Ah, the good old British weather, it’s always a topic for conversation, especially if you spend your weekends on a mountain bike. Whatever the time of year, one thing you can depend upon is the changeability of the British climate. So, what cycling clothing should you be packing for that cross country ride?
The whole point of a mountain bike is to ascend then descend steep and difficult terrain, a typical 300 metre climb, according to weather experts, will see a typical reduction in the air temperature of 3 degrees centigrade. This in theory is fine because as you climb your body temperature will also rise a few degrees so in one should cancel out the other. If only!
In reality there are a multitude of things to consider before you pack your clothing. Even in the height of summer when there’s not could in the sky an early morning start in the valley as the sun is low could start off fairly chilly but as it reaches the afternoon it can become really hot. In winter the wind chill can really cutting, especially as you leave the shelter of forests or reach the open summit. Autumn and spring can bring a concoction of weather conditions with huge and sudden variations of temperature. And let’s not forget the good old dependable British rain.
There is no two ways about it; because you are burning energy you are going to get hot on a ride. So does it not make sense to dress so as to not feel the cold? There is really no right answer as to what to wear, after all we all have our individual styles, but there are simple defences you can apply cheaply. Leg warmers and arm warmers for example are great and inexpensive additions to your kit, they are very easy to carry too. A waterproof gilet can be purchased fairly cheaply, it will not only give you basic protection from light rain it can save you from a uncomfortable soaking from mud splashes thrown from your wheels after a storm. Even a basic cycling jacket can be used as an additional layer as the evening sun sets.