Fall and winter around most of the country means cycling becomes an indoor activity with hours of mind numbing time on the trainer, but not in Arizona. Fall and winter bring the welcome relief of oven hot temperatures and getting in rides sometimes before the sun is up.
The flip side is deciding how to dress for these cool temperatures as they creep in, or more accurately show up one day like someone slipped a switch from too hot to too cold.
People often turn to long sleeve jerseys and long tights to combat the cold but is that the right move? Cycling int he cold like any winter sport is about one thing, layering.
Morning rides can start around 50' and end closer to 90 so you don't want to be prepared for just one condition. To layer properly it is best to start with a base layer shirt, something that is both breathable and will wick away moisture from the skin. A standard short sleeve jersey on top of that along with arm warmers are usually all that is needed. Having arm warmers allows you the ability to pull them down or put them back on depending on the conditions. If it is really cold, a wind stopping vest is perfect to keep the core warm and also easy to peel off and layer down.
On the bottom standard shorts or bibs paired with knee or full leg warmers are essential. The tendons in the knee are only inches under the skin so keeping them warm is very important when cycling. Anything below 55 or 60 degrees, depending on who you ask, is ideal for knee warmers. They are also easy to put on and stop to take off as things heat up. Longer socks also help keep the chill off the ankles. On really cold days toe warmers or booties are always a good option.
Everyone knows that the most heat is lost from the body through the head so when cycling it is good to wear a light weight cap under the helmet or at minimum something like a bandanna to keep some heat in, but not get you overheated.
Long finger gloves will keep your hands from going numb and causing any issues, but be sure to have the right thickness so you can still feel the brakes, shift and not get over heated.
If you layer, you will be well equipped to go out and enjoy the best time of year to ride in the desert, and you just might get to see a little snow along the way.