There's always some semblance of relief in the arrival of fall, in that many of us are feeling the fatigue that comes with riding almost every day, the big event rides are behind us, and the first cool mornings refresh the soul. For me, that lasts at least a couple of days until I realize that it is getting dark at 6:30, it gets cold when it gets dark, and I'm already missing the sweat soaked bibs, salt encrusted helmet straps, and nightly rides with my friends.
I'll tell readers the same thing that I have to tell myself: HTFU*
* From The Rules. See rule #5.
When following this edict, it is helpful to have a good collection of what I call bits. Those small cycling accessories that allow you to stay warm in the wide range of conditions that are typical of Arkansas winter riding. They add little soft and fuzzy barriers between you and weather related harshness where you need them the most.
Clockwise from bottom left: arm warmers, knee warmers, longer knee warmers, shoe covers, ear band, and toe covers.
Dress for flexibilityIt is not unusual to start a winter ride in cold conditions, only to be riding in sunshine and glorious warmth within a couple of hours. Arm warmers, knee warmers, and an ear band can keep you comfortable early in the ride and can be easily stashed in a jersey pocket as the temperatures rise. Add a vest to the mix and you can easily leave home equipped for everything from the 40's to the 70's; not an unusual fall or early spring temperature range in our home state.
Full on frigid conditions call for tights and more robust layers, but a base layer and bits can get you through most of an Arkansas winter.
Veteran riders will have a drawer full of the stretchy, fleecy accessories. If you don't have a collection of bits, go visit your local bike shop and spend a few bucks to get started. Retail therapy is good for you and specialty retailers love folks who shop local. It's also not too early to start that Christmas wish list. If you're like most of us, you're damn hard to buy for, so do your family a favor and conveniently leave a list of your needs lying around so that they can surprise you with exactly what you want.