by Vanessa McCracken
Discount offer from Sunnyside Bicycles at the end of this post!
It’s fall, and you know what that means: pretty much overnight, we go from complaining about the relentless Central Valley summer heat to complaining that we’re cold. This is especially true if you’re out riding bikes! One day, you’re wondering if this is the year that 100-degree days just stick around forever, the next, you’re shivering and complaining to your riding partners that you’re freezing. I am not making this up. It happened last weekend.
“Freezing” or not, fall is an amazing time to get out and ride. The skies are a brighter blue, the trees are starting to change colors, and the air is a little fresher—these days were made for bike rides! I love riding out by Pine Flat Lake and seeing the scenery change moods every season. I also love riding out on Reed Avenue, in addition to around Annadale and Frankwood, to take in the beautiful fall foliage on display around there. Another favorite way to take in Mother Nature in full fall splendor is riding around Yosemite Valley. Just a short drive away, the views you’ll experience are what some people around the globe can only dream of seeing in person. Bonus: It’s not as crowded in Yosemite in the fall. Go during the week for even more solitude!
But back to the freezing thing. One of my favorite sayings is, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” Of course, it could be strongly argued that those of us lucky enough to live in the beautiful Central Valley don’t really know bad weather. I’ll concede to that. Plenty of people put their bikes away come fall because it’s too cold to ride. I want to share some of my favorite tips and cool-weather gear that keeps me warm and comfortable on even the coldest rides.
My first tip is to dress in layers. I know this is a “duh” tip, but I have witnessed enough people not do this that it warrants mentioning. Just because you’re freezing at the start of the ride does not mean that you won’t be dripping sweat and peeling off layers five miles into it—Again, true story. Last weekend. You’ll be thankful that you wore lightweight, packable layers instead of a big bulky jacket or sweatshirt that’s difficult to stow away and carry for the rest of the ride. My cycling jacket is thin so that I can roll it up and stuff it in my jersey pocket for the rest of my ride when needed. The sleeves on it also come off so that I can wear it as a vest if I want to keep the cold air from piercing through my jersey, but I am too warm for the full thing. I’ve witnessed too many people ride with regular jackets, only to have to awkwardly tie them around their waists or carry them in a big bulky backpack when it gets too warm to keep them on. Lightweight and packable (and convertible, IMHO) is the way to go!
A second piece to my layering is thermal-lined arm warmers. Again, these are thin and easy to roll up and pack away in your jersey pocket if you get too warm to leave them on midway through the ride. They are thin, but extremely cozy and effective thanks to their thermal lining. I keep a pair rolled up in my gear bag year round, because you just never know, and it is always such a relief to have them ready to go when you find yourself needing them! I’ve also been known to throw them on mid-way through a Harley ride. Hey, function over fashion when you’re cold!
When temps go from cool to cold, the first parts of me to make me miserable are my ears, hands, and toes. A thermal headband, long-fingered thermal lined cycling gloves, wool socks, and toe covers for my shoes remedy this problem and save everyone riding with me from having to listen to me whine for miles on end. The thermal headband is cycling-specific and designed to cover your ears and still fit underneath a helmet. Likewise, my winter cycling gloves are warm but still thin enough to allow me to maintain control of my bike and be able to shift and brake safely. The toe covers, too, are designed specifically to slip right over the front of my cycling shoes in order to stop the cold air from piercing through my shoes. When temperatures drop really low, I’ll switch from toe covers to full booties that slip over and add even more warmth.
As temperatures continue to fall, I might throw some leg warmers on, in addition to a base layer designed for cool weather. The pieces I’ve mentioned, though, are pretty much my fall riding essentials. A small investment in a few key pieces, that will last you seasons and seasons, will allow you to stay comfortable and on your bike all fall and winter long. All of us at Sunnyside Bicycles ride year-round, and each of us have our own tips for staying comfortable in the cooler temps. Let us help you stay comfortable out there!
Come in and take $20 off any $75 purchase when you mention this article as our way of helping you gear up to ride year round!
Sunnyside Bicycles is located at 6105 E. Kings Canyon Road (at Fowler, one mile west of 180 and Temperance next to GB3) in Fresno and is now open 7 days a week! Hours are Monday through Friday from 10-7, Saturday from 9-5 and Sunday from 12-5. Check out our ride calendar and join the fun!
Watch for Sunnyside Bicycles column every month here at KRL! And learn more on their website.