Layering for Springtime
By Jeff Guerrero
Winter may be the toughest season for commuters, but dressing properly for spring weather can be tricky, too. Unlike the winter months, which tend to be consistently cold, spring weather can be absolutely unpredictable. Sudden rainstorms are common, and in many parts of the world snow isn’t uncommon in the first few weeks of the season. At the same time, the return of true sunshine can bring on an early evening heat wave whereas the morning was cold and gray. Or vice versa. One thing is certain—springtime means increased riding time, so it pays to be prepared.
Think Layers, Think Thin
Just like in the fall and winter, it pays to dress in layers. Whereas in the winter the primary benefit is increased warmth due to air being trapped between garments, in the spring the goal is adaptability. The key to being able to adapt to a wide range of weather conditions is dressing in numerous thin layers. Fleece jackets are nice in the cold weather, but a pair of thin, long-sleeve shirts will provide more options. Much like in the winter, a good windproof and water-resistant jacket is indispensable, but in the spring the need for ventilation becomes a high priority. You’ll be taking your jacket on and off much more frequently, so it’s best if it’s made from a thin material that packs down small enough that it doesn’t hog up all the space in your messenger bag.
Bits and Pieces
When it comes to keeping your cycling wardrobe adaptable, there’s nothing better than arm-warmers and a lightweight vest. Having these modular garments gives you a number of options in between short sleeves, long sleeves or jacket. There are even some lightweight jackets with zip-off sleeves, however stretchy, breathable wool or polyester arm-warmers are the best.
Another piece of modular cycling apparel are knee warmers. Although slightly less popular than arm warmers, they’re a boon to cyclists who have experienced knee pain, keeping those crucial joints warm. And unlike wearing full-length tights or spandex knickers, knee warmers are a breeze to put on or take off. If you wear tall socks, you’ve essentially got a set of modular tights. If you have trouble with knee warmers slipping, stretch them over your cycling shorts.
Although the cruelest of the cold weather is gone for the year, a cold wind and a little rain can still make life miserable. Keeping a bandana or skullcap in your bag can be a big help, especially for late night rides.
Wool socks aren’t just for winter, either. They wick moisture better than cotton and resist odors, so even if you break a mean sweat on your evening commute, you should be reasonably presentable at happy hour.
Of course the best thing you can wear in the spring is a smile. Winter has passed. Enjoy the weather!