Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

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Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby elStado » Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:32 pm

Hi all,

I am planning to do a cycle tour around northern Europe and Scandinavia during June-July next year (northern Germany, Denmark, southern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia) (also considering doing France and Germany during April-May). I'll be covering around 60-70km a day, 4-5 days a week, for about 6 weeks riding on a leather saddle (most likely a Brooks B17 or Flyer). Not quite sure what I should be looking at as far as cycle clothing goes, after reading a number of touring journals, forums etc there seems to be a mix between people who wear casual/normal clothing, disguised/low impact (shy/baggy shorts with padded liner and technical t-shirts/casual jerseys) or full cycling kit (cycle nicks/bib and jersey).

Temps will be mild, with around ~20 degrees Celsius average during the days, and around ~10 degrees at night. Fairly warm as far as this region goes, but still quite cool for a guy who grew up in northern WA which has 'winters' with 30 degree days and 15 degree nights. Ideally I would be looking for something that is comfortable, breathable, wicks away sweat, doesn't get smelly (less to carry and don't have to wash daily).

My thinking is the 'stealth' cycling apparel approach; to wear baggy/touring cycling shorts (e.g. Ground Effect SuperTankers or Juggernauts, or Rapha Touring Shorts) with a padded mesh underliner (e.g. Ground Effect Underdogs or Rapha Merino Boxers) and couple that with a long sleeve cycle jersey, using quality material such as Merino wool as much as possible (e.g. Ground Effect Berglar or Submerino).

Hopefully with this approach I should be able to get away with 1x (or maybe 2x) shorts, 2x underliner and 2x top. Combine this with a quality waterproof cycling jacket (still researching this; shortlisting Ground Effect and Showers Pass options) and I should be good for most weather conditions whilst keeping baggage load minimal and also looking respectable enough to be able to stop off at the shops/store without looking like a cyclist or a vagrant.

Not really sure if the Rapha shorts are worth the extra? The Ground Effect baggy shorts seem pretty decent feature/performance-wise and are a little cheaper. However on the other hand the Rapha shorts are a little more fashionable, and I know that they are quality as I own a pair of Rapha trousers. Both shorts are synthetic (Nylon) based. Or I could just wear some regular cotton shorts and combine it with some padded underliner for comfort in the saddle. Also with the underliner, I own a pair of the Rapha Merino boxers as they are very well designed and comfortable. I haven't owned the Ground Effect Underdogs, which are slightly cheaper than the Rapha alternative, but they are not made of Merino wool. Might be worth the few $$ extra for Merino over Lycra.

Thoughts? What do you wear on longer tours in mild climates?
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by BNA » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:11 am

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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby RonK » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:11 am

elStado wrote:Hopefully with this approach I should be able to get away with 1x (or maybe 2x) shorts, 2x underliner and 2x top. Combine this with a quality waterproof cycling jacket (still researching this; shortlisting Ground Effect and Showers Pass options) and I should be good for most weather conditions whilst keeping baggage load minimal and also looking respectable enough to be able to stop off at the shops/store without looking like a cyclist or a vagrant.


On my last tour I took 3x each item, but if you go with the the baggies then 1 pair of shorts, 3 liners, three jerseys and three pairs of socks would do. My rationale was that between laundry days there would be one dirty set in the laundry bag, one set I was wearing, and a reserve set in case I couldn't wash or dry them. For versatility take arm and leg warmers, finger gloves, and a windproof gilet in addition to your jacket, and consider a pair of Rainlegs. I took only one pair of shoes - Northwave Expedition GTX, and a pair of rubber thongs to wear in showers.

For street wear take a pair of convertible pants (i.e. with zip-off legs) with a merino polo shirt, a micro-fleece jumper (to fit under your rain jacket), a pair of lightweight shorts and a tee shirt, and three pairs of merino boxers from your local hiking/camping store.
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby grw » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:05 pm

elStado wrote:Temps will be mild, with around ~20 degrees Celsius average during the days, and around ~10 degrees at nigh


Might be quite a variation around that. In Norway in June (admittedly northern Norway) on a few occasions on a tour I wore a down jacket under 3 layer goretex while riding. Just saying, it can get pretty cold. I don't know what the temp was but it felt pretty chilly to me!
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby elStado » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:40 pm

grw wrote:Might be quite a variation around that. In Norway in June (admittedly northern Norway) on a few occasions on a tour I wore a down jacket under 3 layer goretex while riding. Just saying, it can get pretty cold. I don't know what the temp was but it felt pretty chilly to me!
grw


Yeah cool (pun intended). I was just going off monthly averages.. so it seems plausible that there will be a few colder days over a 6 week tour.

I'll hope for sunny and mild days, and I'll prepare for cloudy, windy cold days just in case!

I'm still gonna bring some board shorts so I can go for a swim in the Baltic. 8)
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby BeerRider » Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:28 am

I did a tour around Belgium, Netherlands and France last year in September and the average temperatures are only about 2c less than when you are planning on going. I rode with 2 pairs of padded bike shorts, 4 t-shirts, 1 pair of jeans and 2 t-shirts for going out. I also took a snowgum eco fleece jacket for the evenings which I used to wrap the netbook in to, when in the panniers. The jacket that I wore when riding was one of these. I would highly recommend it. It's wind proof on the front, but allows moisture to evaporate at the back. I usually wore this in the morning when starting off and then took it off within an hour as I was easily warm enough by then. I also took a Gortex rain jacket, which I only needed for about 3 hours over 2 days, out of 12. No-one really cared around there that you would turn up to a cafe or restaurant in bike shorts and shoes for lunch or dinner.

One thing about northern Europe in the summer is midgies!! I don't know how high or low they go, but if you go to Northern Sweden/Norway, you may come across them. In Scotland, some people swear by Avon mosquito repellant. I couldn't find it, so it may be wise to take some aeroguard with you.

I hope this helps.
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby Meditator » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:42 pm

Three pairs of woollen boxers is really crazy. Take one, max two. You wont be wearing them every day anyway.
Do your washing (of non woolens daily). Wool gera can be worn more than one day before washing.

One max two bike shorts.

Socks for riding and socks for bed.
long johns and wool thermal for bed

Don't forget a beanie and i would say a balaclava is an even better idea. I always wear mine in bed on tour when its cold.

Rather than look at average temperatures look at maxim and minimum daily temperatures.

Also when you are at the top of some hills, it will be a lot colder and windier and the temp records are probably not from up in such places.

It will rain and then it will be very cold. I remember one stretch high up in a very remote feeing landscape. It felt very wintery indeed. Another traveller made us a cup of hot tea by the side of the road just to stop and say hello with someone. Despite the weather , it was nice to have an excuse to stop and just be in this strange place.

I'm talking about clothes for NOrway where i travelled in June many years ago on a motorbike. We had a very mild time of it. Went up to the arctic circle. Every day i wore a synthetic crotched beanie under my helmet, a leather jacket over my synthetic cardigan and probably something else under that - cotton or blend tshirt i think, denim jeans, and wool socks in my boots and sheepskin gloves.

Make sure you have full fingered gloves.

Have a 3 season sleeping bag.
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby elStado » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:28 pm

Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to bring enough clothes to handle a variety of conditions.
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby il padrone » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:41 am

Some valuable comment on the Thorn Forums.

It's beautiful, uncrowded, unpolluted and easy to get close to nature.
Go equipped for cold rain :think Scottish highlands and sleet in summer and old snow on high ground in May etc.
You can camp almost anywhere within reason.
People generally have a positive atitude to Brits and most speak some English.
Beware tunnels under fjords as some of these have steep descents and climbs and can be a bit fume laden.
Have a good trip
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby waramatt » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:08 am

I was in Northern Europe in May-June 2010, though I didn't cycle. We went as far north as Helsinki, Tallinn and St Petersburg. When we arrived in London in the first week of May the nightly minimum was 0-2 degrees, and maximum 7 to 10. I was running each morning and wore skins and long sleeve compression tops.

I cycled in NZ's South Island in December 2011, and was doing 60-70 km most days. The weather was very similar to the year's before Northern European late spring. Early morning temps were 3-4 degrees, rising to 21-22. I wore padded undershorts under a pair of RonHill classic tracksters that I picked up on wiggle for $20 a pair.
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/ronhill-classic-tracksters/

What I liked about them was that they were lightweight, loose fitting but not flappy in the wind, straight leg with little straps under the sole of my feet that stopped them riding up. They didn't get too hot, and didn't freak out the non-cyclists when I climbed off the bike to go into a cafe or shop. :lol:

I also wore a lyrca under-helmet beanie for the first hour of each day's ride. I wore a long sleeve compression top under a short sleeve jersey.

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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby elStado » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:50 pm

Well looks like if I will be going it will be around August as I won't be able to get leave off until after July. Had a look at weather averages and I am looking at lows of around 3-5 degrees and days of 18-20 degrees which is still pretty mild, but cool enough to justify bringing some waterproof and warm clothes (especially if it is raining or there's a cold spell). I've bookmarked those classic tracksters and will keep them in mind. The main reason I want to go up north is that I want to see the last remaining areas of non-developed European countryside. I remember last time I went to Germany I was a bit disappointed to find that pretty much 99.8% of the land was developed. No matter where you went there were people, buildings, roads etc. Even the small patches of forest had houses all around them. I want to get away from all the people and get into the natural environment (sounds a bit strange saying this considering how much open space we have here in Oz..).
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Re: Clothing for cycle touring Northern Europe in Summer

Postby elStado » Tue May 08, 2012 5:31 pm

Plans have changed slightly. I'll be leaving late July to Europe and starting my tour in late August. I have less time off than I expected, so will be ending the tour and returning to Australia on the 2nd or 3rd week of September.

I'd still like to go to Scandinavia. Thinking of getting the train up to Copenhagen or Hamburg, and then heading up to Norway via Sweden and back.

Given that it is late summer/early autumn it will be reasonably cool. I am expecting temps to range from 2-6 degrees C at night to 15-17 degrees during the day. Of course there will be slightly warmer and cooler days that I will have to accommodate too, as well as the rain which is common in the region at this time of year.

I have a few LS jerseys (2x synthetic Ground Effect Zip Tie and 2x Oregon cycle wear merino wool jerseys) to wear and a good jacket (Showers Pass Elite 2.0). However I am still unsure about shorts/bottoms as I find my Brooks saddle to be very comfortable wearing regular cotton briefs, even for longer rides. I am wary of being caught up in marketing spin and thinking that I can only be comfortable if I buy the latest and greatest of technical cycle wear, rather than just wearing normal clothes.

I might look at getting a pair of those Ronhill Classic Tracksters just to has as a backup for cooler days/nights when I need some extra cover. Pretty cheap option. I've also been looking at a pair of these (or similar) for cooler days: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-pace-roubai ... bib-tight/ or http://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-pace-roubai ... bib-tight/ . I need to sort out what I will be wearing soon.
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