Cycling in the Goldilocks Zone…briefly

Quality Roads

It’s a Sunday, in late April, and the sun is streaming through the window from a cloudless sky.

But I’m a cyclist from the north of England and I know better than to trust it.

I pull on a base-layer, bib-shorts, a long sleeved jersey, some knee warmers, a gilet, fingerless gloves, and a pair of warm woolly socks. I sink my fourth cup of coffee, add a helmet and shades, and head out with fingers crossed.

Within three minutes I’m warm.

The townscape is deflecting the wind and the sun is full of heat. I’m considering peeling off layers, until I turn a right angle and feel the force of the wind. It’s carrying the dregs of winter and finding gaps in my clothes.

I pull my zip, and hunch my shoulders, and get slowly cold.

For three hours I’m chilled by the cold, then warmed by the sun, alternately, not daring to remove a layer, and not carrying an extra one. Never in the temperate zone of cycling comfort, but one standard deviation either side of it.

Except for a glorious ten minutes, mid-ride, where the wind and sun find a sweet spot. I’m pedalling, briefly happy, like a lizard recharging on a hot rock.

It hits around thirteen degrees Celsius, at best. In the cycling havens of Spain or France this would be the accepted bare minimum. Here in northern Lancashire, in April, it’s the Holy Grail.

To dress for cycling in these parts is a task that Sisyphus would have given up as a lost cause.

The ‘Goldilocks Zone’ – not too hot, not too cold, but just right – can be elusive. The best you can hope for is a compromise which is more positive than negative.

I’d settle for 51/49 in my favour.

Failing that, I might move to Girona.

(Image: pixabay.com)


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6 comments

  1. There is definitely an art to choosing the right kit for a ride. I’m improving with age but I sometimes spend minutes standing in front of my kit drawer debating with myself, while the Mrs is thinking “this time he’s really lost it”.

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  2. Snap! I was in the Peak District at the weekend. Thermal bibs and base layer, mid-weight long sleeve Roubaix jersey, thick winter socks, heavily insulated gloves.

    Hot on the climbs, jersey unzipped briefly before brrr, cold atop the moor, all the way to shivering on the fast descents. Still, at least it was dry! Stunning scenery always helps too.

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  3. I’m running rather than cycling at the moment, but that isn’t without it’s share of wardrobe quandaries. Glasgow in mid-March is 1 degree Celsius one day, 20 the next. I found the best compromise (though not a good one) was a windproof jacket and beanie hat, shorts and no gloves. I have noticed it is quicker dressing for a run than a bike ride, although both outfits are sartorially suspect.

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  4. Here in the Pyrenees winters seem to be getting milder and milder. This last the max I needed was tights, a long-sleeved base layer and a Sportful or Castelli jacket. At the moment it’s around 18°C, though recently it was 23°C. It’s lightbaseware and shortsleeve Perfetto time! However, the next two days are rain and max 12°C ; at least they’ve recently resurfaced local roads with winter coating so rain riding isn’t too iffy.

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