This is a guest feature from All Things Ride, a community of like-minded cyclists who create bespoke trips for some of the best and most challenging cycling events across Europe.
Head, Shoulders, Hands and Toes!
Riding in the rain can be a pretty mixed experience. Either you’ve been caught out in a shower you weren’t expecting, or you are committed to a ride for training, transport, or competition in the knowledge that it’s going to be wet. Though sometimes the conditions conspire against you and you’re stuck with the Type 2 fun (which is only fun in retrospect from a warm cafe or pub!), there are a few pieces of cycling kit that can help minimise the effects of all but the worst conditions. Assuming you have all the essential kit for a regular ride, these five accessories cover the necessities to make wet weather cycling enjoyable… sometimes!
Many, if not most, go for a full skull cap under their helmet as their choice of cycling headwear on the coldest days. For us, a Castelli headband (or similar) is the business. A simple lightweight brushed back fleece, this keeps the forehead and ears warm in the cold whilst still allowing heat to easily escape through the top of the helmet. Plus, there’s less fabric to get soaked through in the rain and it will dry quicker than a full cap. You don’t freeze, neither do you overheat as you or the day (or both) warm up, meaning you can wear it for the ride and forget it’s there.
If you are heading out for a ride and it’s already tipping down, it would make sense to have a full waterproof layer, or accept you’re going to get very wet. More often it’s a case of unexpected showers, big changes in the weather, or chilly and wet descents, so it pays to carry an emergency lightweight shell jacket. A packable, lightweight shell can be a godsend – a water repellent finish will keep the worst of the wet at bay and the wind out. It then folds neatly back into itself to be tucked away until the next April shower.
There is nothing worse than damp, numb fingers after a rain shower or during a wet ride. Thankfully the aptly named Sealskins range have come to the rescue – a selection of cycling gloves for varied conditions with a reputation for waterproof performance. The Elgin glove is a favourite in the cold and wet: a good level of insulation without bulk is at the core, matched to a fully waterproof and breathable membrane. For added warmth or on their own when less warmth is needed, you can slip a lightweight pair of merino liner gloves, which give that extra little bit of cover.
Keeping feet warm and dry is a perennial challenge, with many tricks of the trade banded around and plenty of socks and accessories available. Neoprene is the base material for many winter cycling overshoes due to its warmth, stretch properties and the ability to repel water – to a point. In torrential rain it can be near on impossible to effectively repel water, however keeping the feet warm is the number one priority here, so matching a good set of shoe covers with warm merino wool socks (which are less likely to smell) and your feet will remain warm, even if a little dampness does creep in.
Purists might say that mudguards on a road bike is heresy, and for your favourite carbon climber or pro peloton styling then we’d agree. But for a winter bike, commuter, or for regular miles in foul weather, the right guards can make a huge difference. Combine good coverage of your wheels with a stylish design and you’ll end up with a lot less road spray for yourself and anyone unlucky enough to be behind you!
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