No matter the weather it’s really important to wear a base layer under your cycling jersey. The reason is sweat, or rather, how much better your ride is without it. While there is not much you can do to prevent sweating when you ride you can easily add a base layer to wick sweat from your body and send it on its way.
Sweating when you exercise is an important bodily function that helps regulate your core temperature. The hotter the weather or the harder you cycle the more sweat is required to interact with the air and cool your skin.
The issue we can have is that, as we sweat, our garments absorb the moisture and hold onto it, along with any bacteria, minerals and dirt contained or collected along the way. Over a long ride the amount of accumulated sweat can be significant and cause discomfort.
This is easily solved by wearing a specially designed base layer. There are multiple benefits to beating the sweat factor, 11 of them in fact.
Moisture wicking science means that specially designed under layers draw sweat off your skin and out to the surface of the fabric. Other fabrics absorb moisture and hold it in their fibres, that means there is a limit to how much they can hold, and when saturated, sweat is left to sit between the fabric and your skin. Clothes designed to wick away moisture follow the science of sweating themselves by expelling almost all of the moisture they collect and ‘wicking’ it to the surface to make contact with the air and evaporate. They also trap and store salt and minerals that would otherwise be left as residue on your skin.
While they are more expensive than standard cloth fabrics, moisture wicking garments are still affordable and worth the little extra for the technology and comfort behind what they can do.
In summer a lightweight base layer vest under your jersey will actually keep you cooler. Your body functions better and cools more quickly when that sweat is absorbed and evaporated, so you are cooler with more of the right layers on, even more so than cycling topless.
Yes, you sweat in winter so wicking is important. A base layer made from Merino wool not only feels great on your skin, it creates a windbreak to keep the cold air out while keeping your body heat in and absorbing sweat.
Sweat trapped in your clothes gets heavy and your garments can itch or rub uncomfortably at the seams, causing rashes or irritation. You might not notice as much on the bike, since you are putting all your energy into turning the peddles, however, you will definitely notice when you stop for coffee, when that cold damp feeling washes over you and stays put for at least half the ride home.
Tackling a big climb on the bike can see you get into some stiff cold winds at the peak, even during summer. All that hard work on the lower gradients means you have clothes soaked with sweat. While a cool change might initially be pleasant, it can quickly turn uncomfortable, especially on the decent when the wind is whistling through your zipper front. These conditions; going from hot to cold in rapid succession, is not only uncomfortable it can potentially make you vulnerable to catching a cough, chest infection or in extremely cold conditions, hypothermia.
Wearing a base layer means you’re not soaked with sweat when you hit the peak and descend. The base layer acts as a windbreak and keeps your natural body temperature controlled as you fly down the hill.
Lining up for a big event, your first race or a win that really matters might have your stomach full of butterflies and your favourite kit soaked under the arms. Nerves trigger a sweaty response from your glands in an attempt to counter your increased heart rate. A base layer will have you looking and feeling fresh and cool as you line up for those red-letter rides and keep you that way for the duration of the event, no matter the distance.
Sweat contains minerals, salts and bacteria. When it dries that bacteria causes an odour that can be really unpleasant and possibly embarrassing around the table at the cafe. If you have a history of body odour, shave or trim your underarm hair to reduce bacteria levels and look for base layer garments that have anti-odour treatments included, although, most people will find the wicking base layer alone is enough to prevent smelliness, especially if made from natural wool materials.
We’ve all been in that situation on a long and especially hot ride when the jersey zipper just gets too much to bear. For those riders with confidence, or who are past the point of caring, they unzip and ride with chest or bra bare to the world. This has multiple negative effects. First, your jersey is flapping along uselessly behind you. Second, as your sweat is blown from your skin it leaves a residue of salt and other minerals that can mix with dirt and dead skin, causing irritation and body odour. And lastly, you are exposed not just to the gaze of onlookers but also to sun, insects and windburn. Wearing a base layer means that you can unzip your jersey on a ride and still be covered where it counts, or, you can remove your jersey completely and just ride in your base layer in comfort.
Natural fibre base layers, like those made from merino wool or yak wool don’t need to be washed frequently, meaning when you pack for a week of riding, you only need to pack one, even if you ride hard all seven days.
A tight fit is best as the fabric hugs your body, giving it more ability to absorb your sweat. Baggy base layers will allow the sweat to trickle down your body and pool in places on the garment making evaporation harder and resulting in less comfort on your ride. If you feel self conscious about wearing tight clothes you can zip your regular jersey on over the top.
Fashion and cycling go hand in hand, we know this. Choosing the right kit and the right combination of attire is something all true roadies revel in. There are so many base layers to choose from that are fashionable, colourful and great looking. Make sure you also choose high quality brands and fabrics so that you know they can take whatever you can dish out in any climate.
Check out Body Torques impressive range of base layer clothing which all come with a quality guarantee.