Having served as a Royal marine’s commando I think I've got a good understanding of dealing with whatever weather likes to throw at me.
With the royal marines being the mountain and arctic warfare specialists of the UK I have had the best education in helping use this information whilst training during the winter months in the UK.
Choosing the correct clothing can make the difference between an enjoyable or painful couple of hours in the saddle.
I remember a couple of years ago when on a training weekend with a previous sponsored team.
I rocked up in my cycle gear with a couple of layers on and my old faithful lamb’s wool jumper wrapped around my wait under my jersey as an extra warmers top in case I needed it.
Everyone else was kitted out in new fancy Gucci warm winter jackets
I remember a few looks of "who the fuck is this muppet dressed like that" as I didn’t look the fanciest but To be perfectly honest I don’t care to much on how I looks as long as I'm warm- it's training not a fashion parade.
20min into the ride and everyone else was blowing out of their arse and overheating in their thick I'm breathable jackets.
The layering system works.
Before all mountain training in the marines we would have to endure a week long bombardment of lectures from out mountain leaders, before we got to yomp (that’s marines language for hiking up huge mountains with a ridiculously oversized and overweight Bergen on your back) up in the brutal mountains.
Lectures including staying warm in the cold extreme weather- and it's something that I still apply now.
Having smaller thinner layers which allows your body to breathe and wick up the moisture is far more efficient than one all singing all dancing stupidly overpriced jacket that 9 times out of 10 will leave you overheating and reducing performance.
So what do I wear when riding during the colder months in the UK?
First priority for me is a good base layer that is close fitting that feels loke a second skin that works to wick away the mousture.
Then second layer i tend to use a normal cycle jersey that provides a extra thin layer of warmth.
Weather dependent- normally I would have a gilet to keep the warmth in.
The weather is particularly grim I would add a further layer.
Personally a thin lamb’s wool or Marino wool jumper and wear underneath my gilet or tie around my waist under my jacket as backup- which I find helps insulate by lower back as a bonus.
There is no welsh -sheep fetish with the lamb’s wool- it's because lamb’s wool provides great warmth and dries pretty quick and light.
The outer layer will be exposed to the elements so a cycle jacket but this still needs to be breathable and not mega thick.
This year I have been very fortunate to have race skin as my kit sponsor.
I have been using race skin for the last couple of months after Colin sending me some great winter training gear and got to test them out in some pretty miserable weather.
The winter bib shorts:
These have been great, they have kept me warm and dry with whatever it has thrown at me.
They have a waterproof coating which are great as they are still breathable as feel and fit great.
Race skin have provided me with Cycle jersey- gilet - and cycle jacket.
I was very impressed with all the tops. They fitted perfect and kept the elements out very well.
The only additional layer I needed was a thin base layer to wick away the moisture and every cold winter ride was very pleasant and enjoyable.
Even when the weather was particularly shite during a weekend in the welsh hills I dint require any further layers to keep me warm,
They provided me with the perfect balance.
If anyone is looking for any cycle gear I would strongly recommend you checking them out.
I have also been using their tri shorts for training and they are by far the most comfy tri short I've ever tried.
Getting the balance too much and too little padding spot on and they look great to boost.
Race skin are currently designing my race kit for this year and I can't wait to see with what they come up with.
Raceskin are able to provide a wide range of custom gear for individuals and clubs, check out their website for more information and design examples.