6 Essential Pieces of Kit for Early Autumn Cycling in the UK


07.10.16 at 3:46 pm

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Over the last fortnight I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that Autumn’s arrived. The wind’s got up, the temperature’s dropped and the sunshine quickly gets hidden behind the clouds.

The transition from Summer is tough. You see Summer’s easy. Bib shorts, jersey and hit the road. Autumn cycling is only predictable by its unpredictability. Leave the house in sunshine and return in the rain.

I say early Autumn as I am talking about the transitional period. The end of Autumn needs a kit change again into harder wearing rain jackets, overshoes, thick gloves and the like. Early autumn is still clinging on to a bit of summer so it makes it even more difficult to get the right kit.

What you’re looking for in this part of the year is flexibility. Kit that can be layered up and taken off through the changeable weather. The can keep the worst of the wind off without letting you overheat.

So without further ado, here’s the 6 bits of cycling gear I’ve found myself during off over the last few weeks….

1. Full Back Gloves

In the summer I ride in gloves with as much ventilation as possible to keep my hands cool (and for the awesome tan lines). My favourite at the moment are the Lizards Skin SAL 1.0

The challenge is these are a bit nippy for early Autumn but I’m not moving on to full fingers gloves just yet. Step in my Endura Aerogel mitts. These are a bit thicker and have no ventilation on the back so are much better for when the weather decides to turn.

Having this much kit is a luxury and I could survive with one or the other. In fact I did for years! As a beginner you’ll start off with one of everything and just add to it! When I found the Endura gloves (my first pair) a bit warm I bought something different. Now I have both and bring them out at different times of the year.

2. Arm Warmers

You’ll find arm warmers on every one of these Autumn cycling kit round up style posts. Why? They’re just so useful. Roll up your short sleeve jersey, put these on and roll your sleeve back down over the top and suddenly you have a brand new element to your jersey.

At this time of year I will stuff them in a back pocket even if it feels warm enough to head out. It’s amazing how quickly the wind can change or the sun can disappear and you regret it. Equally, if you set out early in the morning and it gradually warms up they are easy to take off and store in your jersey pocket.

It saves having to invest in long sleeve jerseys and gives you so much more flexibility out on a ride. There are loads on the market and everyone will have a personal preference. I like the Mid Zero by Sugoi as the fleece liner keeps the wind out really nicely. I did have to cut out the annoying labels on the inside to add some comfort though!

3. Base Layer

My next key bit of kit for early Autumn cycling is a decent base layer. This will help to keep your torso warm and also prevent any cold weather relate
d chafage (we’ve all been there). I normally wear mine under my bib short straps to stop the rubbing. With this bit of kit you need to make the call early. When you’re out and it’s on you’re going to find it more difficult to take off than something simple like arm warmers.
For me, the 12 degree C mark is when I put on a base layer, though I also tend to use one if the wind is up. Use your weather apps, or even simpler, step out the door in the morning and see how it feels. Remember you’ll warm up a lot on the bike but with a bit of experience you’ll know they days you need to throw one on.
My favourites are by Under Armour, though the cheap Craft ones from Aldi are pretty decent too. I am also currently experimenting with a bamboo t from GRN sportswear who are an ethical sportswear company. A bit more expensive but I like their values and don’t mind paying a bit more to a decent company like this.

4. Shower Coat

Next up is a basic shower coat; not a big Gore Tex, just  something that’ll get you out of trouble if the weather turns.

These are generally very light and easy to shove in a back pocket. They’ll keep you a bit drier in an emergency and also fend off the worst of the wind if it starts to get chilly. They are generally classed as ‘wind breaker’ jackets for keeping you warm but a lot have some water resistant treatment to keep you dry for a while.
They do a great job in the wind, a half decent job in the rain and often pack down to a size not much bigger than an orange. For me, a really useful bit of kit to have ready to go. Unfortunately my favourite by Sugoi is no longer in production but you can find a great round up on the Road.cc page here.

5. Cap

Cycling caps are perfect for this time of year.

Firstly they add a bit of much needed warmth. A fair bit of heat escapes through your head (though not as much as I thought. I found this article quite interesting) and whilst caps are generally made of cotton they are better than wearing nothing at all. We’re not quite at fleece beanie temperatures yet, so until then a cap will suffice.
Secondly, the sun has started to get much lower in the sky now, so you’ll find glare becoming a real problem at certain times of the day. Sunglasses do part of the job (though ironically they may be too dark to see everything else) but the peak of a cycling cap is the perfect way to keep the sun at bay. As with most of the kit in this article, caps pack down nice and small so are ideal for shoving in your back pocket when you’re not wearing them. They’re also probably the cheapest purchase in this post. You can find a great range here.

6. Lights

From now until Spring I will always have a set of lights on my bike. The challenge with Autumn cycling is the light can change so quickly. And I’m not just talking about the sunset. All it takes is a stiff breeze to bring in some dark cloud and before you know it you’re surrounded by gloom. It can also be really hard to pick out a cyclist in the early evening when the sun has dropped low in the sky. A set of lights are certainly not going to overpower the sun, but they help, especially if they’re flashing.
There are loads out there but I tend to strap a small one to the back of my helmet and then have a full set for the front and back. I like the Lezyne strip lights as they sit well on the saddle post with a Micro Drive on the front which has more than enough power for both cycling in the dark and making myself seen in the glare.
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