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.
RBR 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.
Even in the summer, at night going past corn fields, the temperature drops! The corn plants are actively respiring and releasing water. This moisture evaporates, and evaporation cools down the general area.
larry english says
i can;t believe knee temperature
a. stays constant with wildly changing wind and sun or
b. is measurable or even guess-able inside the knee joint, or even at the skin surface
c. is affected much by clothes! there is no blood to speak of in the joint, how can it even be regulated or affected by the body? no matter what clothes you wear, it is not like the core/abdomen or head/brain, with a fast and plentiful blood supply. there is just no heat to keep in, on the knee
it is not wrong to try to keep knees warm, i just think it is not measurable, or possible really
just my 2c worth
Kerry Irons says
From your comments one might conclude that you are not very “temperature sensitive.” I know I can really feel the difference between cooler and warmer temps at my knees. The surface temperature of your skin, and therefore the temperature of tissues at various depths from your skin, is directly tied to the rate of heat loss and the effective ambient temperature. This is why we have “wind chill temperature.” Higher wind speed against your skin means more rapid heat loss, and all else equal, lower skin and subcutaneous tissue temperatures.
Maybe you can’t believe it, but it’s true.
now i know where the term nutty English’ comes from…so I guess your ears would be fine in the arctic with no hat….guess he Eskimos should wear shorts too!