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    What else should I know about clothing?  
    I work with a Boy Scout troop and this is what we tell all the new Scouts:

Dress appropriate to the weather and since we can't predict that be prepared! Artificial fibers such as nylon, polyester, spandex, etc. wick moisture away from your body and this keeps you warm (sweat-free layer next to your skin). They dry very quickly. Wool also works well, but a wool sweater may take so long to dry on a multi-day trip that it is useless. Non-down insulators in sleeping bags, coats, and gloves (such as Hollofil, Polarguard, Thinsulate, etc.) even insulate when very wet. Watch out for down sleeping bags and coats unless you can keep them dry. Wet down is a pile of soggy feathers and fairly useless. Don't use cotton in cold or wet weather!

As far as hot weather goes - light colored, loose-fitting, cotton T-shirts are great! Cotton has the ability to wick heat away from your body as it dries. This means that on those 90+ days you just need to get it wet - whether you use a convenient stream, somebody's water bottle, or the hose on the water truck doesn't matter. BTW sweaty (salty) water doesn't seem to work quite as well for evaporating so wash the sweat off occasionally.

As for what I am packing for riding: polyester/spandex bike shorts; bike jerseys and loose cotton white T-shirts (listen to weather forecast each night and decide which to wear); polyester fleece vest with full zipper front; unlined nylon windbreaker with full zipper front; polyester/spandex leg warmers, arm warmers, and skull cap; cycling rain coat (has a long tail and shorter front); regular padded cycling gloves; cold weather insulated gloves (get something flexible that you can handle your shifters with - gloves from Target, etc. will be much cheaper than cycling gloves); polyester socks; cycling shoes; and, of course, a helmet with a visor. By wearing the appropriate pieces of this you can handle below freezing to 90+ weather comfortably and CO will probably give you samples of both. Remember wind chill coming down those long hills! We have also found the above to be very light weight. CO usually has a gear drop somewhere around lunch where you can bag your excess clothes and they will haul them to camp for you.

For extremely cold mornings on the road and around camp – nylon, unlined, pants similar to a windbreaker (Note: These may be used in place of the leg warmers or in addition to them. I also bring an ankle strap to keep the pant leg out of the chain.)

For around camp - loose, comfortable clothes and shoes that can handle hot afternoons and cold evenings. Plan on layering. I found that after wearing Spandex all day I did not want any tight clothes or my bike shoes in camp.

Don't worry about this - just be prepared. If a 10 year old Boy Scout can have fun camping in the rain so can you!

Rox Heath

BTW, in previous posts I have mentioned cotton T-shirts for hot weather – I should probably clarify this. I mean the cotton/polyester mixes you see everywhere. This is good chance to use the shirts you get on these local bike rides (although a few of them are kind of dark-colored.)

Rox Heath

T-shirts vs. bike jerseys -

I think some of the confusion on this one is whether you like a tight or a loose shirt while riding. From what I have seen CoolMax and similar work best on contact in a form-fitting shirt. They do wick the moisture away and you don't feel like your are just wearing a wet shirt.

If you like a loose shirt while riding in hot weather then the cotton holds the moisture and it billows around you as you ride. As water evaporates it cools what was wet - as anybody in wet jeans in the winter has had experience with. This means that the air flowing past your skin is cool. It is almost like being inside an air conditioner if you get to really moving.

As far as personal preference - pick a couple of HOT days and do similar bike rides on each. On one wear a jersey such as you would on CO, on the other one wear a loose, WHITE, lightweight, cotton T-shirt (make sure it is loose, lightweight, white, and cotton!). We usually use a shirt almost a size too big. See which you like best. One other advantage of the T-shirt is with the nice baggy sleeves you can wipe across your face while riding easily. This is a handy method of getting sweat out of your eyes.

All three of us started with the T-shirts and tried jerseys several times and don't like them near as well on a hot day.

I have found that for skin-tight clothing, such as undergarments, I prefer CoolMax to cotton.

On a cold, wet day nothing matches synthetics - avoid cotton like crazy.

We are taking enough white T-shirts for the whole week and throwing in a couple of synthetic jerseys in case of rain - they don't take much room or weigh much.

Some people also prefer cotton sport socks to synthetic - as long as it is dry out. Try both and see what you think. This one probably mostly relates to what you normally wear when exercising.

Rox Heath

PS I was the one who put white, lightweight, cotton T-shirts on my list – CO said synthetic jerseys on their list.

With all the talk of jerseys, laundry, etc. I was wondering if the new folks were getting the idea that you have to have a complete set of cycling clothes for each day. This runs into an incredible amount of money. Bike shorts (or bike underwear) are pretty necessary, but most of the rest of it you can make up from what's on hand or available locally at a cheaper source. Just make sure it is comfortable and try it out on a "stressful" (long, hot or cold) ride and see if you like it. From what I saw on CO 7, 11 and 12 a lot of people (about 1/2 ???) wear T-shirts and probably at least that many are not wearing bike socks. Bike shoes are nice (stiffer soles than normal shoes), but again there are an awful lot of people out there in cross-trainers or similar (what everybody wears all over now days).

Rox Heath

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Last year, Mike and I found that the CO jerseys needed a washing or two to be comfortable, so we're not planning to wear our new COXII jerseys on the road.

Amy C. Buondonno

I have a couple of these Akwatek jerseys from Nashbar and they're really quite soft to the touch -- softer than Coolmax and most other synth fabrics, I'd say. My only concern is that the silk screening process might leave a bit of a funky smell that would, without prewashing, get worse once it gets good and sweaty.

Tom Hohn

Jerseys aren't "necessary"... but I love the pockets. After all, there's no hip pocket in a pair of cycling shorts, and even if there was, it wouldn't be big enough for my camera and a banana.

Scott Saulsbury

I would definitely get padded bike shorts. Your butt will thank you. You don’t want to wear cotton, so if you have some synthetic t-shirts, great. The main advantage bike jerseys provide are the pockets in the back.

Craig Bryant

Yes on the clothes. Bike shorts that are padded are a must. Bike clothing with wick-a-way fabric (NOT COTTON) that dries quick and breathes are a must.

Scott Hoover

Cycling clothing of all kinds is highly recommended, especially when it is made of moisture-wicking fabric (tops and bottoms). The last time we did the stretch from Joseph to Baker city, the temperature was over 100 degrees. Obviously, no guarantees for this year [CO 12], but be prepared for extremes - high and low.

Curt Coleman

One definite answer - Get bike shorts & Gloves. I like the ones with the most gel padding that you can possibly find.

On the T-shirt thing - if it's going to be a cold wet day, you don't want to wear cotton - if it's a hot, dry desert day (like the ones in eastern Oregon) you can wear a light colored t-shirt (Black is bad) and douse yourself every now & then to keep cool. There's at least one guy who wears Hawaiian shirts from the fifties each and every day - rain or shine - he isn't dead yet, so I'd say the jury is still out on T-Shirts.

Ken Cregger

When choosing clothing, don't forget to bring a wind breaker. Also, I often start the morning with a capilene or polypropylene type long sleeve turtleneck type shirt with a zipper under my jersey to ward off the morning chill. I take it off later and toss it in my seatbag since it rolls up real small or you could put it in a jersey pocket.

Tom Spille

Hey, Don (Columbia Man) Bolton,

The manager at "my" bike shop discouraged me from buying any of his windbreakers! I was looking at them while all the personnel were helping other people and he was on the phone. When he came over to help me I said I wanted a non- water-repellant windbreaker because the repellant ones were too hot, don't breath, etc. So he tells me he used to work in sports wear textiles and today I wouldn't find what I was looking for because of (a big long story re clothing vs. sports equipment, via water repellant or not and pricing thereof, etc.). Bottom line according to him is we won't find windbreakers (cyclist-type) that aren't water repellant. I've bought four cycling windbreakers over the past couple of years and they all have the coating. He told me to run them through the washing machine with a couple of old tennis shoes to act as an abrasive, wrong side out, time after time and the coating would come off after so many (how many?) washings. Will you comment on this whole sad story? I HAD a nice red Pearl Izumi windbreaker and somehow lost it somewhere between LaGrande and Denver last year. It DIDN'T have the coating on it and boy, oh, boy, do I ever miss that ole thing! Thanks for any ideas you come up with.

Penny (lucky to live in Colorado) Overdier

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He's partly right I'm afraid. The coating comes part and parcel to the mass market garments. It’s a selling feature. Most people can stay dry while dashing from their car to the door of the mall.

These coatings do break down I've heard approximately 20 washings starts to damage these coatings.

That being said. Pearl Izumi and other cyclewear manufacturers use a poly fiber fabric that is water repellant by nature (PI calls it Zepphr Columbia markets it as Microtek). Its fibers create a water barrier until they eventually soak thru. I haven't seen water bead up on these like you do with something that has a coating does. So I'm uncertain what he's defining as a "windbreaker" in this context.

I have found the Pearl Izumi cycling windbreakers to be perfectly designed for the purpose. Highly breathable and water resistant to a point. Seems like others I tried early on did have coatings and were hothouses. Cheaper priced stuff seemed to function less.

I've been too cheap to get their rainwear, however.:-)

I've been thru a lot of rainwear & so far nothing Columbia makes that I've tried breathes enough for cycling. The Burlington Ultrex fabric is similar, and the WL Gore stuff is Arctic ready, just sit still. REI has a rainwear combo (Jacket and Pants) "Randonee" made out of their "Elements" fabric. I've found the Jackets to be quite breathable (not Zepphr quality but close) but have had troubles with the mesh liners seam splitting.

Bottom line is that cycling is a smaller niche market for the garment industry and its clothing highly specialized. Most of the clothing manufacturers don't have the proper distribution channels for cycling and most of the contracted cycling wear manufacturers don't have access to all the R&D the big companies do. You end up with a properly designed (cut, features, etc) garment using "off the mass market shelf" fabric technology. Or you pay PI prices for stuff engineered both in features and fabric technology.

A few months ago Nike and Trek inked a clothing deal in which Nike gets Trek's distribution channels and garment specs while Trek gets access to Nike's R&D and manufacturing abilities. I hold some hope that this may in fact change things in our favor.

Don "sometimes you just hafta buck up and shell out for the best" Bolton

I'm sensing in my experience that nylon fabric sucks as a jacket for active people. Despite the "breathable" touting I find the nylon shells good for casual walking and riding in vehicles. Polyester shells using the same basic coatings appear to breathe quite a bit better and lend themselves well to cycling.

You might be best off commuting in a standard windshell. They usually take awhile to soak through, dry before you have to leave for home and retain their thermal characteristics despite being wet.

Also I've seen the WL Gore waterproof "refresh" coating in the stores of late, I wonder how an application of that on a regular windshell would work?

Don Bolton

What type of windshell? Any particular brand?

Stacey Gray

The standard Pearl Izumi "Zephyr" fabric. The other brands use a similar fabric. Its a polyester smooth surface fabric. Tight knit, breathes extremely well. A short mid heat tumble dry expands the fibers enhancing the water repellency (just don't cook it)...

Brand is inconsequential, the fabric is the thing. Columbia markets a version of this fabric as their "Microtek". Not in a useable bike configuration however.

Don "avoid nylon, they say it breathes, they lie" Bolton

Are you warm blooded? I have moved away from cotton and wool to the light polypro units-- one set long underwear, one vest, one jacket, one pair glove liners (these are great in AM or on rainy days), one pair arm warmers (very useful in AM), one pair leg warmers, one ear warmer or thin hat. A decent rain jacket doubles for wind. I've no experience with rain capes but wonder about getting wet from below, and wind tunneling. One pair wind / rain pants rounds it out. Knock wood, but Eastern Oregon [CO 12] is the dry part of the state, so rain is less likely than in the past two years. And with the two layovers, we should be able to dry out laundry. Check out the list in riders handbook.

Amy Ream

I personally would avoid the down - at least while riding. Remember wet down is a pile of wet feathers and does not insulate. Not only does it rain on CO, but you are going to sweat buckets while riding (even in cold weather unless you constantly add/remove it as the terrain varies). Use the cotton sweatshirts in camp if you want, but not while riding. Cotton is very nice to cool you off - it cools as the moisture evaporates, but any time it is cold enough for a sweatshirt it is too cold for cotton. Use a fleece made of 100% synthetics.

Rox Heath

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > What to Take > Clothes > Miscellaneous Clothes Info  

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