A few years ago, I toed the line at Cyclocross nationals in my home state of Texas. The temperature was around 34 degrees—cold enough for the rain to transition to sleet. I hadn’t grown up biking in cold weather, so I felt the chill in my bones. I wound up so miserable I had to pull out of that race. As soon as I did, I made it a point to figure out my system of layering while on the bike.
I started off with a bit of common knowledge: that we lose most of our body heat through the tops of our heads. It turns out that isn’t true (see for yourself). Instead, our bodies release heat more or less evenly across their surfaces. So learning to layer for an autumn ride should involve more than putting on a cycling cap.
Thankfully, it’s not all that hard. Let’s start from the ground up.