Dressing the part for autumn cycling

Getting dressed for two wheel travel this fall

To get ready for autumn riding, as I’ve said before, you have to spend a few dollars. But you have to think of it this way: compared to a monthly TTC pass, which goes for $121, it’s a one time investment that will save money and resources in the long run.

You could probably get away without buying anything new to ride through fall. But a few well chosen purchases can make the difference between a wet and miserable commute and a pleasant ride through the city.

Depending on how far you ride and changing facilities you may decide to wear dedicated cycling clothes, this article is more about adapting your regular outfit to deal with the elements.

Head: Choose a lightweight toque that will fit under a helmet and cover your ears. In wet weather a peaked cap will keep water off your face. Waterproof helmet covers are also available. When it gets really cold consider taping plastic wrap over your helmet vents to keep the cold air out. A fleecy neck gaitor keeps your neck warm and can be pulled up to protect your face when winter comes.

Body: It’s best to layer. A lightweight fleece between your regular clothes and windproof shell should keep you warm down to about -10 c . On the outside wear a windproof/waterproof shell. Cycling specific waterproof and breathable jackets can cost up to $300. The most expensive is not necessarily best, but a quality jacket should last much longer. I’m still wearing a jacket that was bought in 1999 and keeps me as dry as the day I bought it. Cycling specific jackets are designed to fit the body’s shape when cycling, with longer arms and back which prevent skin being exposed when you’re bent over the handlebars. They should also include reflective strips. Some people like brightly coloured safety vests. They undoubtably make you more visible, but oh so ugly.

Legs: It rains surprisingly rarely, but after one day at work wearing soaking wet jeans, you’ll want to get some waterpoof pants. They also great for those slushy winter days. Make sure the fit is loose enough to allow you to lift your leg over the saddle and the hem has a zipper so they can be pulled on over shoes. Breathable is best but you shouldn’t have to wear them that often so it’s less critical than with a jacket.

Feet: If you ride in regular footwear, consider getting some shoe covers. There are a couple of styles – unless you wear cycling shoes avoid the narrow cut neoprene covers, instead choose this style which will fit over running shoes or boots.

Hands: If you’re looking for a new pair of gloves, something like this is good – thin enough that you can feel your brake levers, with longer cuffs and grips on the palms. They won’t be warm enough for winter but should be fine to around freezing.

Read part one of the autumn riding guide here.

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