As we cycle out of the cold clutches of the Winter, we enter into what I think is the best season of all – Spring. It’s a season that promises a lot; warmer days, vivid colours and the chance to start testing your legs competitively.
However I’ve always found the transition into Spring the hardest part of the year to get right when choosing what to wear on the bike. The days can really fluctuate in temperature, March is supposed to be windy and April is known for it’s showers. The key to it is to have flexibility in your cycling wardrobe, and use thin layers enabling you to adapt as your ride develops. Adding a layer if the day gets cold or there’s rain, taking a layer off if the temperature rises.
So what are the ideal garments for your wardrobe? I’ll run through what I believe is a good range of clothing for Spring. And remember, some of these items work well in Summer and Winter, so are pretty much essential!
It goes without saying that this is a key item. It’s perfect for the days when it’s raining, cold or windy. Or a combination of all three! And as a lot of people will be starting racing, it’s the perfect item for competition. Especially as you can have it printed in your club or team colours. If you’re thinking of a Mossa for this time of year then I’d recommend the short sleeve version, teamed up with arm warmers. This gives the flexibility if the day hots up, to get a cooling effect from your bare arms.
Gilet’s are such a versatile piece of kit. You can use one all year round. They add a layer of protection in the winter, keeping the cold air off your chest, and if you choose wisely, they roll up very small, so can be carried in rear pockets. This is the time of year when there is a big difference in morning and lunchtime temperatures, so wearing one first thing on your ride is a wise choice. It can easily be taken off. And visa versa. A gilet is also ideal even for the summer – especially if you’re heading to the mountains of Europe. It can get cold on the top of a Col, so the wind protection they offer on the descent when you’re drenched in sweat is valuable. The last thing you want on your dream trip is to come down with a chest infection.
The Parentini K-Dry gilet offers all the above benefits – it’s wind resistant and waterproof with excellent breathability – and comes in a very visible flouro.
For me, a gilet should be a staple of any riders wardrobe.
Whichever genius decided to make bibshorts with the Roubaix material normally reserved for tights should be knighted. The added warmth of the Roubaix material means you can now have added flexibility of pairing the shorts with leg or knee warmers. And again, these items can be peeled off if the day warms up.
Parentini have two thermal bibshorts – the P.1000 features Thermo Roubaix, the Shark is made with Super Roubaix, a slightly warmer material. For me, the P.1000 is ideal for the transition into Spring. However both fit perfectly, thanks to Parentini’s anatomic cut, and their excellent designed and manufactured inserts .
Base layers are another essential item. It’s always good to have a variety of weights and sleeves lengths. Long sleeves still have their place in the lead up to Spring on colder days and short sleeves will give you flexibility, meaning you can use arm warmers if it looks like the temperature’s going to rise.
The most important thing is what material the base layer is made from. Up until becoming a member of the Parentini Test Team, I don’t realise there was a difference in the man-made base layers. Turns out there is. The vast majority of synthetic base layers are made from Polyester. Parentini’s are made from Polypropelene. This material is far superior at transporting the sweat from your body and through to your outer layer. The key to this process working is to make sure the base layer fits like a second skin. It’s for this reason that Parentini add some elastene. They also add carbon to the material mix – this helps address Polypropelene’s only drawback. It is notorious at holding onto odours. However rest assured that the carbon works – no one has commented about me smelling after a ride!
Arm, leg and knee warmers are a great addition for this time of year. They add warmth but also flexibility. These essential items usually come in two different weights – a thin lycra version and a warmer ‘roubaix’ type. Getting the right size is key though – you don’t want them too small so that they end up not covering your arms or legs properly, but get them too big and they will not grip well and constantly drop down, ensuring you get distracted and annoyed on your ride. Parentini’s leg warmers are anatomically cut. They may look strange when held up, but that kink in the shape, coupled with the stretch material, results in a perfect fitting and comfortable leg warmer.
I find if the weathers too warm for bibtights, then it’s warm enough for knee warmers. Nothing looks more pro to me than a rider wearing knee warmers, sporting shaved and slightly tanned calves and finished off with ‘oversocks’.
Gloves are a tricky part of dressing in Spring. It depends on how cold your hands get. I know riders who can ride through winter without gloves completely. I also know riders who suffer with Raynauds and struggle to keep their fingers from going white. So a nice Spring day could see you wearing track mitts, however I find a pair of thin, stretchy roubaix gloves are a good choice. Just warm enough to keep the Spring morning chill from your fingers, but thin enough to race in and change gear effectively. Again these are a very flexible bit of kit. My Parentini ones are thin enough to wear under outer shell gloves, to really keep you toasty in the depths of winter.
Just like hands, your feet can suffer in the Spring. Early morning cold, or even driving rain can occur in these months. I tend to stop wearing the thick overshoes, and opt for a thin ‘oversock’. These can keep a bit of chill at bay, but I tend to wear them more to keep my shoes clean from road spray etc! The secret is what you wear under the shoe. In the past I would wear a merino wool sock, even in Spring, but lately I’ve been wearing Parentini’s Thermal Windtex sock. They look a bit strange at first – hard and plasticky. However put them on and you will find their soft fleece inner is snug – coupled with the Windtex membrane, they are perfect at keeping your feet warm. The membrane does a great job at keeping the windchill off, and also keeping your feet dry in the rain – and the fact that this performance comes in a thin material means you won’t end up with numb feet from your shoes pinching with extra bulky material.
Another essential item that works all year round. The humble ‘biretta’ is simple and effective and every cyclist should have a few in their wardrobe – colour co-ordinated with the rest of their cycling outfits.
They are thin enough to wear under a helmet , which means you can get full protection benefits. The cap can keep you warm in winter and protect you from UV rays in summer. The cap also absorbs sweat, saving you from it’s stinging effect to the eyes. Plus the peak stops the rain from hitting your eyes and glasses.
You shouldn’t leave home without one.