Racing mountain bikes for 24 Hours takes more than skill and grit. Frequently held in remote locations at higher elevations, you’re bound to endure a wide range of temperatures and conditions throughout the race. It’s helpful to have a strategy for your clothing. I’ll briefly break it down into Layering and Organization.
You’ve invested in rain gear, cold weather gear, the best bibs etc. knowing when to use them can mean the difference between frozen toes and stowing that winter jacket on course due to overheating. Neither scenarios are good. A little bit of practice and planning goes a long way to staying as comfortable as possible. Know thy forecast. Study it well leading up to race day.
Unless it’s too warm (+60), I like to start with a short sleeve base layer underneath my jersey. It helps wick away the moisture and tapers the inevitable chaffing from racing 24 hours straight.
Once the temp drops below 50, I’ll add arm warmers and a wind vest.
Because I did my homework and have a rough idea of what temperatures will be like throughout the day, I’ll usually add a thermal base layer over my jersey and arm warmers when it’s below 45. I then add a thermal jersey and wind vest on top of the thermal base layer. In cases when temperatures aren’t expected to get much below 40, I’ll skip the thermal base layer and opt for just the thermal jersey, continuing with the wind vest as my outer shell.
At this time, I’ll also switch to wool socks and throw on a beanie to retain heat and keep my ears warm.
As long as I keep my core warm, my legs are usually good until below 40, then it’s time to slip on the thermal leg warmers and add my thermal booties (not pictured) into the equation. To keep my transition time to a minimum, I add the booties to a second pair of shoes in advance so they’re ready for a quick change.
It’s below 35 and things are getting real. It’s usually after midnight and the last thing you need is to let the elements control your race. At these temperatures I like to add a thermal jacket over everything else. It’s one size larger, so it will fit comfortably over all other layers. Mine is also water resistant, so it’s good for light rain as well. Anything heavier and I’ll wear a proper rain jacket over the thermal jacket.
It’s time for the thermal tights when it drops below 30. Like my thermal jacket, my thermal tights are one size larger, making it easier to pull them over my bibs and leg warmers. No need to peel things off to put things on.
It goes without saying, that I also have an arsenal of gloves, head gear and footwear that I use depending on conditions.
Here’s a mashup of the still pics.
When it’s 3am and 20 degrees, you don’t want to be fumbling around for those lobster gloves. I use plastic bins to hold all my clothing. A separate bin for gloves, beanies, and clothing. I also have a separate bin for what I call the “kitchen sink” bin. The kitchen sink is for when conditions get really cold and sloppy. Ski goggles, pogies, heavy rain gear, etc. Perhaps the best tip I learned years ago is to use oversized plastic bags for all of my gear placed inside of the bins. I have a separate bag containing the pieces needed for each transition, so that zero thoughts are given when layering. Lastly, I buy a 10 pack of hand warmers from Costco toss one into each of the plastic bags. A very nice luxury to have when battling the elements.