The weather in Scotland is like living next to a wild but well meaning neighbour. Occasionally they're good fun and they mean you no real harm, but there are times where you need to hide in the house and ignore the banging at the door, on the window, or shouting down the chimney. And considering this is now September and officially Autumn', there has been a lot of banging at the door and shouting down the chimney. None the less I find myself in a typical British quandary over what to wear. Despite it being very mild in temperature up here, no-one in their right mind would go out without a coat, or some form of outerwear. If you cycle, this of course means that it's both too warm to wear a coat, but not dry enough to leave without one which leads me onto the first point of this post. What to wear.
The second one is I read an article last year in a broad sheet Sunday news paper that listed 10 essential items for commuting on the bike. Not only was there a whole bunch of electronics listed but there was also a crap load of technical gear - and besides the bike, nothing there was essential. Don't get me wrong. There are longer commutes, I know folk that regularly do 15 - 20 miles out and then the same back, and yes, I doubt anyone could do that comfortably in jeans. Those kind of folks are usually hard core gnarled saddle wankers who don't know that heals were originally worn by men for stirrups, and have long forgotten how to wear underwear. But for the not so serious, for folk like myself, who neither want to wait or pay for a bus to take us 15 minutes down the road, and generally too lazy to walk the mile to the post office... What do we need to consider, and what do we actually need?
|Now you're ready!|
1. A Mac. Rain, whilst not the worst thing on the bike, can be uncomfortable, A damp set of jeans or trousers can be chaffing. Wearing a mac won't stop you getting wet in random places but it will negate sticky dampness in the most particular of places.
|Bring the Rain!|
I think this one was £20 out of Millets (or somewhere like that) two years ago, and is technically a Jack in a Pack. I lost my previous one on a bus to T in the Park and we ended up getting this one at New Year whilst in Edinburgh. A word of warning - make sure you are buying ones that say 'waterproof.' There are a lot of cheaper nylon weave versions that aren't waterproof that look like they should be but aren't. They even come with hoods though what for I'm not sure.... *shakes head disparagingly*.
|*Jazz Hands to Self*|
Being cold on the bike is far worse I find. Numb chilled hands are dangerous, they can over compensate on the breaks, over or under click on gears and just be plain painful. The rain with just a slight wind can chill your hands, on a cool summers evenings your hands can be surprisingly painful. And yes, the weather proof ones are nice, but if you don't want or have the £30 quid to spend - or like me you're always loosing them - plain woolly ones are fine. You can double them up if you buy a couple of pairs for when it's particularly chilly, they're light enough to make you comfortable during the cooler summer evenings, they're easily replaceable, and if you get into habit of having them with you at all times, you'll be the envy of all at Scone Rewind when it starts hail stoning in July. Mine are from Primark, I buy about 6 packs of two for a pound when they show up in the shops. I put them everywhere.
3. Scarfs are particularly handy.
|I'm invisible, but naked, except for the scarf.|
Do not use a woolly scarf. The scarf has to be thin enough to wear under your helmet and wrap around your neck without being constrictive to head movement, and to fold down into nothing, but also long enough to be useful. I'd think you'd be stretching the usefulness of a buff so I wouldn't recommend those. Even if you're a bloke, consider venturing into the ladies accessories bit of any of the bigger department stores and asking if they've got any large light wraps or jersey material scarves in plain colours (or bright ones if that's what you like). The kind of material you want is the same kind that t-shirts are made of. And there's absolutely nothing wrong cutting across an old t-shirt just under arms. This would make an infinity scarf. These are scarves sewed into an '8' shape, and very easy to wear loose on the neck but at the same time can be wrapped tight leaving no ends that bunch up uncomfortably, or dangle precariously at wheels or pedals. It'll keep your ears, neck, and chest warm. It will go aways to keeping you dry if you're out without your mac or it's not practical to put a hood up. It will wipe the rain off your seat, the sweat off your face, and keep you warm if you find yourself cold when you've got to your destination. Hell you can even tie it round your neck and pretend your flying on your bike if you like! The one pictured I made myself. It's an infinity scarf. I sewed it up using some very thin jersey material I found in John Lewis on sale.
What do you wear whilst on the short commute? When do you not get all lycra'd up? I myself refuse to put the lycra on for anything under 10 mile return... what's your magic number of miles? Let me know in the comments!
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