Many people think of autumn and winter as a time to slow down, put the bike away, and find their next favorite sport to distract them until spring. But for us in the Pacific Northwest, winter is when the season begins. It’s hard to put into words, but this is when the forest really comes alive. What was once dry and pale greenery, is now vibrant and thriving. The dusty dirt returns to loamy goodness, the ferns become lined with perfect droplets of water, and the misty fog rolls through the mountains. Maybe it’s because I grew up here, but the first smell of crisp fall air makes me excited, year after year.
Despite the temperate winters, having the right gear makes a huge difference. For me, it’s not all about keeping every drop of moisture off, but more so having the right layers to remain warm and comfortable while being able to shield yourself from the elements when in need.
A few products are worn and washed on the daily. Starting from the bottom up, the Launch Trail Pants provide a barrier to block mud splashes, while still being breathable and flexible in all conditions. I prefer these to a traditional rain pant shell, as they don’t get sweaty or hinder your full range of motion.
Next up is a Midland LS shirt. This long sleeve is light, but full coverage down the sleeve cuts the wind chill. Depending on the temperature, I like to bring with me the Summit Hooded Thermal Jersey. I’ve yet to get cold in this, and rarely get overheated, even on climbs. It’s one of those pieces that stays warm, even when wet.
Last but not least, tucked into a pocket or fanny pack is always the Summit Pro Barrier Jacket. It’s with me on every ride, yet it’s so light and small I almost forget. This jacket provides a great block from wind and rain for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Apart from riding, fall brings back my other favorite time of year, trail building season. This plus great riding conditions creates a double whammy of awesome. I find myself out in the woods this time of year more than ever, and I can’t get enough of it.
Photos by Oliver Parish @oliverparish159