Colder weather and slightly harsher riding conditions doesn’t mean you have to hang up your cycling gear. If you’re fully prepared for the winter, then bracing the elements will be much less daunting! Here are our top tips for cycling in the winter… beginning and end of winter to make sure it’s in good nick.
1. Give your bike a winter health check
Check everything is working on your bike and go over your brakes, gears and lights to make sure they’re fully functionable. You should continue to make these checks after every ride in wet conditions. You might also find it better to switch to a tyre with more tread during the winter months. If you’re not totally confident with the ins and outs of your bike, it might be helpful to get a once-over at your local bike shop at the beginning and end of winter to make sure it’s in good nick.
2. Make sure you’re visible
Lighting up your bike is a legal requirement. You must have a front and a rear light, and this is an absolute essential for darker winter mornings and evenings. Bike lights vary from basic blinkers to high performance off-road lamps. It’s a good idea to have a set of small LED back-up lights just incase your main lights fail.
3. Plan routes in advance
Determine your route in advance and make sure you’re aware of any debris so you know the areas to avoid. You should generally take shorter cycling routes in the winter, too. This is incase you run out of energy or just become too cold to continue.
4. Stay warm
You should start your ride feeling warm. Have a hot drink in a warm room just before you step outside. This will allow you to warm-up on the bike more comfortably.
5. Wear the appropriate gear
When you’re riding in the winter, it’s most important that you keep your head, hands, feet and torso warm. Most of your body heat escapes through your head so using a balaclava under your helmet will help keep you warm and insulated. Wear long fingered gloves and thermal socks to keep your feet warm. Depending on just how cold it is, add more layers with a breathable outer jacket that it water and wind resistant.
Mudguards are a must for the winter. The spray that gets kicked up as your ride along can land in your face, water bottle and your back and cause discomfort and annoyance during your cycle, so make sure you’ve invested in some mudguards.
7. Ride with friends
Riding in a group during the winter can be a more enjoyable experience and you can take it turns to shield each other from rain and wind. It’s also much safer and more convenient should someone have a mechanical problem.
8. Insulate your liquids
You might not feel warm on winter rides but you’ll still be sweating and you’ll need to keep hydrated. Get warm from the inside out by bringing along a hot drink or hot soup to sup on when you get really chilly. Invest in a good insulated coffee mug or flask that will keep your liquids hot throughout your cycle.