At the time of writing, the kids have just gone back to school and after what seemed like six weeks of eternal glum and drizzle, an area of high pressure is currently bang on top of the UK, giving us some glorious sunshine that we have all been craving. For us, it’s meant more bike rides and less kit to wash. Ideal! Sadly, all good things must come to an end and with the season of autumn officially starting on the 23rd September, we thought perhaps it’s time to recheck our essential kit so we’re once again ready to embrace the more challenging conditions. Here are our top eight bits of cycling kit to keep you comfortable in Autumn.
Keeping your body’s temperature stable is pivotal to performing well. Wearing too many layers, or wearing overly insulated clothing can lead to heat exhaustion. During autumn, it’s easy to get it wrong as the weather can typically be on the ‘nippy’ side in the morning but two hours into your ride, the sun can be out and before you know it, you’re cooking. Wearing even a thin windproof gilet will keep your chest from being blasted with cold air and can easily be unzipped or packed once things start warming up.
Although Arm warmers are more commonly used for the cooler summer days, they still have their place in our essentials autumn kit list as they can just be removed but still worn if there is a break in the cloud. From experience, arm warmers are a better choice for riders who are planning on doing efforts or hard climbs where the body’s temperature is likely to fluctuate more than a steady café ride. Our pick is the Castelli Nanoflex as it provides a good level of water repellence in case the heavens do momentarily open. Just remember, for more persistent rain, these will eventually soak through
Cycling caps prove ideal for this season, offering two key advantages. To start with, they provide essential warmth. Given that a significant amount of heat escapes through your head, even though caps are typically crafted from cotton, they are a better alternative than going bareheaded. While we haven’t reached the chilly temperatures warranting fleece beanies just yet, a cap will serve as a suitable option until then. Furthermore, even the most basic cotton cap or ‘casquette’ will shield your eyes from foul weather, making life far more comfortable.
Although not actually essential, having a thin set of gloves on for the first hour of your ride will make a big difference to your comfort. Don’t be tempted to break out the winter gloves just yet: you’d be amazed how quickly a set of winter gloves affects your overall body temperature when pressing on.
At this stage, I’m not sure what’s more important, keeping your feet warm or keeping your cycling shoes in good condition. Thankfully, you don’t need to have to make the choice. Get yourself some nice cotton over socks which will keep your shoes mostly clean and your feet warm. If the roads are already very wet, then white cotton over socks are not going to be the best choice. For this we recommend Spatz overshoes.
Although good quality bib tights offer immediate warmth, if the weather unexpectedly warms up a few hours into your ride, you’re going to end up overheating. This is where leg warmers or knee warmers come into play, enabling you to adjust to these fluctuating conditions. Their convenient on-and-off capability and compact size when stowed away make them an essential addition for any road cyclist. You won’t go wrong with a pair from le Col!
Packable rain cape
Investing in a good quality packable rain cape is a must. Weather you’re dodging the rain in the UK, or riding in the mountains of Mallorca, getting soaked through to the skin miles from home is not something you want to happen. There are lots of options on the market with varying degrees of size when compacted, ability to repel water and breathability. For long periods of time in the rain, a packable jacket isn’t really going to suffice as you’re likely to lose out on breathability, likewise, having a jacket that can keep you dry all day is going to take up more room in those back pockets than you might like. I have always found the packable Castelli jackets to do just the trick.
Although not clothing, making yourself more visible is never a bad thing. The nights are drawing in so you’re going to be less visible in the shadows. A good quality daylight running light such as the Bontrager flare RT is a brilliant low-cost investment.