The challenge of Autumnal clothing selection

There are two times of the year I struggle more than others to pick out the clothes to wear on a ride. The first half of Autumn and the first half of Spring. When it’s properly warm or properly cold it’s pretty straight forward, as I have clear clothing choices for riding in both of those situations. Right now it’s tricky but will get easier as the temperatures drop further. At the moment it can start warm and get cold or vice versa but that’s not all. Each riding day currently sees me making a bee-line for the temperature gauge in my garden first thing, to establish my starting temperature. Then it’s a check of the weather forecast on both the BBC website and my smartphone app to see what the next few hours bring.
Then it’s a question of going through my riding wardrobe and getting out two sets of clothing to decide from. They’ll be arm warmers and leg warmers, a gilet, maybe some bib tights, a softshell jacket, a rain jacket (usually), ideally a merino base layer – still short sleeved for now and of course bib shorts and a short sleeve jersey. Some days I’ll look to bring out my autumnal weight long sleeve jersey and it’s generally merino socks every ride. So far this autumn I’ve only got my overshoes out once yet – but they’re more of a winter thing. Same for long fingered gloves instead of fingerless mitts – it has to be quite cold before I use long fingered gloves. As you can see, I seem to tie myself up in knots over all of these choices each ride as the seasons change.


The one thing I hate on a ride (apart from rain) is being too cold. But neither do I like being too hot as I find my average performance levels tail off a bit more if I get too hot. So right now until the temperature drops low enough for full winter riding attire, I spend my pre-ride time agonising over getting just the right mix of clothing and what I can wear that allows me to stop and adjust my temperature as I go.


It’s generally a good thing to start too cool and then manage my temperature as I warm up. Wind is another factor to consider as they get colder from now on. Windstopper fabric is wonderful stuff and I don’t have as much of it as I’d like, so the alternative is layering.


There are some people out there, who don’t seem to mind the cold and will ride in shorts and a short sleeve jersey until the temperature drops to under 5 degrees celsius. For those of you like me, who don’t like the cold but want to keep riding all year – ultimately my riding wardrobe becomes focussed around some favourite and dependable kit, but this period of 6 weeks or so is really just a transition period. It’s taking me an extra 15 minutes to get organised and get on the road – but I am still getting out there and mostly getting it right on the day.


Thanks for reading.