The Spoke Easy
Warm Days, Cold Nights
The Craft of the Spring Layer
I will not delve too deep into how to layer or what layers do as that has been well outlined here. Although, the this article was written in winter with cold in mind, the principles hold up in spring as well.
We have reached that special time of year where it’s pleasant to have a patio lunch-beer midday in a tee shirt, but as soon as the sun drops, temps slip all the way back to near freezing. If you don’t plan well (as I often haven’t), you are stuck commuting home after work with your fingers frozen, clutching your handlebars with cold air penetrating your shirt and wrapping around your torso. What I have found is that if I keep a few go-to products packed in my bag I am ready for those fickle spring nights.
During this transitional time my Chrome roll top is my vessel of choice to haul my happy layers.
It may not be as accessible on the fly as a cross-strap messenger style bag but for those A to B trips in the wet it hatches down like a submarine. I also find it a bit more comfortable when loaded down.
When I pack, I generally try to be mindful of what I will use last and pack that towards the bottom.
My first go-to is a rain jacket. Obviously, it will serve it’s purpose in the rain but even if wet weather is not in the forecast it makes a great windproof layer. It will also give you a bit of insulation in a pinch, weighs almost nothing, and packs down small enough there is almost no penalty for keeping one stowed away.
The next little gem that lives down near my rain jacket are my Defeet DuraGloves. Although not truly windproof on their own, layer ‘em up with a pair of mechanix gloves and they will get you pretty darn close. Like all wool they keep on keeping on in the wet and make for a comfy glove on their own for those in between temps. A nice bonus feature is that the thumb and index fingers are tipped with smart phone fibers.
Next to the jacket and gloves I keep a rolled up base layer. If I don’t have a particularly long ride on the radar I will often wear cotton around town. If I sweat through a t-shirt or if the weather fouls up this layer is my bailout. Not much is worse than cold, wet cotton next to your skin. Depending on the temps I’ll either stow a poly-pro or wool blend layer in the bag.
Knee warmers are one of my favorite things to have with me for days that start out in shorts. I’ve had a pair of Defeet Kneekers for several years now. You can pull them up a bit higher to just cover your knees or stretch them down over your calf for a little more protection. The only drawback is they won’t stay up for long without wearing them tucked under a chamois.
A neck layer. I usually stash a KMC brand buff that goes around my neck but pretty much anything that you can wrap around your neck when the chill comes out goes a long way. Having something that can go up over your ears is really nice when winter decides to make an unexpected comeback.
Depending on what kind of ride I have in store I will often swap out the clipless pedals for a pair of flats. When rolling around on the platform pedals my Five Ten Freeriders are my kicks of choice. Comfy on and off the bike, the stealth rubber hooks up to pedals just about as well as anything you can clip into. These really shine when the weather is dicey, a little more wind and splash proof than most clipless shoes. If you get them with a little bit of toe room they will breath well with a pair of cycling socks but also take a thicker pair of wool socks just fine too.
All of these Items that work for me are available at the Spoke Easy. More importantly, we are a team of bike nerds, happy to have a conversation and find the right spring commuter combo for you.