For Cycling In Changeable Summer Conditions
It’s that time of year, when images from this summer’s Grand Tours are beginning to populate our screens and some of us are dreaming of a cycling escape to the mountains. For those fortunate enough to make that a reality, the right clothing strategy will banish any nightmares of being too hot, or worse, too cold.
It might be surprising to learn that one of the best materials to wear on those high-summer rides, is Merino wool.
Wool? In Summer?
Yes, people have been wearing wool all-year-round, for centuries. This anti-bacterial, naturally breathable fabric lends itself perfectly to the demands of variable weather conditions. The Merino variety of wool with its non-itchy, extremely fine fibres boasts fantastic heat regulative properties, making it an ideal fabric for wearing in hot weather.
If you think wearing Merino wool in summer is lunacy, consider the herds of Merino sheep introduced to Australia in 1797, who don’t feel the need to seek shade in mid-summer temperatures of 45°C.
Dress for Success
Let's face it, most of us don’t have the luxury of a team car following us while we ride, with a soigneur ready to hand out an extra layer when we need it. Most cyclists need to carry all of the clothing they will require on their ride, so layering up with the correct number of light layers is the best way to go.
Taking the example of a mountainous alpine ride, where the temperature might be 25°C at the foot of a climb, and sub-zero at the summit, here’s our guide on how to make the most of Merino.
Heating Up - Climbing
When the gradient ramps up, your effort naturally follows. Inevitably, that extra effort raises your core temperature and your body regulates this through perspiration.
Having a layer next to your skin that wicks away this moisture is paramount to staying comfortable, especially as the air temperature drops with the increase in altitude. The Ashmei Classic Short Sleeve Jersey combines Merino wool with carbon, an extremely efficient wicking agent, to keep the rider dry and comfortable during big efforts on the bike.
While the ability to climb like a mountain goat might be reserved for those in polka dots, anyone can benefit from the comfort of climbing in Merino wool. For best results, avoid pairing Merino with polyester, as synthetic fabrics can inhibit the breathability Merino has to offer. So, if the conditions demand an extra layer, consider the Ashmei Short Sleeve Base Layer.
Cooling Down - Descending
Cresting a long climb brings a rewarding sense of achievement, which can be forgotten quickly if you’re not ready for the chill of the descent. Cold sweat is not only uncomfortable, but can have negative effects on your wellbeing, so having ensured moisture was wicked away by an adequate next-to-skin layer, the main factor to consider is windchill.
By keeping a light, packable gilet in your back pocket, you can quickly add an extra layer of wind resistance to your outfit, and protect your core temperature from the chill of a long descent, when it’s not possible to pedal hard for warmth.
Keeping on top of the weather forecast is a wise endeavour for any cyclist, especially those riding routes with more exposure such as high mountain passes. A downpour at altitude can not only soak the rider to the bone, but can just as quickly drop their core temperature significantly.
If showers look likely, be sure to pack a waterproof jacket or rain cape. A packable option can take the place of a gilet in your back pocket if space is at a premium. But if persistent rain is forecast, consider the Ashmei Waterproof Jacket, which is also fantastically breathable, making it suitable for wearing throughout your ride.
The versatility of Merino wool makes it the perfect material for wearing in the high temperatures of mid-summer, with exceptional breathability that aids the regulation of core temperature.
This traditional material also delivers an understated and classic look. So whether you’re riding a 100km sportive in changeable conditions, a day-long audax or a multi-day alpine adventure, layering up with Merino wool could make your day.
Our Recommended 2018 Kit for Layering