Fran lets her legs do the talking up Belgium's notorious Muur van Geraardsbergen

A friend of mine recently entitled her Strava ride “..but the shorts are on at last!” which prompted a conversation. It went something like this.

Me: You went out in shorts?!? {HORROR FACE} It wasn’t that warm today eekk!

Her: Oh yes it’s shorts weather now! I was too hot up top with 2 long sleeves on.

Me: Yes 2 long sleeves would have been too much but it certainly WASN’T shorts weather {laughing face}

Her: But I went out in the afternoon when the sun was shining!

Is there a better feeling than spinning along the lanes feeling the warmth of the sun and breeze against your legs? For me, this brings back memories of childhood, long days spent playing down at the BMX track, always in shorts (I remember this well due to the amount of times my mother smothered my scraped knees with iodine).

This got me thinking, when is it time to get the legs out? Surely simply because the sun is shining isn’t enough. 

Ultimately it's down to you, how fast you are pedaling and how warm you get.

Now there are many different opinions on this and if you ask the local bike club they would debate all day long over numerous lattes and slabs of flapjack. What about you and I, the local gals pedaling along in spring time happy that the daffodils have sprung.?

Pro Rider Rose 'Ozzie' Osborne of Drops Cycling is a fan of the shorts 'n' leg warmers combo

Well for me you need to pay some attention to the weather. It's grand that the sun is out and there isn’t a cloud in the sky but what about the fact it's actually 8 degrees and there is a bitter 15mph wind coming from the Baltic North?

If you went out in shorts in that weather by the time you got home your legs would be red raw and you’d have early onset arthritis (so the experts say – all link). American research has proved that anything less than 15 degrees and you could actually be causing muscle fibre damage to your legs.

Top tip: if you get home and your legs are bright red or blue, you get in the shower and your skin feels like it is burning and itchy, then you got the kit wrong and it wasn’t shorts weather at all.

I like to check the combination of temperature, wind speed and direction before I make my assessment on what to wear. This also involves saying to my boyfriend “what are you wearing?”

It’s interesting watching the professionals, as the Italians and Spaniards will still be in full winter longs when it's 20 degrees but the hardy Belgians will be in shorts. Kit choice is personal but is also down to trial and error and experiences.

Top tip: if you get home and your legs are bright red or blue, you get in the shower and your skin feels like it is burning and itchy, then you got the kit wrong and it wasn’t shorts weather at all.

For research I decided to create a poll on my cycling club face book page. I had the following options, 10, 15, 18, and 20 degrees or when the sun is shining.

The most popular answer was 18 degrees, which seems to go in hand with the earlier American research, although there were a variety of responses including “whenever you want to”.

Top Tips to Make Your Ride Comfier

I asked professional rider Rose Osborne from the Drops Cycling team what her take on it was: “ I am always eager to get the shorts on, got to keep the tan topped up”. Read into that what you will!

So let's cut to the chase. What would I wear? Here's my rough guide:

- Under 10c

Full Roubaix lined winter tights like these:

- 10-15c

Thin tights or ¾ leggings like these:

- 15-18c

Shorts and leg/knee warmers; here are some ideas:

- Over 18c

Get your fancy shorts out; how about these for starters?

This is the thing about cycling kit: it’s about being versatile and able to adapt and change to the weather, especially typical British weather which can take an hour or two to warm up. And let’s face it, generally the weather forecast is hugely inaccurate.

That’s the great thing about leg/knee warmers: if the weather changes and it gets hot, take them off and tuck them into your pocket. Let the legs feel the sunshine and warmth.

Fran leading the field in a cyclocross race - in 3/4s

Ultimately it's down to you, how fast you are pedaling and how warm you get. But never forget this winning response from one lady in my club poll who states it is shorts weather

“when you've bought fake tan and shaved your legs”.

Now spring has sprung, the lambs are in the fields and the sun is peaking from the sky get out and ride in whatever you want, just enjoy it.

Now let us know when you get your legs out, in the comments below!

 

Fran Whyte is VeloVixen's Operations Manager. Aside from being a massively experienced (obsessive?!) cyclist in all kinds of disciplines, she's got an eye for cycling kit like few others.