Maintaining a consistent temperature when riding in the mountains is almost impossible and pro riders rely heavily on the team cars for extra layers and items of kit. However, if you’re planning on tackling some big mountains what can you do to stay comfortable and what extra kit should you put into your jersey pockets?
Key to comfort is a quality base layer under your jersey. A mesh style vest will help you stay cool in the heat and, by trapping an insulating layer of warm air, also provide some warmth in the cold. Look for synthetic wicking fabrics or, although more expensive, you can’t beat the performance that Merino wool delivers. Avoid cotton which will tend to hold onto sweat and potentially chill you. Aid the wicking and drying of your base layer by ventilating it when climbing. Choose a jersey with a full length zip and open it up completely when working hard.
Packing down small, modern windproof gilets have replaced the traditional chill beating tactic of pushing a newspaper down the front of your jersey, although, this is surprisingly effective. Even if the forecast looks favourable, a long mountain descent after a hard sweaty climb, can easily chill you and we’d recommend always carrying a gilet. Even if you can’t manage the pro trick of putting it on while rolling over the top of the climb, the seconds lost for a brief stop are definitely worth it.
Taking up hardly any room in your jersey pockets, or worn rolled down on your wrists, arm warmers can make a real difference on mixed temperature rides. If the forecast is looking bad up high, you might also want to consider carrying some knee warmers too.
Long fingered gloves
Especially if you suffer from poor circulation, cold fingers on a long descent can be truly miserable, painful and, if they have an effect on your ability to brake, potentially dangerous. Carrying some lightweight windproof gloves or even some ultra lightweight silk liner gloves can really take the edge off the chill.
Casquette / headband
Modern ventilated helmets are great for keeping you cool on the way up climbs but can lead to chilling and an ice-cream headache on the way back down. A casquette, traditional peaked cotton cycling cap, will fold down small, sit under your helmet and keep the worst of the chill off your head. If you suffer from cold ears, a headband is another lightweight packable lifesaver.