“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James
For those of us in northern Europe, it seems that the summer has so far had better things to do than grace us with its warming rays. London’s evening criteriums and the countryside’s weekday time trials, both mainstays of summertime riding, have been ridden by riders wondering why they ever bothered cleaning their chains for such greasy roads. We couldn’t even find meterological respite in the Giro d’Italia, which normally offers a dose of escapism with its sun-swept vistas, but this year mostly gave us images of shivering riders cautiously putting on race capes under heavy skies.
Still, the sun is coming. The world’s biggest race is only weeks away, and with it comes the promise of long rides and blue skies. In preparation for the late-arriving summer, we’ve compiled this guide to dressing for higher temperatures. Summer brings its own unique challenges when it comes to choosing apparel – even short nips across town can turn in to a sweat-drenched inconvenience if wearing the wrong fabrics.
Rapha’s collection of lightweight, season-specific products are designed with fabrics that maximise breathability and moisture transfer, and which are constructed to emphasise both a classic shape and style. Using high-performance materials and ingenious details, these products will keep you cool and comfortable during the hottest days in the saddle.
Lightweight Jersey – Men’s & Women’s
The Rapha Lightweight Jersey is a summertime reworking of the Classic Jersey, using a lightweight merino blend that allows for far more moisture and air transfer than Sportwool™, but keeping the classic style and details of the original. The merino fabric has a soft feel against the skin, and the jersey is finished with functional touches, such as a chin guard, zip guard, and zipped mesh pockets.
Lightweight Bib Shorts
Taking Rapha’s Classic Bib Shorts as their starting point, the Lightweight Bib Shorts have had all extraneous weight removed. The biggest challenge in their development was finding a chamois that was uncompromisingly lightweight, comfortable, and breathable. Unable to find something that met their requirements, the Rapha designers developed a proprietary chamois, using perforations in high-density foam. The bib straps use a lightweight mesh, with a large cutaway in the rear panel, and the main panels of the bibs are constructed from a lightweight and breathable stretch fabric that has undergone a sun-block treatment to protect the skin. The Lightweight Bib Shorts are finished with an accent stripe.
The Lightweight Cap is a great aid to heat regulation, using a polycotton that efficiently wicks sweat away from the head. Stitched eyelets allow air to circulate and are designed to be cooler than their metal counterparts. The cap’s lining features an anti-bacterial tape.
The wrongs socks on a hot ride can itch and irritate the skin – feet sweat and move, creating ‘hot points’ that can be distracting and painful. The Lightweight Socks are designed to prevent this by using a high-wicking open mesh with a soft finish, and flatlock seams to ensure there are no raised points on the sock to chafe against the skin.
The Super-Lightweight Jersey has been designed for one task – to deliver optimum performance on the hottest and most humid rides. To achieve this, Rapha designers opted for proprietary fabrics and mesh panels. A multi-panel structure is used to give the Super-Lightweight Jersey the customary level of shape and support – the rear of the jersey is made up of three shaped panels, and the pockets use a reinforced construction to prevent the jersey being pulled down by stuffed pockets. Lastly, the fabric has an anti-bacterial treatment that prevents odours and discolouration from sweat.
A medium Super-Lightweight Jersey weighs in at only 125 grams, including the full-length front zip, zip guard, and soft cuffs.
Rapha Arm Screens may look like our regular Arm Warmers but they perform a very different job. They protect the skin from the sun on hot days, and aid the body’s temperature regulation. Offering SPF 50 protection, and using the same material as the Pro Team Jersey, the arm screens move sweat away from the skin and keep the worst of the sun’s rays off the skin. The Arm Screens fold down to about half the size of a jersey pocket, making them perfectly portable accessories for long days in the sun.
Hydration is by some margin the biggest challenge on long, hot rides, and any rider with any experience of hot climates can tell you that not taking on enough fluid will curtail your riding faster than any other factor. To help your hydration, Rapha Bidons come in four colourways, have a self-sealing nozzle made from taste-free plastic, and are a 100% leak-proof. A necessity for any cyclist.