â€‹Four key pieces of kit for summer
We Brits have finally had our first taste of summer with temperatures pushing up into the mid twenties last weekend. For us cyclists, it gave us the unfamiliar luxury of having our kit choice made for us, rather than fretting for hours over whether or not to wear leg warmers, which base layer, etc. There will have been many people sidling into work on Monday with early evidence of the trademark cyclist's tan lines after enjoying their first weekend in short sleeves.
Our favourite kit enjoys far greater use in the summer months, but despite the warmer weather, it can still be very easy to get caught out. We have five essential pieces of kit to think about as we head into summer.
The day when we can change our high contrast or clear lenses for the polarised lenses that our shades were, let's face it, designed for, is a good day. A good pair of sunglasses not only protect our eyes from the sun's strength, but also help us to look and feel more pro. One of the most vital roles your shades will play is preventing clouds of bugs from launching an attack on your exposed eyeballs. There is nothing worse than scooping dead midge out of your iris with a fingernail.
Check out the Tifosi Bronx Polarised Clarion
There is a base layer for every possible situation the British weather can throw at us and getting the selection right in summer, is arguably harder than at any other time of year. A long-sleeved base beneath a short-sleeved jersey can be perfect for early morning starts, but you may curse the irremovable sleeves if it gets too warm. A short base layer coupled with arm warmers would be better in this instance so that you can release the 'guns' when the sun comes out.
The mesh base layer variety are particularly handy when it gets really warm. Not only should their scientifically developed moisture-wicking material keep you cool, but these minimal vests can offer a little modesty if you feel the need to unzip your jersey. If you get the opportunity to take your bike away to somewhere that really knows the meaning of summer, and perhaps ride up some grades, you will appreciate this, particularly if female.
Try the Altura Dry Mesh S/S Baselayer this summer
Hats and headwear
The duty of cycling headwear goes from the provision of warmth during winter to the absorption of perspiration in summer. Besides the questionable benefit of shielding your eyes from the sun, there are other useful features of the summer cap. If you have dark hair, a light coloured cap under your helmet will help to keep your head cool. Equally, if you have thin hair, a hat will prevent you from burning.
You could try this lively pink number from Specialized, this more conservative effort from Trek, or pay tribute to the Shark of Messina, Vicenzo Nibali, with this Astana replica cap.
Sock choice is one of the easiest things to get wrong in summer. For the sake of simplicity we're putting aside the complicated fashion debate regarding sock length, colour, shoe pairing in the pro peloton and focussing on practicality and comfort. A basic grasp of primary school physics tells us that black = warm, white = cool. A basic grasp of common sense indicates that thick is going to be warmer than thin. You get the idea. If it's going to be a hot day, go for a comfortable pair of breathable, lightweight white socks to keep your pistons firing.
Here is such a pair for men, and one for women. Or shop all socks now.
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