It's that time of year again. That awkward bit when you might be riding through all the seasons in one day. Daylight hours are getting shorter, mornings can be chilly, afternoons can be warm and humid. It might rain, it might not.
It can feel impossible to prepare for a day in the saddle right now but with a few adjustments you can ride right through this season and beyond. We asked our Wiggle cyclists for their top tips
Transform your kit
Cycling Apparel Marketing Manager Rob is a pro at layering up and sometimes gets made fun of because he suffers so much in the cold (sorry Rob). However, when cycling legend Fabian Cancellara came to ride with us he found himself in good company – we counted eight layers!
'I’ve developed lots of tricks to getting through the season,' Rob told us. 'Lightweight packable accessories can be taken off and stored in a jersey pocket or put on as conditions dictate.'
Clever accessorizing can also stretch your summer kit further into the cooler months. Here's how.
Start with a base layer
We love base layers year-round. In the summer, they wick away sweat keeping us comfortable on long rides. In the winter, they trap in heat. At this time of year, Brand Content Executive Nassrin loves the dhb Women's Merino Short Sleeve Base Layer (M_200). 'The moisture-wicking merino keeps the chill off on descents. If it gets warmer through the day, it feels super-breathable. I'm going to be adding the polka dot version to my collection this year – it will look great under a plain jersey.'
Grab a gilet
A jacket might feel like too much right now, but you still need something to keep the wind and rain out. A gilet will give you extra protection from the elements and can easily slip into a jersey pocket if it warms up later in the day. Cycling Apparel Marketing Manager Kirsty won't go anywhere without her dhb Aeron Womens Lightweight Gilet. 'It keeps my core warm, which in turn means I’m less likely to get cold overall… On some rides I must put this gilet on and off half a dozen times, whether for descents, showers, or a particularly windy stretch, but it's so light, it’s no problem to carry it.'
Add some sleeves
Keep wearing your favourite summer jersey into autumn by adding some arm-warmers. They'll keep the morning chill off and can neatly fold up to stash in a pocket later on. Look out for technical fabrics to keep you comfortable in changeable conditions. 'I love my GripGrab AquaRepel Arm Warmers right now,' says Nassrin. 'It's pretty cold when I set off for work at 06:30 and the soft brushed interior is just the right level of warmth whilst still being breathable.'
Rob swears by the Castelli Nanoflex+ Arm Warmers. Like the GripGrab Aquarepel, they have a water-repellant coating and offer a little more warmth whilst remaining breathable and fairly light-weight.
Cover those knees
If you're setting out in the cold in shorts, you might find that joints and muscles that haven't properly warmed up can feel painful. A pair of leg or knee warmers can help. The Sportful No-Rain Knee Warmers have been specifically designed to see you through autumn and spring days. They're the perfect weight to take the edge off without being too warm and the Nanotech finish sheds water before it can soak in.
Don't forget those fingers
If you've been caught out with the wrong gloves, you'll know just how painful cold fingers can be. Thankfully, you don't need to sacrifice the dexterity you've enjoyed in your fingerless mitts all summer – the latest lightweight gloves keep fingers cosy but don't mean losing the feeling of control. Merchandiser Trevor wears the Castelli Lightness Gloves for chilly starts. The stretch cuff closure traps warmth and the synthetic leather palm has a print for extra grip on brakes and gears.
If you need an autumn glove with extra visibility, the GripGrab Ride Windproof Hi-Vis Gloves are a great choice. If the eye-watering hi-vis yellow doesn't get you noticed, the retro-reflective print should catch the eye of fellow road-users. The touchscreen-enabled thumb allows you to use your mobile or gps without taking your gloves off and loosing heat.
Stop that tingle in your toes
Defend your feet against cold drafts. Blocking any ventilation holes on the sole with gaffer tape is a cheap, low-tech solution that will make a world of difference.
It might be tempting to layer up on socks, but remember that too many layers will restrict circulation and make matters worse. A good quality pair of merino socks like The Wonderful Socks The Line #1 Merino Socks should be enough. As the temperature drops shoe covers like the DeFeet Slipstream Strada Overshoes will keep the chills at bay and help to keep your shoes clean.
Don't let heat escape from your head
We lose 7-10 % of our body heat through our heads. Covering up will make a big difference. All those ventilation holes and channels in your helmet do a great job in the summer but are a little inconvenient when air-con is the last thing you need.
If you're feeling flush, you might want to consider a less ventilated aero style.
A much cheaper option is a stylish cycling cap to keep the draft out. Business Analyst Ben adds a bit of colour to dull mornings with the Cinelli West Coast Cap – 'Peak up with the sunnies on, peak down when the rain starts.'
Be ready for rain
Chance of rain? No problem. The latest lightweight capes pack down so neatly that there's no reason not to have one handy. The dhb Aeron Packable Jacket comes in a dazzling hi-viz yellow or black and has mesh side panels for breathability.
Software Engineer Kevin loves the Gore Shakedry jacket. 'At this time of year I’ll always throw this in my back pocket. It’s by far the best rain jacket I’ve ever used, and it also doubles up as an extra layer if it gets chilly.' Rob seconds this: 'I never leave home without it due to its breathability, packability, and wind and rain-stopping super powers!'
See through the murk
One of the joys of this time of year is the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. On those days that the sky clears, the low sun can be dazzling but even when it clouds over it's a good idea to wear eye protection. Wind and rain mean extra debis on the roads that can get flicked up and can disguise potholes and other hazards. The Oakley Prism lens not only protects your eyes from the sun but also helps to improve contrast so that you can assess the surface of the road more easily as you zip along.
And if it's really getting cold….
More than just a long-sleeve
Once you can no longer get away with a jersey and arm-warmers, look for a long-sleeve jersey with benefits. The Castelli Perfetto is a common sight on the roads around Wiggle HQ for good reason. 'It’s an amazing jersey for the cross over weather. It's windproof, okay with rain and still breathable,' says John.
Andrew Meek recommends the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Top . ' The versatility is fantastic: light and breathable with great protection from the elements. I’ve used it for a year or two, even for the warm-up in it before races. It’s brilliant.'
Pull on some tights
Leg warmers will only get you so far. The good news is that latest fabric technologies available for jerseys can also be applied to tights.
Rob says 'if it's going to be cold all day I’ll reach for the Castelli LW Bib Tights. There's a little thermal protection on the thighs, and thin, lightweight cover on the lower leg. As near to perfect as you could wish.'
Enjoy the ride
Getting out on the bike is a great way to enjoy this beautiful time of year. Check the weather forecast, get your kit right and you can really make the most of it. Happy cycling!