligaments and muscles can adapt. Most cyclists are very aerobically fit, which means when they start running or lifting they can easily injure themselves by trying to do too much too soon.

For running start out easy with a half a mile once a week to start, then build in .5 mile increments from there.

For weight lifting we recommend consulting a personal trainer before you start. It’s worth the $30 or $40 it costs for a session if it avoids a more costly injury later from using too much weight or improper form.

Running and lifting weights can help you get in shape for 'cross season and make you more injury resistant next year

Running and lifting weights can help you get in shape for ‘cross season and make you more injury resistant next year

4. Stretch It Out

Last weekend we pulled the yoga mat out of the closet and started going to our traditional off-season classes again. With darker days coming, this is a great time to start doing some yoga or pilates that can help lengthen tight muscles, reducing the chance of injury and the inflammation that builds up after months or riding.

Why: Cycling can be very hard on muscles, and when overworked they often respond by shortening and forming adhesions and muscles knots. Dynamic lengthening exercises like yoga and pilates help safely stretch out those muscles, helping to reduce back, neck and shoulder pain, and make you more flexible, which also makes you more resistant to injury.

yoga

Yoga and pilates are good ways to get more limber to help avoid injury

 

5. Mix In Intensity

We know we just said to go easy through the fall and winter. But make sure you’re doing the occasional high intensity ride that really pushes up your heart rate and makes you work hard. Try doing a hard intervals ride or a difficult trainer session once a week or once every other week.

Why: Low intensity is a good thing for recovery, but too much of it can lead to detraining, which is where you begin to loose fitness. Studies show that by doing occasional high intensity training, you can preserve your peak fitness by up to 15 weeks. Think of it as kind of like occasionally starting the engine on a car that’s been put away for the winter.

intensity

Long and slow distance is the name of the game– but don’t forget to get some high intensity work in too

Brian’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo Prep

It’s that time of year again… time for one of our employees to put themselves to the test with Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. We’ve covered this event before in the past, where clothing buyer Zach, and others, have tackled this legendarily tough ride.

Starting in Harrisonburg, VA the ride covers about 105 miles and features over 11,000 feet of climbing. And just to make sure that it’s extra tough, the two biggest climbs are a combination of dirt and gravel.

It’s going to be a tough one, but well worth it to raise money for prostate cancer.

This year, Brian, our content and media writer, will be undertaking the challenge. He’s a fairly experienced cyclist, and has been training hard since May, after doing the Ronde van Vlaanderen Sportif in Belgium. He’s never done the ride before, but he says he’s feeling pretty good.

Find out more about his preparation and his equipment below.

alpine_loop_bike_prep_005

What made you want to do the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo?

Ever since I moved to North Carolina and came to work at Performance, I’ve heard stories about how hard it is. I love looking for long, challenging rides that really test my fitness and push my limits. As I’ve gotten older I’ve kind of lost interest in actual racing, but I still like to get competitive on a bike, and see how I stack up against other riders. Gran Fondo’s are a perfect opportunity to do that, whether you’ve raced in the past or are just getting into the sport.

What are you excited about?

Finally doing the Alpine Loop. I planned to do the Gran Fondo in both 2012 and 2013, but had to miss out for various reasons. Third time is a charm I guess. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to ending the season on a high note.

What are you feeling nervous about?

The big climbs. It was a busy summer for me, and I didn’t get a chance to go out to the mountains for some of those long, hour long climbs. Mostly this year I’ve done stuff like the Ronde with short, punchy, hills. I did a lot of Youtube trainer workouts for climbing though, so I guess on Sunday we’ll see if that was enough.

What bike will you be using?

Scattante Titanium. Anyone remember those? I was lucky enough to get my hands on one a few years back and it’s been my go to for long distance rides. Nice upright endurance geometry, and the titanium is excellent for handling road vibration.

I built it up with Campy 11-speed, and some burly handbuilt 32-spoke wheels.

Brian's titanium Scattante frame should be the right tool for the job

Brian’s titanium Scattante frame should be the right tool for the job

Did you make any special equipment changes for the Alpine Loop?

Yeah, absolutely. 100+ miles, 11K feet of climbing, gravel…that’s a long day on the bike and you need to be ready.

 

What equipment will you be using?

Brian's clothing and equipment choices for the Alpine Loop

Brian’s clothing and equipment choices for the Alpine Loop

 

There’s a lot of gnarly gravel sections. What repair items are you carrying?

tool-knoll

 

What else will you carry?

Even though the Gran Fondo will have food available, Brian is bringing plenty of his own, just in case

Even though the Gran Fondo will have food available, Brian is bringing plenty of his own, just in case

 

Thanks Brian, and good luck!

Check back next week for Brian’s Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo recap.

 

To learn more about how to prepare for your next big ride, check out these articles:

Build A Fall Cycling Wardrobe

fall-clothing-essentials

The weather isn’t cold….yet. But it’s getting there. Which means that now is the time to get your cycling wardrobe ready for the change. After all, fall is probably the best time to ride, and you don’t want to be stuck inside on that first beautifully cool day because you don’t have the right clothes.

The key to riding in fall is versatility through layering. Since the day can start off cold but heat up later, layers of clothing allow you to start the ride warm, then shed the small, easily packable outerlayers as you ride.

 

Here are 7 Fall Clothing Essentials:

 

1. Arm and Leg Warmers

These are probably the most versatile items in the cyclist’s arsenal. Warmers can help extend the temperature range of your shorts and jerseys well down into the 50’s and 60’s…lower if you run hot. Pair them with a vest or jacket to get even more versatility.

 

Arm warmers may be the most versatile clothing option you have

Arm warmers may be the most versatile clothing option you have

2. Vest

The vest is probably the second most versatile item you can own. Wear it over a short sleeve jersey when the day starts cool, pair with arm and leg warmers on colder days, or bring it along to layer over a jacket if the weather really turns.

They’re so light, offer so much protection, and roll up so small, there’s no reason not to bring it with you on every fall ride.

 

The vest is a close second. Small, packable, and protective

The vest is a close second. Small, packable, and protective

3. Jacket

As awesome as the vest and warmers are, they can only take you so far into the season. At some point, you’ll need some more protection. Fall isn’t quite thermal softshell territory yet (save the big guns for winter), but a thermal jacket can help you stay warmer as we get into later October and early November.

 

A wind jacket is essential as it gets later into the season

A wind jacket is essential as it gets later into the season

4. Full Finger Gloves

Keep those digits warm. There’s nothing worse on a ride than having cold fingers (except for maybe cold feet). So keep them warm by wearing some good, full finger gloves. A decent long finger glove can keep your fingers warm in brisk weather, without all the insulation you usually need in a big winter glove.

 

Full finger gloves offer plenty of protection without bulk

Full finger gloves offer plenty of protection without bulk

5. Baselayer

A baselayer serves two purposes in fall: 1) it gives you a little bit of extra warmth for cooler days—which can be a real blessing on cold mornings, and 2) it helps wick away sweat. The second part is important, because fall days can have you feeling too hot one minute, and too cold the next, so the baselayer helps control your core temperature.

 

Baselayers help control your core temperature, to keep you warm without overheating

Baselayers help control your core temperature, to keep you warm without overheating

6. Toe Covers

Since cycling shoes are usually the closest fitting shoes most people have, there’s not enough room to wear a thicker wool sock. Instead, most cyclists opt for the overshoe or toe warmers to keep their feet warm on cooler rides. The big advantage of toe warmers is that they don’t completely cover all the vents, so your foot can still vent some extra heat. If the day really warms up, they’re small enough to fit easily in a jersey pocket.

 

Toe covers keep toes warm, but are easy to remove and pack down small

Toe covers keep toes warm, but are easy to remove and pack down small

7. Headband

This is an ear saver when rides start on cooler mornings. It helps keep the cold wind off your forehead and ears, but doesn’t make you overheat like a full skullcap might. As the ride rolls on and the day warms up, you can just pull over and take it off. They roll up so tiny you might even lose it in your jersey pocket afterwards.

 

The headband is an excellent item for early morning starts

The headband is an excellent item for early morning starts

 

Did we miss any essentials? Let us know in the comments.

Real Advice: 4 Fall Ride Essentials

As the summer draws to a close, the kinds of riding most of us do changes too. For some a long summer of training and racing has left the legs feeling fairly torched and ready for a rest with slower, leisurely rides. For others, the cooler temperatures mean that it’s now more comfortable to put in those long, big mile days in the saddle.

No matter how you ride this fall though, here are 4 things you shouldn’t leave the house without.

1. Complete Repair Kit

In most parts of the country, fall is a pretty rainy time of year. That means that there’s lots of extra stuff on the roads that can give you a flat, and rain and road grit can take a bigger toll on your chain.

While we normally eschew the seat wedge during the summer and roll with a minimal flat kit, during the fall and winter we embrace it, and stuff it with:

A full repair kit is a must for fall riding

A full repair kit is a must for fall riding

 

2. Lights

No matter what time it is when we leave the house for a ride, we always bring some emergency lights this time of year.

Small, lightweight LED’s are easy to affix to your bars and seatpost, or fit easily in a pocket. Having a front and rear light can help you stay visible in traffic when it gets dark, when the sky is overcast, or the weather turns bad.

Small LED lights, like these Blackburn lights, are lightweight and easy to attach

Small LED lights, like these Blackburn lights, are lightweight and easy to attach

 

3. Vest / Jacket

A packable wind jacket or vest will roll up small and easily fits into a jersey pocket. This is a September-April essential for us, since the weather can change quickly and you never know when you might need it.

A vest is a great option for warmer or windy days when the primary concern is keeping the core warm. They also roll up super tiny, so they take up minimal pocket room when you take them off.

Jackets are a better option for days that a very windy, have a chance of rain, or when you’ll be doing climbs that involve long descents. They are a little bulkier, but the fuller protection and wind/water-resistant fabrics will provide more complete protection against the elements.

A packable wind jacket or vest can help you be prepared for changeable weather

A packable wind jacket or vest can help you be prepared for changeable weather

 

4. Cash

Cards are great, but cash is still king. If you’re going for a long ride into the country, there are fewer better pit stops during a ride then stopping at a roadside produce stand for some harvest-fresh apples, cider, or other treats. Not only are they healthier than most snacks we eat on the road, but are super fresh and usually only for sale for a few short weeks.

Carrying some cash with you is ensures you'll always be ready for a pit stop

Carrying some cash with you is ensures you’ll always be ready for a pit stop

 

What do you carry when you ride?

Tell us in the comments.

 

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