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P. B. Walker 11-29-02 12:16 PM

Over-layering (long)
Well, I made my first big mistake yesterday. Went out for a nice long pre-Turkey day dinner ride. Went 60 miles in just over 4 hours. For the first 3 hours I was super nice and toasty. It was about 36 F when I started and I checked my cyclo computer a few times and it said at once point 41 F. But that was the highest it got. Then for some weird reason I started to get very chilly just after 3 hours of riding. This kept up until the end. I was even getting that burning feeling in my thighs.

Turns out... my sweat had soaked thru all my layers. My outer jacket was wet from about chest down to knees. Under my jacket, I was soaked from shoulders down to knees. I couldn't even tell I was wet when I was on the bike. My skin didn't feel wet at all. I think I might have gotten a touch of frost bite. After my shower, my lower stomach and thighs both looked like they had 3rd degree sunburn. Didn't really hurt like a sunburn, thank god.

I guess I had over-layered just a tad much and my sweat had soaked my upper layering and eventually soaked down into my tights.

What I wore was:

Tank undershirt
Bib shorts
RLX Mountain Bike short sleeve jersey (pretty flimsy but it wicks well)
Arm warmers from Performance Bike
RLX wind vest
Pearl Izumi Leg Warmers
Cannondale wool socks
Defeet socks over those
Cycle shoes
Booties from Performance the illuminite kind
Tights from Performance the illuminite kind
Performance XALT cycling jacket

I think the culprit was the XALT cycling jacket. That has always been super warm for me. I usually only use that when it's below 35F, but I thought it was suppose to get colder during the day. Plus, we had about a 10 mph wind that I was heading into. My other jacket is the RLX wind jacket, which is not as warm and it's much thinner and vents much better.

I was trying to think of ways to avoid this. Do you normally check yourself during your ride to make sure you aren't getting too wet? I thought I was pretty layered, but apparently I was way over-layered. Any thoughts? suggestions?



Mtn Mike 11-29-02 09:16 PM

I've had the same problem when riding for several hours. I'm thinking the issue is with the breathability of the outer layer. I've decided that from now on, if its not raining or wet, I wont wear a shell/windbreaker for the outer layer, just the "middle layer" and thats it. We'll see how it works.

P. B. Walker 11-29-02 10:39 PM

I think you are right. I'm going on another ride tomorrow and I'm going to try that. I might be a bit chiller at the beginning, but I think I'll warm up and not sweat as much. Or at least the sweat will evaporate.


IowaParamedic 11-29-02 11:07 PM

What do you do when you get wet? How do you dry out on the ride?

velocipedio 11-30-02 06:55 AM


Originally posted by IowaParamedic
What do you do when you get wet? How do you dry out on the ride?
It depends on the time of year... but I know every bike shop within a 100 km radiu of my house, and most of them will let me in to dry/warm up. I find that if you can get your bike into a public washroom [so as not to leave it unattended], you can dry off pretty well with those hot-air hand dryers. It takes about 20 minutes to get everything dry, and people think you're nuts, but if you're 60 km from home, it's worth it.

Jean Beetham Smith 11-30-02 10:26 AM

I think your problem was overlayering your mid-section: undershirt, bib shorts, jersey, windvest & jacket is a lot. The wind vest may have been the real culprit. For the temps you are describing I typically would have worn a coolmax Tee, long-sleeve jersey and my Jackson-Gibbons breathable rain jacket. Initially, I zip everything shut and as soon as I stop feeling chilly I open the pit zip down the sleeves, if that makes me chilly I stay there for a while. If I don't get chilly, I open the pit zip down the side of my torso, then I start loosening the neck zipper. I try to feel slightly cool, with the exception of my hands & feet. I layer them also, and if I continue to feel warm I start to reduce those layers as well. Since I'm not race training, I usually take an extra fleece vest in case I am underdressed, and a spare pair of gloves in case I lose one. I notice you did not mention what you were wearing on your head. I tend to only wear my helmet & ear covers until temps are below 20F.

P. B. Walker 11-30-02 05:14 PM

I had on a balaclava and a headsweat skull cap (it's really light... mostly wear it to keep my helmut tight.. the balaclava makes my helmet looser for some reason).

Had on two pairs of gloves (one of them is the liners to my heavy gloves and the other is just the long fingered gloves from specialized).

Yeah, I think it was just the midsection. I rode today in slightly warmer temps, but I wore a lighter outer jacket. Was much better. Plus, halfway thru I took off the vest. Still stayed warm and I wasn't soaked at the end of the ride. Course, it was only a 2 hour ride, not a 4 hr ride like last time


Merriwether 12-01-02 11:50 PM

Good posts, and an important topic. As P.B. discovered, soaking your own clothes can be dangerous.

Something like this nearly happened to me, once. I had to stop to check something mechanical, and I noticed a moisture line on my jacket. I got concerned, and dried off in a park bathroom with the air hand dryer, as Velocipedio suggests. Close call, I guess. I didn't feel wet, but I might have gotten very chilled very quickly.

After this happened, I tried to be more careful on rides longer than an hour. I try to not to wear an outer jacket wind layer even on pretty cold days, ~25-30F. Sometimes I'll put a newspaper under my jersey, TDF style, to help myself get warmed up. This is an especially comforting tactic into the wind. When I'm feeling heated up, the paper can go.

On really cold days I think sweat freezes on the outer layer, and I suspect this actually helps insulate. At least, on very cold days (t < 0F) I can go out for more than an hour with an outer jacket. The jacket will have a thin film of ice crystals on the outside. I can keep warm though. So, maybe a little ice in the breathing pores can help?

nathank 12-02-02 02:08 AM

yeah, it is a point to be careful about soaking yourself in sweat when it's cold out... i guess i've got this one under control for normal constant riding, but when long climbs and descents are invloved - like yesterday's ride where we climbed 500m at 15-22% grade at 1C - i generate so much heat climbing, so what i have learned is i take off almost everything (yesterday i had on my short-sleeve jersey and arm-warmers pushed to the wrists plus 1 pair gloves) and then sweat like crazy. at the top i wait a few minutes to cool a little so i don't soak the new clothes but not so long as to get chilled and take off the soaked jersey and put on a new jersey, long-sleeve. when it's cold out i almost always carry an extra jersey and gloves - more weight, but it's just safer/more pleasant that way b/c i have been on rides when i wished i had had warmer clothing.

but yeah, you do have to pay a little attention to how much you're sweating and if you need to ventilate or take something off.

MichaelW 12-02-02 08:54 AM

I would query the use of arm/leg-warmers on a consistantly cold day. They are perfect for mountains where the temp changes rapidly, but on a long predictable ride, I find it much better to use a long-sleeved wickable jersey and full leggings over shorts. You can also avoid the discomfort of every layer having its own rear pocket. This can really bug me sometimes.

The breathbility of the outer layer is critical. If its not raining, then anything waterproof is not breathable enough. Look for a micro-fibre windproof or some other windproof non-waterproof system.

When your inner and outer layers are working well, then the mid-layers are less critical. Use thin fleece, sleveless jersey, or even woolen jersey to find tune the insulation.

If Im riding a big hill in the winter I sometimes take an extra long-sleeved jersey with me, and change out of the wet one at the top. I always carry spare layers in winter, in case I have to stop.
If it might rain, Ill carry a gortetex jacket, in addition to the windproof. It is good for insulation if the temp drops at the end of the ride.

roadbuzz 12-02-02 11:37 AM

What was the tank undershirt made of? All the wicking in the world won't help much if the bottom layer is a moisture magnet!

P. B. Walker 12-02-02 02:05 PM


Originally posted by roadbuzz
What was the tank undershirt made of? All the wicking in the world won't help much if the bottom layer is a moisture magnet!
It was one of those Performance Mini-mesh Tanks. It's made of a Hydrotech mesh that wicks really good.

After reading the responses here, I know I screwed up on the outer layer. It was that waterproof XALT jacket. It basically kept everything in and didn't give me a chance to dry.

I've since done 2 more long rides in about the same temps (actually one ride was even colder and had stonger winds) with the same layering, except I switched the XALT outer jacket for just a thin wind jacket from RLX. It worked beautifully. When I started to get warm, I just unzipped the jacket and vest a little bit and let the air cool my chest and abdomen. Stayed nice and warm and didn't get soaked.

Tough lesson to learn, but glad I did.

I'm looking to buy some long sleeve jerseys.


roadbuzz 12-02-02 04:41 PM

It's probably not optimal (and I'd be curious to hear from others more knowledgeable), but you can get long-sleeve polyester T-shirts at your local MegaLoMart for ~$10. They make a decent lower layer shirt for layering. A jersey is best as the top layer shirt, because you can zip/unzip to control airflow for cooling/drying.

Merriwether 12-08-02 01:14 AM


I've got a couple of those Megalowmart $7 synthetic long sleeve undershirts. They're great. Not noticeably different in function than $35 REI-Northface-A14 cold weather clothing.

I recommend a stop at Wally World for anyone looking to get ahold of some winter clothes. Cheap underlayers, gloves, and synthetic socks all await. Cheap boots, too, if you don't need a cycling cleat.

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