Words: Raphaëlle Iannitello, Altitude Sports writer
The Art of Layering: Cycle All Season, All Year
Training With Castelli and the Man Taking On the Most Difficult Triathlon in the World, Xavier Jourson.
Real cyclists, and those looking to dive into the wonderful world of cycling, know how quickly summer can fly by. This is especially true when you plan on taking on one of the most difficult challenges in sports. Whether you're getting into top physical shape or looking for a quick shot of adrenaline, starting the season early and ending it late requires the right gear. While your cycling gang is riding stationary in front of a screen, you, who have mastered the art of layering, are preparing to hit the road at the first sign of spring.
For Xavier Jourson, waiting for warmer days is out of the question. Hailing from Lyon, the French national has recently set up camp in Quebec where he’s already preparing for his next challenge. The ex-professional rugby player has his sights set on the ultimate race: the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon. With only 250 athletes selected world wide to participate, Xavier is preparing to take on one of the most demanding triathlons on Earth – which includes acclimatizing himself to the nordic cold. Since the competition will be taking place in the Fjords of Norway, what better way to prepare than by taking on the Canadian cold with the support of Castelli?
But let’s rewind a touch - why make the move from pro rugby to cycling? For Xavier, individual sports that require a lot of endurance offer the type of mental challenge he’s looking for. It requires a different strength of character than you would find in contact sports, and Xavier wanted to see if he was up to the task. After stepping away from competitive sports in 2016, he felt that the boost of energy he got from competing was lacking. He missed the adrenaline that came with it, and he felt that cycling and triathlons were the perfect opportunity to get back into the competitive mindset. But his motivations aren’t just sports-related. Originally from Guadeloupe, Xavier recognizes that triathlon is little-known to the black community, and he hopes that his undertaking will bring awareness to the sport in those communities. In this case, the challenge is more than personal.
Xavier felt a twinge of buyer’s remorse when he bought his bike, which he rides on the roads of Quebec and Norway. He almost felt as though the sport was not meant for him. While looking for training partners, Xavier quickly realized that few people from the black community were cycling. Naturally, going against stereotypes and serving as a source of inspiration became his driving force.
We took advantage of the early arrival of spring to join Xavier at training where he showed us his collection of Castelli essentials.
“From the moment I got on my bike, I knew the importance of choosing the right clothes. Comfort is key when it comes to training, and even more so if you want to enjoy yourself while riding. I took my bike out for the first time one April and I remember how uncomfortable I was. My clothes were either too big, or too tight. I was cold and the seat felt wrong. Luckily, Castelli came to my rescue.”
"With Castelli, I discovered that the right fabric and cut makes all the difference. My Free Aero Race 4 bibshort is my tried-and-true training partner. It keeps me on the bike longer and gets me through intense sessions. The clothes have to fit well to avoid chafing and pressure points. Fabrics need to be stretchy, enhance movement, repel moisture, and allow air to circulate. You should be able to throw on an extra layer without feeling weighed down or constrained. I always wear a Pro Issue base layer under my Avanti jersey. It breathes and vacates sweat, leaving me dry and giving me extra protection against getting cold."
"Castelli has clothing collections that are equally suited to cold weather and scorching temperatures – and everything in between. With the Aria Shell jacket, I have no excuse not to train, even when it's raining and windy. The mesh side panels circulate air and prevent overheating. The sleeves and front panel block the wind. It’s light, compressible - like a second skin, the ideal jacket for early morning or evening spring outings when the weather is still a bit cool."
Shop Xavier Jourson's kit
If, like Xavier, you’re itching to get on your bike in the next few days, it's as simple as wearing the right clothes - the challenging part is knowing how to put them together. Fortunately, Xavier elaborated on the topic.
"The key to a good multi-layer system is to start riding with very little. It gives your body a chance to warm up, to get used to the temperature – of course, the first few minutes can be a little difficult. But the good thing about Castelli's clothing is that it's light and easily compressible, so it takes up little space in the back pockets of my jersey. If I get cold while riding, I can throw on the Avanti jersey over my Pro Issue base layer, or I simply add cuffs and leggings like the Pro Seamless. When everything is running smoothly, I can take them off and stow them in my back pocket."