Interview with Tim Wiggins, Endurance Cyclist

Endurance cyclist Tim Wiggins is the author of Life in the Saddle – one of the country’s top independent cycling blogs. If he’s not busy filling it with news of his latest ride and providing inspiration and advice to the huge number of people in Britain who now love to be on two wheels, then he’s testing the latest cycling products to market. All of that time in the saddle means there’s no one better placed to tell us all about how to care for our cycling kit. We spoke to Tim to find out how Nikwax® and cycling work so well together…

What do you think is the best fabric to wear on a bike?
The real highlight in terms of fabric technology over the last few years has been the introduction of lightweight highly breathable insulating fabrics such as Polartec® Alpha®. Winter/ insulating jackets are no longer big and bulky, but are instead light, portable, and versatile in their temperature comfort zones; the Rapha Flyweight Brevet Jacket is a great example.

Should cyclists look after their cycling clothing in a specific way – what is different about it?
Yes, for sure. Cycling clothing is made of delicate (and expensive) fabrics, which you cannot treat like cottons. Always wash cycling kit on a 30 degree cycle – any hotter and the elastic elements will shrink. As cycle clothing is worn next to the skin, I would use Nikwax BaseWash® to keep my kit clean. Standard detergents can cause garments to retain rather than repel moisture and you can lose necessary fabric breathability, which makes you feel uncomfortable quickly when cycling. BaseWash thoroughly cleans and prevents bacterial build-up, plus garments will dry quickly when in use. Never use standard fabric softeners as these can reduce the effectiveness of shield fabrics. Finally, always hang dry kit rather than tumble dry it.

How do you store your cycling gear at the end of the day?
The first thing is never to store kit dirty. Road salt and damp can ‘eat’ through fabrics, and bacteria can breed in seat pads, encouraging saddle sores. I store jackets and jerseys hung up on an open clothes rail, and store shorts and tights loosely folded in a wardrobe.

Do you have summer and winter specific gear and what is different about it?
Winter cycling clothing is designed to protect and insulate—minimising exposed skin and trapping insulating air in layers of material. Summer cycling clothing is made to breathe and cool—wicking sweat away from your body to leave you cooler and drier.

Do you enjoy cycling in the rain? How do you keep yourself comfortable when the heavens open?
There is an old saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices“, that is very true for cycling in the rain. It can still be a great ride, even if the weather is a challenge. I use a good Gore-Tex waterproof jacket, waterproof gloves, waterproof shoe covers, a waterproof cap, and cycling tights that have been treated with a waterproofing wash, such as Nikwax TX-Direct®. For more advice, look at my ‘7 Tips for Wet Weather Cycling’ post on Life in the Saddle.

What about on hot sunny days – how do you stop yourself overheating and keep your clothing smelling fresh? 
On hot days it is all about wearing lightweight wicking fabrics that take moisture away from your skin, leaving you cool and dry; the fabrics should also protect you from ultraviolet (UV) rays. A cycling cap is a great accessory to act as a shade and a sweatband. To keep your kit clean and fresh, wash it with aftercare such as Nikwax BaseFresh®. It’s a deodorising conditioner that prevents odour build-up and keeps the wicking properties in the fabrics performing. It certainly does the job!

How do you look after cycling equipment like your helmet and glasses in order to keep them in tip top condition?
H
elmet pads, like base layers or cycling shorts, will soon get smelly if you do not wash the bacteria out of them. I rinse my helmet pads and straps in anti-bacterial Nikwax BaseWash once a week in the summer months. Glasses need to be cleaned often to reduce the build-up of dust, squashed bugs and mud. I use a gentle detergent spray like Nikwax Visor Proof, which also helps future spray and dirt to slide off the surface with ease.

What are your cycling goals for this summer?
The last few years my big touring trip each year has been a 3000+ kilometre bikepacking trip on the road – across Europe in multiple directions. This year, I am hoping to complete an off-road bike-packing adventure; self-supported through the mountains somewhere in Europe. Stay tuned to Life in the Saddle to find out!