What to wear on a night ride?

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This week I’ve been asked by a friend what should be worn on the London to Brighton night ride in July. Also how cold does it get?

Last year the ride was in May on that hot weekend, yes the one we had, the lowest temperature was 18 degrees C if I remember. However part of this ride you body is battling against lack of sleep and this is a factor, therefore 18 degrees can feel like 10-12.

Due to the weather I wore shorts (lycra obviously) and my jersey with my jacket in a back pack/rucksack. At 4am when the sun comes up its a little chilly in the Surrey/Sussex countryside. I remember a cold mist/fog on some of the rolling countryside, it really was a beautiful scene. As we know its also colder in the countryside than urban areas, especially if there is little or no cloud cover. All these will impact on your body and potential to ride.

A jacket is a must, tights optional depending upon the weather & personal choice as is a back pack/rucksack. There are plenty of jackets on the market which fold away into a pouch which reduces the need for a rucksack and you could use leg & arm warmers to keep the limbs comfortable. I used my jacket between the second and third rest stop around dawn just to keep the chill off before the sun worked its magic for a glorious summers day.

One way to find out is to include a training ride in similar conditions. Going for a 4am ride when you are cold will provide some vital experience for anyone who is completing their first night ride. You will get to find out how good your kit is before event day. I suppose a training ride in the rain better be a good idea too! For now let’s not combine the two!

Last year I researched the blogs and experiences of those who completed the Manchester to Blackpool night ride in September 2010. They all had jackets but it was September in the north west. It could well have been raining.

For this year I’m going with the following weather depending:
Base layer
Jersey (not sure which one yet)
Bib shorts (prevents a gap between shorts & jersey)
Jacket (in pouch)
Gels in jersey pockets
Two water bottles on bike (can be topped up en route)
Gloves
Lights
Security lock

Plus something I didn’t have last year a saddle bag. This is ideal for your pump, spare tube, multi tool & depending upon size & how secure its fixed keys, wallet & small first aid kit. This should then reduce the need for a rucksack, but let’s see.

Experience helps. Last year I took on too much sugar and not enough water, resulting in cramp in the calf. Whilst Haribo and Jaffa cakes are very useful water is a key ingredient too. Less sports drinks, instead water and gels (if I can find some which actually taste nice). Suncream! Not just for the beach afterwards, if the weather is good, the sun can be strong in July and the back of your neck can be exposed. Sunburn hurts.

I hope this has been useful to anyone completing their first (or second) night ride. You can show your support at my fundraising page. See you in the saddle soon.

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One thought on “What to wear on a night ride?

    Nige said:
    29/05/2013 at 1:01 pm

    all good information. bib nicks are a must due to the lack of elastic waistband – makes them much more comfortable. leg and arm warmers are practical, easy to pull up and down and can stay on your wrists and ankles to save space in the pockets.
    saddle bags are good and for longer rides i take a frame bag which can store a couple of gels, banana, mobile etc. i have a top peak frame bag, pretty cheap and does the business.
    you could also have one water bottle filed with Endura or similar and one just plain water. if there are no hydration stations on route consider buying a couple of larger water bottles instead of the usual size and last but not least i haven’t heard you mention butt cream, prevents chafing especially useful on longer rides as after all nobody want to get a boil or an infection down there. comes as a cream or as a tub of waxy stuff, both good but i reckon the tub is longer lasting on a ride.

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