Next weekend I head of for my final race of the season in China before going to the other side of the world for our end of year ‘training’ camp in Mexico. This camp is always a good one as there is less emphasis on doing bulk km’s and more on having a break and getting all of next year’s equipment ready. We receive our new bikes and kit, however, for those of us that live on the warmer side of the equator, the numerous arm warmers, thermal knicks and jackets are not much use. Pro-cycling is very much operated on the European season so the early kit is designed for those that need to do their base km’s in the cold rain and snow, not humid 40+ degree heat. The Aussies need to make do with what summer kit we have left over from this year and save the warmer stuff for our rude intro to the European Spring next year.
With that in mind, I thought I would give my perspective on the Do’s and Don’ts of summer cycling attire. Unfortunately, these tips do not come approved by the Cycling Fashion King himself, Mario Cipollini, but I am sure he would not object.
Don’t mistake a wind-vest for a short-sleeve jersey. This may sound absurd but it is a mistake that I made in my first year on the bike. Having never seen a wind-vest before, I picked up one at the LBS summer sale thinking that it would help to keep me cool and avoid any unsightly arm tan-lines. I was wrong.
Don’t wear a visor on your helmet. You probably think that it would be a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes but then again, so is a pair of sunglasses. As well as being a road-cycling fashion no-no, a visor can also impair your vision on a road bike. The lower, more aerodynamic positioning means that you will need a swan-like neck curve in order to raise your head high enough to see under it. Leave helmet visors for MTBers and commuters that ride more upright than I walk.
Don’t be that guy with the undershirt. You know the one. The guy that is wearing an undershirt in 40+ degree heat and claims that it keeps him cooler because it wicks away sweat. It may draw 95% of sweat away from your body, but I reckon it’s probably responsible for 95% of it too. I don’t care what people say, putting on another layer of clothing does not make you cooler. When is the last time you were really hot so decided to put a singlet on under your shirt? Exactly.
Don’t wear transparent fishnet jerseys. Some companies are producing jerseys from materials that are thin and net-like, claiming that the venting will keep you cool. They don’t tell you that you will end up with sun-burn that looks like you fell onto a BBQ grill. On top of that, no one wants to see your hairy nipples.
Don’t wear a hydration back-pack. Also a road cycling fashion no-no, wearing a back-pack is going to stop any air flow that you can get through your jersey and make you sweat more than normal. Anyway, do you really need 3L of water on you? The 1.5L in your two water bottles is enough to get you to the next tap.
Do change your post-ride drink. Believe it or not, you don’t have to drink a hot coffee after your ride! *Shock. Why not have a cold-drip coffee, a smoothie with a shot of coffee, a 7-Eleven slushie with a shot of coffee or even one of those fancy ‘iced’ coffees?? Get your core body temp down, not up.
Do wear sun screen. Do I even need to say anything here? It’s Australia. Slip, Slop, Slap.
Do avoid the hottest part of the day. Ride earlier. It will be cooler and you will get to have more time at the coffee shop afterwards. Everybody wins (but mainly you).
Do carry two water bottles. If you are going to ride for over an hour, take two water bottles just in case. Unfortunately, this may mean that you need to break another separate cycling fashion rule and use a saddle bag for your spares.
Do drink an electrolyte drink. Sweat takes out more than just water. A electrolyte drink will hydrate you quicker and prevent things like cramps. It also tastes better. If you are worried about the extra calories, don't, there are plenty of sugar-free versions out there.