Even in a skinsuit. Even when tempted in hot weather to leave it home, I always wear at least a sleeveless light baselayer between me and my jersey. Why? Because if I crash, I know that the material of the two garments will slide against each other as I slide down the road, hopefully saving my skin from painful road rash. Ever see a pro rider in a race after a high-speed crash, riding down the road with a half-melted skinsuit and huge patches of raw red skin where it just scraped off him? Ouch. I'd like to avoid that if possible, even if it means I'm a bit warmer than I'd like to be.
This summer I crashed at nearly 50km/h on a bumpy road during a road race.
This is what my jersey looked like after the crash.
My baselayer had a small hole in it underneath. My back was absolutely fine.
Knee, elbow and hip were different stories though. Which got me thinking again, why aren't cycling shorts reinforced at the hip and buttock -- the most common places to crash and rip -- with some kind of thin kevlar? Or at the very least a second layer of lycra material so that impact with the road would see the layers sliding against each other rather than the single layer sliding against one's skin? Hmm... I must not be the first person to think of this.
My helmet looked like this by the way.
That dent in the left side came from another rider crashing into me, not from hitting the ground. Helmets are mandatory in road racing around here and you won't catch me going without one on my race bike either solo or on the group ride anyway. I once crashed at about 5km/h on a easy-paced club run and spun around to hit the ground with the back of my head. Helmet compressed and smashed, me with a bad headache. Would have been a lot worse if I hadn't had one.
Both helmets were sent off to be replaced with new ones for half the cost on the helmet manufacturer's crash replacement policy. Shame that the one this summer was only one day old! (yes, really... it had literally arrived the day before and had been ridden for about 2 hours before its untimely demise).
I always wear a baselayer.