Question: Now that it’s warmer I want to shed my tights. But all of the experienced riders around here tell me to keep my legs covered. Is there a rule of thumb (knee?) for when it’s safe to reveal my gams to the elements? — Perry C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: A cyclist’s knees are directly exposed to cool spring (and autumn) air. The danger is compounded because a bike’s speed generates windchill.
The standard advice is to wear tights, knee or leg warmers when the temperature is 65F degrees (18C) or lower. Covering up protects your knees and keeps your muscles warm. There’s no disadvantage to keeping your legs covered further into the spring. Your tan can wait!
Be especially careful if snow banks still line the road. The thermometer may say you don’t need to cover your legs, but snow on the roadside creates a microclimate of colder air at knee height.
Knee warmers or leg warmers work better than tights when you can’t decide if you need to cover up, or when a chilly start will give way to balmy temps. You can quickly pull warmers on or off, and stow them in a jersey pocket.
Want to know what to wear at every temperature? Check out this popular guide to cycling attire at each temp.