The inspiration for the series came from a question from a Rookie and through a few e-mails it was decided that the questions should be answered that he had openly so everyone can take advantage of the answers. (Thanks for agreeing to that, by the way!) Also- If you are a reader and have any great suggestions or ideas for these questions, feel free to pop that in a comment and submit it.
This series will kick off by answering a few questions about weather related issues and Trans Iowa. Some back ground here from one of the e-mails I received: "Here in (where the e-mailer is from) it rarely gets below 40 degrees. Typically leg warmers, socks and a light jacket will get you through the winter. I do own a pair of tights and and a med weight base layer. If it rains here we just ride in it because it is a warm rain. We have had less than 1” of snow over the last 3 years. Today it was almost 80."
|It is not unusual for Trans Iowa to be wet, cold, and windy.|
Answer: As with any cold weather cycling, you should think about three things: Layers, venting, and vapor barriers. If wetness is in the forecast, then waterproofness might also become a concern. However; waterproof materials aren't a totally necessary thing. I'll explain later.
Trans Iowa typically is cool to cold to start out with. We've had snow flurries at the start, rain, wind, you name it. However; generally speaking it is going to start out in the 40's somewhere and go as high as 70° during the day and back down again to the 40's. We've had a lot of night time temps into the mid 30's, and several TI's that never got out of the 50's for highs. This all means that you probably will need to think about layers and how those can work to be convertible to warmer temps and added on when it gets colder. Remember- Saturday night of Trans Iowa will come after you've been riding for 16 hours already. You are guaranteed to be sweaty and soaked, even if the atmosphere is dry. You'll want layers for the evening.
While there are freaks of nature on both ends of the "clothing needed spectrum", I am limiting my suggestions to the norms I know. Yes to thermal tights! Those are pretty much a standard TI clothing choice. Okay- if the weather is forecast to be decent, knickers. Or shorts with leg warmers. The top layers can vary, but after reading tons of rider reports, the following things have risen to the top of the mention pile. Base Layer: Light synthetic, Summer weight or light wool. Then usually a wool layer of some sort. (Note- you don't have to wear both base layers at once. You may want to save one for later) Folks vary between tank, short sleeve, and long sleeved here. Then a jersey, usually short sleeved and made long sleeved with arm warmers. A wind jacket then is usually used over all that. A clear rain jacket or cheapo-thin rain jacket like an O2 rain jacket can be used here as well.
Following are some images from past Trans Iowas to help here.......
|Start line of V8. Things were wet, windy, and cool. Note- There are some bare legs. Image by Wally Kilburg.|
|Trans Iowa v10. SUPER WINDY! It was warm too. Image by Wally Kilburg.|
|Bruce Gustafson during the abysmal T.I.v11. It was raining, 30mph winds, and about 38°F|
|Mark Johnson made use of plastic shopping bags as vapor/wind barriers for hands and feet in T.I.v13 Image by Jon Duke|
Hands are another thing. I usually see a glove liner and a thicker over-glove or mitten. That way you can shed layers down to bare hands during the day and back to layered up at night. We've seen BarMitts used though, so there are those that go the pogie route. Again, bringing everything and basing the decision on what to wear based upon weather at the time of Trans Iowa is usually the go-to method for many riders.
I know it is really tempting to go for the waterproof jackets, but you will be on your bike so long that you will end up making it rain inside your jacket with sweat anyway. I've seen the packable, clear, cheapo rain jackets used more than I have any high dollar, super fabric commuter rain jacket. That is usually more for the wind than it is for the rain though. Now Goretex has that new jacket that gets rave reviews, but it is $300 plus bucks too. If you can swing it, I've heard it is amazing.
Tomorrow: Lights and Batteries