How to Control the Weather

04.2.2010 | 10:29 am

After work today, The Runner and I are headed to Saint George. We are going there to road bike and mountain bike a lot, and even to run a little bit.

Mostly, though, we are going there because we are sick of wearing tights.

The Anti-Tights Manifesto

It has been a long, cold winter, and I am sick of it (including the fact that it snowed here most of yesterday and continues to flurry today).

Sure, I’ve actually gotten out on my bike quite a bit, but only because I have been willing to layer up. Shorts. Wool base layer. Long sleeve jersey. Jacket. Beanie. Thinsulate gloves under heavy gloves. Wool socks. Neoprene shoe covers.

And, of course, tights.

How I have grown to hate wearing tights.

Oh, I know I shouldn’t. I should be grateful for tights, and the way they make it possible for me to go out riding even when it’s ridiculously cold out. And the truth is, a good modern pair of tights — like my Bontrager RL Windfronts (full disclosure: I paid retail for these at a local bike shop — no blog-related hijynx here) — allow me to even be reasonably comfortable.

But I still hate wearing tights.

Oh, I’m fine with them at the beginning of the winter. I even like the feeling that I’m somehow cheating the winter.

But as the winter drags on, the tights come to represent the defeat of one of the things I love the very most about road cycling: the feeling of flight.

If you love road riding, you know what I mean.

When you’re wearing nothing but shorts, a jersey, and low-cut socks, riding a road bike feels as close to flying as you can while still being on the ground. You’re incredibly light. Your clothes are so thin and close-fitting that they may as well not be there. You feel the wind on your arms, face and legs (one of the top three reasons to shave your legs, by the way).

With tights on, all of that’s gone. You’re warm, sure, but your isolated from the air around you. You’re riding, sure, but every turn of the cranks is just a little more binding, a little less free, than it is in the Summer.

And while the weight gain that comes with tights (and everything else, but I choose to pick on tights) is honestly not all that much, it’s enough. You feel heavier. Sluggish.

It’s better than not being on a bike at all. But if I were to create a spectrum with riding rollers at one end and riding in shorts, no socks, and a sleeveless jersey at the other, riding in tights would be distressingly close to riding the rollers.

So, by this time of the year, if it’s even remotely close to warm enough, I leave the tights off for the ride. Even though my legs immediately feel the painful bite of the wind, I’m glad to feel that bite.

How to Control the Weather

As I believe I’ve mentioned, we’re headed to St. George for the weekend. Through some magic of Utah-ness, this three hour drive practically guarantees a 15-degree-warmer climate.

And I have not packed tights. Nor has The Runner.

We are absolutely committed to a weekend of sun. Of riding in shorts. Sans tights.

It’s April. Time for some warm days.

Tights are not an option.

PS: Next week is Spring Break for my kids. I’m going to take a break from this blog for that week too, to spend more time with them, as well as to hopefully finish a blog-related project I’ve been working on for months. I’ll be back April 12.


  1. Comment by Eunan | 04.2.2010 | 10:54 am

    20.7C in philly today and glorious weekend in store, my tights are relegated to the back of the sock drawer!

  2. Comment by SuomiTri | 04.2.2010 | 10:56 am

    All this talk of tights is making me firsty.

  3. Comment by SuomiTri | 04.2.2010 | 10:57 am

    DAMN IT!

    Well played Eunan. Well played.

  4. Comment by GenghisKhan | 04.2.2010 | 11:05 am

    Spend time with your kids over Spring Break? Well, based on previous comments from uninformed readership, I think we all know the likelihood of that actually happening. Ahem. ;o)

    Enjoy the warmer southern climes.

  5. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 04.2.2010 | 11:25 am

    The simple tick to surviving a Wasatch winter is to put away the bike and break out the skis. No tights involved. Layers, yes. But no tights.

    I’ll be in St.G as well. Maybe we will see you at the In N Out?

  6. Comment by RyanT | 04.2.2010 | 11:27 am

    See you in St George, got a new bike I need to get dirty.

  7. Comment by Nick | 04.2.2010 | 11:37 am

    Curse you for having higher priorities than entertaining me at work. Obviously I, as a loyal yet pretty much anonymous reader, should clearly take precedent over your kids. I feel betrayed. CURSE YOU.

  8. Comment by Joel P. | 04.2.2010 | 11:59 am

    Enjoy your trip, enjoy your week with the kids and I will enjoy 80 degree weather in upstate New York. I am out the door for a tightless ride!
    Joel P.

  9. Comment by Pants Yabbies | 04.2.2010 | 12:02 pm

    Controlling the weather is simple, really, and you don’t need to drive 3+ hours to do it.

    Take out the crappy beater/rain bike and dress for the rain, and it’s guaranteed to be sunny. However, take out the bike that is far too nice even to see an ounce of moisture and wear non-waterproof clothing, and you’re gauranteed at least a drizzle if not a downpour. Oh, and here in California’s Bay Area we banished snow and sub-freezing tempuratures a long time ago.

  10. Comment by Kerri | 04.2.2010 | 12:06 pm

    My husband is in St. George this weekend training with Durapulse (they wear red/black/white). They’ll be riding the full bike course on Sat. He loves your blog. I’ll tell him to keep an eye out for you. Who knows…it can be a small world at times!

  11. Comment by MattC | 04.2.2010 | 12:33 pm

    I am pretty sure tights actually decrease my performance. Seriously. Whether it is purely mental or not I can’t prove, but my legs feel restricted, and I seem to be way more likely to get cramps than during a non-tights ride. I have a few sets, and the thinner ones seem to be less crampy…thus enforcing my thougths that they somehow constrict the blood flow to some small degree, and on a long ride I am almost guaranteed to cramp in the quads/calfs. And even though I live in Central Coast of CA, winter is tights time for us too…and still is it seems. My ride tomorrow will be in the low 50’s(F) when I depart…thats even a bit too chilly for just toe-warmers, but I HATE full booties and will just suffer till it warms a bit on the road.

    I’d imagine there is some kind of a chart/graph that shows that the colder your climate, the lower the temps can be before you wear cold weax gear.

    And I echo Nick’s comment…CURSE YOU! What ever am I to do next week for entertainment? Oh..wait…I’m at work..thats right. Curse THAT! Gonna get real busy next week too…so..turns out you have perfect timing Fatty! Never mind my curse. Enjoy St. George…get some sun. Enjoy!

  12. Comment by cyclingeurope | 04.2.2010 | 12:46 pm

    Enjoy your weekend, and may you be blessed with tightless weather! People from Vail usually migrate to Utah (read: Moab) to get more sun and warmth in April, so sounds like you guys have had much the same chilly weather we have (although we did have a short streak of 70’s)! :o I hope to get a Moab w/e in once our mountain closes in 2 weeks.

  13. Comment by Dave | 04.2.2010 | 2:07 pm

    It’s been in the 70’s here in Houston for a while, but we have no hills. No place is perfect. Enjoy your your family and your weekend.

  14. Comment by Chuck | 04.2.2010 | 3:38 pm

    Elden, it’s cold but sunny today. It finally stopped snowing yesterday… after 34 hours of snow. I am sure you know, it seems the mountains got a little more than down in SLC. Enjoy the sunny (warm) trails in STG. IMSG is coming fast, train hard.

  15. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 04.2.2010 | 3:38 pm

    Currently 38 and pouring in my little hamlet outside of Seattle – good news is that Stevens Pass may get over a foot of snow tonight. Ski season ain’t over yet! crappy wet snow, but plenty of it!

  16. Comment by Loving the Bike | 04.2.2010 | 4:58 pm

    I already knew you were the cycling blog King, but I didn’t know you also possessed the power to control the weather. Maybe I should change that title to Emperor or Wizard or something.

    Thanks for providing us with all this great spring cycling weather.


  17. Comment by deepbrook | 04.2.2010 | 6:17 pm

    What are the other 2 reasons for shaving one’s (male) legs?

  18. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 04.2.2010 | 6:36 pm

    26 and Sunny on Southern Ontario today. It was AWESOME!!

  19. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 04.2.2010 | 6:47 pm

    I know what you mean! I have been able to get out running and biking in shorts on a few unseasonably warm days this week. I actually have the faintest hint of a tan line on my thighs. I actually absorbed some vitamin D that didn’t come from food. I love it.

  20. Comment by Zed | 04.2.2010 | 7:43 pm

    Long, cold winter? Dude, please. This has been the shortest, easiest winter I’ve had since living here. My neighbor only used his four wheeler to bull-doze my driveway once this year.

  21. Comment by Derek | 04.2.2010 | 8:37 pm

    Enjoy the no tights. Its gotten warm here in NC, even up in the 80’s the past few days, so my last several rides have been sans tights and its awesome!!

    Enjoy the spring break!

    (ps- the link to your article to sucking in your gut was great. The rolling the shoulders forward instead of the guiness guys say..BRILLIANT!! Thanks!

  22. Comment by Gomez | 04.2.2010 | 9:54 pm

    > as a loyal yet pretty much anonymous reader, should
    > clearly take precedent over your kids

    Dude, you signed your post, ‘Nick’! That’s not anonymous, it narrows you down to like only a million americans. If, that is, you are american…
    and told the truth, ‘Nick’…

  23. Comment by Anonymous | 04.2.2010 | 9:56 pm

    Whoops, I accidentally signed my previous post as ‘Gomez’, which I am, of course, not. So just ignore that.

  24. Comment by Miles Archer | 04.2.2010 | 10:03 pm

    Yo Pants Yabbies,

    There was snow on top of Diablo today and while walking to Bart yesterday, I saw a couple of cyclists in full winter gear. ;-)

    I will hopefully be riding tomorrow. No tights, but maybe rain gear.

  25. Comment by Steve | 04.2.2010 | 11:00 pm

    Someone once quipped, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it!” Well, some of us did, we moved to San Diego! :-)

  26. Comment by Shiny Flu | 04.3.2010 | 2:29 am

    I know what you mean! Went on a ride yesterday (although it is sunny here, it’s still not warm with arctic winds blowing down) and thought about just knee warmers (I know you think they’re stupid, but they are a good compromise!)… anyway too cold so tights it was.

    Anyway, happy easter and spring break like it’s 1987!

  27. Comment by Dylan | 04.3.2010 | 7:34 am

    Dude – Sleeveless with no socks? You may as well wish for the inability to hold a line or remain upright. I think you’re spending too much time thinking about triathlons.

  28. Comment by Greg @ Greg Rides Trails | 04.3.2010 | 12:17 pm

    Have fun in the warmer climate! I totally agree with the thoughts about the free feeling of sleeveless jerseys and shorts… especially when the temperature is just right, so that you’re barely breaking a sweat, but still feel perfectly comfortable without any excess layers.

    Flying? Oh yes!

  29. Comment by Flat Foot Sam | 04.3.2010 | 12:40 pm

    I hate tights too, so as long as its over 45° (and not raining) you’ll see me in shorts. At 50° the arm warmers come off.

  30. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 04.3.2010 | 4:49 pm

    Hope you guys find the sun in St. George!

  31. Comment by SkiMoab | 04.3.2010 | 7:12 pm

    I’ll tell you how to control the weather, get both your road bike and mtn bike tuned and ready to go at the same time. I picked both of mine up on Tuesday, just as the high winds hit and the storm rolled in for the last 4 days.

  32. Comment by Alice | 04.3.2010 | 9:52 pm

    Hey- come on up to New England – it was 80 degrees here in southern New Hampshire! I got a nice 40 mile ride in & even needed ice in my camelback (first time this year)


  33. Comment by Sean | 04.4.2010 | 4:58 am

    A French Cycling Federation top coach once warned that coaches should advise riders NEVER to ride out in other than warm weather with arms or legs uncovered.
    He pointed out that we all have a protective layer of fat just beneath the skin.This keeps the body warm.
    If you ride out unprotected in the cold the body says “ouch” and says it better increase it.s protection.So the layer increases and you get fatter.
    I often wondered if all those young ladies going around
    with exposed midriffs in all weathers had any idea that they were probably adding inches to their waistlines.

  34. Comment by Doug (Way up State NY) | 04.4.2010 | 5:15 am

    We went riding yesterday in the Adirondack mountains. It was 84 degrees (almost +40 above our normal). It was HOT. While I was happy to get out of my tights, that was a crazy ride. April 3, some snow on the ground, and 80+ on the thermometer.

    Course it was really nice to get a long one under the belt before riding to No Where!

  35. Comment by Charisa | 04.4.2010 | 12:38 pm

    Enjoy St. George!

  36. Comment by Lyn | 04.4.2010 | 6:18 pm

    But if you *must* wear tights, they really should be sparkly pink. Just for the fun effects.

  37. Comment by Heidi | 04.4.2010 | 7:16 pm

    Superman wore tights and you didn’t hear him complain…

  38. Comment by Richard | 04.4.2010 | 10:36 pm

    Here in Oztralia I have been looking forward to getting the warm gear out. I quite like the feel of my compression tights (not in that way you degenetate). That’s what happens when you hang upside down – all the blood rushes to the brain.

  39. Comment by mandy | 04.5.2010 | 7:32 am

    the worst part about spring in VT is that you get wonderful warm days when you can ride without tights, followed by cold, grey, tights-mandatory rides. Once your legs have felt the freedom of going tights-less, it’s so difficult to have to layer up again.

  40. Comment by mainiac_rager | 04.5.2010 | 8:28 am

    Baggies and leg hair are the new tights.

  41. Comment by MattC | 04.5.2010 | 10:19 am

    Man oh MAN April 12th is a long ways off…now what are we supposed to do?

    Fatty, this thing about you having a life really cramps my style.

    Folks, I say we pay him back for OUR suffering. Make him wade thru like a ZILLION comments when he returns. Post UP! Let-er-rip!

  42. Comment by Frank | 04.5.2010 | 10:28 am

    This weekend, I had the choice between moving heavy things from House A to Apartment B, or to go on a trip to Maryland in time to enjoy the blooming cherry trees in 75° weather. Guess what I’ve picked… The only downside was that it didn’t include cycling.

    I hope the Runner and you enjoyed the weekend.

  43. Comment by Kiki | 04.5.2010 | 11:12 am

    Wait, I must have read incorrectly. You went mountain biking 4 weeks out from Ironman? Now we know for sure you aren’t a ’serious’ triathalete! I hope you strapped on some aero bars a bento box for muscle memory;)- and god forbid if you held your line, that would really ruin your tri skills.

  44. Comment by Nick | 04.5.2010 | 11:27 am

    Gomez, I can’t believe you would question my patriotism. I am a Great American. Now you can totally narrow down my identity…

  45. Comment by Charlie | 04.5.2010 | 6:00 pm

    You are about to learn how to control the weather – the wrong way! You know that the only way to keep it from raining is to carry an umbrella, right? Same thing with cold weather. Pack all of your warm clothes, including tights. Prepare to wear them. Then when you wake up and it’s nice and warm, you can say “just kidding”…

  46. Comment by Rob | 04.5.2010 | 7:32 pm

    The trick is to think and feel EPIC. It’s cold out? You’re riding? You’re layered up, cold, warm, sweaty and wet from rain all at once? EPIC.
    In fact, I think EPIC rides are 90% more likely during tights weather. Just think EPIC.

  47. Comment by johnv | 04.5.2010 | 8:59 pm

    Hey fatty,

    I feel the rare compulsion to take issue with you. And please don’t argue that your comments are subjective and therefore unarguable.

    You failed to adequately capture the range of cycling events when you placed rollers on the low end. While I’ve never actually ridden rollers, I’m certain that far lower on the scale of bicycling satisfaction is “spinning.” I know that spinning is far worse than rollers because cycling in tights is infinitely superior to spinning.

    Yet, despite this woeful oversight, I will continue to occasionally review your “often better than merely tedious” blog in hopes of more wonderful life revelations.

    Have a wonderful break.

  48. Comment by Mike Roadie | 04.6.2010 | 5:36 am

    Two words…………..Florida!

    Enjoy the week!

  49. Comment by MattC | 04.6.2010 | 10:24 am

    @ MikeRoadie….sure, it’s warm and all, but isn’t your idea of a ‘big climb’ going up an overpass? And what about all those Land-Yachts being driven by, well, not to ’senior bash’, but people who don’t necessarily have the sharpest vision on the block? Either going way too slow or way too fast it seems. I spend some time in the Cocoa Beach area off and on, and I’d be in total fear for my life riding a road bike out there. It’s scary enough in my rental car! And it’s not just the L.Y.’s…in many cases I think it was the frantic individuals trying to get AROUND them. I’ve seen people swoop up on the sidewalk at speed to get by…pedestrians literally running for their lives.

    I guess every place you go has it’s plusses and minuses. Florida-Sunny and warm: check. Big brutal cimbs: not-A. Fear for your life quotient: CHECKCHECHECK. Hmmm….think I’ll keep looking for that magical place!

  50. Comment by RoboHOff | 04.6.2010 | 10:51 am

    I too left the tights behind and spent time in St. George this weekend. I did a 20 mile solo road ride on Saturday and a 40 mile road ride with my lovely wife on Sunday. We took Old Hwy 91, went through Gunlock and did “The Wall”. It was beautiful! The only downside was the wind on the way back. Fatty, I look forward to a recap of the rides you did down there. Have a great week with the kids!

  51. Comment by Jenn | 04.7.2010 | 8:43 am

    @mattc – the perfect place? Germany. And you deserve that rubbed in a little bit for your previous “I can eat whatever I want” comments. ;o)

  52. Comment by Flat Foot Sam | 04.7.2010 | 10:13 am

    Sean, that amusing theory of weight gain proves once again that coaches often haven’t a clue what they’re talking about. It reminds me of another top cycling coach (Borysewicz?) who used to warn that riding too hard in November would “burst capillaries” in your legs and thus ruin your season (which is completely false). I suspect some coaches just make up plausible-sounding theories to scare their athletes into following their programs.

  53. Comment by Haven (KT) | 04.7.2010 | 11:38 am

    I know how to control the weather– move large, heavy, non-waterproof items from one house to another. Dressers, oak bed frames, mattresses, couch and chairs, tables, TV, speakers…. you know what I mean.

    You’ll have nice weather while you are in the house but as soon as you step outside carrying something heavy, it will start to rain. Nice.

    Have fun in St George– what’s spring break?? Us accountants don’t get one.

  54. Comment by MattC | 04.7.2010 | 12:33 pm

    @ Jenn…so Germany is the perfect place?? Hmmm….I hear they have GREAT food over there…and TASTY beer! MMMMMMMM!

    And as much as I can eat, too…(which is rather substantial I’ll let you know!) I figure everybody has something they are good at…I’d never really thought about it before, but apparently I DO have a superpower! It’s eating! (and pooping..but thats a litle bit TMI probably)

  55. Comment by MattC | 04.7.2010 | 12:46 pm

    Oh, and hey…I see Fattys ad on the side still shows “Garmin Slipstream”…aren’t they “Garmin Transitions” now?? (and speaking of Garmin…Tyler Fararr took 5th in the Tour of Flanders…AWESOME result for him and the team!) I will take it up on myself to make a ‘to do’ list for Fatty when he gets back (cuz thats the kind of guy I am…a giver). He still also needs to add the 4 LIVESTRONG Team links (with total $ raised to date) to his site like last year. Anything else I should put on his list?

  56. Comment by Jenn | 04.9.2010 | 12:32 am

    @MattC, Fatty would be so proud that we’re able to entertain ourselves in his absence! LOL!! The food and beer here are primary motivators to get out and ride, for those of us who are not blessed with a bird metabolism.

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  58. Comment by MattC | 04.9.2010 | 8:15 am

    Jenn…I figure it’s our duty to entertain ourselves while Fatty takes a break.

    Bird metabolism….hmmmm…thats pretty accurate…I think I have a human version of a ‘hummingbird’ metabolism…my onboard reserves will last me approx. 17 minutes…so it’s always quite important that I bring enough food on rides to get me home. I don’t bonk often, but when I do, it’s the mother of all bonks. And like hummingbirds, I don’t do ‘fake’ (ie: zero cal) stuff…I use only the good stuff: pure rocketfuel! LOTS of carbs (donuts, muffins, bagels SLATHERED w/ cream cheese, and beer…and I don’t mean Michelob Ultra (sorry Lance)…I’m talkin’ REAL English/European/German stuff…the darker the better…mmmmmmm! Oh…and Pizza…don’t forget PIZZA! Lots and lots of pizza! Dang….now I’m hungry again.

  59. Comment by deepbrook | 04.9.2010 | 10:36 am

    What are the odds that Fatty and Bike Snob NYC take the SAME week off?

  60. Comment by GJ Jackie | 04.9.2010 | 9:52 pm

    In lieu of a fatty post, I thought I’d take a minute to ask all of you who visit the Colorado/Utah desert to work hard to keep single track single. Out here your off-trail bike tracks remain for decades.

    Check out:

  61. Comment by buckythedonkey | 04.10.2010 | 4:58 am

    Is this Noodle of 100MoN video note?

  62. Comment by christine | 04.11.2010 | 10:57 am

    ^ yup, if you go to her website, her 100 MoN video is posted. amazing stuff!

  63. Comment by Not a Cyclist.......ok, maybe a little | 04.11.2010 | 7:33 pm

    It was in the upper 70’s in the DC area today, sunny, dry, just beautiful. Yet I saw many people in full length tights and long sleeved jerseys riding along the W&OD trail. I cannot fathom why anyone would torture themselves this way; perhaps it’s a fad? Perhaps they started out really early in the morning when it was still cold and “forgot” that it gets warmer during the day? We can only wonder.

    BTW, not a single person commented on my Fat Cyclist jersey!

  64. Comment by Gomez | 04.11.2010 | 11:37 pm

    > Gomez, I can’t believe you would question my patriotism. I am a Great American. Now you can totally narrow down my identity…

    Great American…AH HAH!! You, Nick, are clearly a Bald Eagle. What confuses me is, that although I don’t doubt you can type, I would expect that you keep attacking and eating the mouse.

    (my wife says this is ‘just silly’, and points out that you have a day job).

  65. Comment by Anonymous, really | 04.11.2010 | 11:37 pm

    oooh, that wasn’t Gomez either. Disregard.

  66. Comment by JULIO | 05.22.2010 | 8:06 pm




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