When the weather outside is frightful, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to get out on your bike. But, cycling in winter can be both beautiful and keeps your fitness up for those summer rides. So, here are some simple tips to keep cycling through the coldest months.
Get The Right Winter Cycling Gear
Riding in winter can really take its toll, so you’re going to want to get the right gear to look after both you and your bike. There are lots of websites and stores like BikeParts that offer a whole range of products to help prepare your bike for winter. Here are the three most important things.
Winter months mean less daylight, so lights are essential for staying visible. You need to get good quality, bright lights for both the front and back of the bike. Also, make sure that the front light is bright enough for you to see the road ahead, and consider investing in a head torch or helmet light as well, to make sure that you can see where you’re going.
High visibility clothing is also important, to make sure drivers can see you in their headlights. And, if you’re lights are battery powered, don’t forget spares in case they run out of juice before you get home.
Do Your Best to Stay Dry
Winter means wet and muddy roads. So, if you don’t have good mudguards, you’ll be enduring a shower of cold, wet sludge for your entire ride. As well as being incredibly uncomfortable, this can be dangerous for both you and other riders. Mud or debris thrown up by your wheels can hit you or others in the face. If this gets into people’s eyes, you are asking for trouble.
Quality Winter Bike Tires
Wet roads don’t just throw up mud, they’re also slippy and riddled with stones and debris that have been churned up by traffic. This can play havoc with your tires, with punctures a common occurrence at this time of year.
This means that good tires are a must, they’ll help keep you on the road with good grip and good endurance. But, you’ll need to be prepared to repair or swap tires at some point. Also, consider a puncture repair kit and pump as an absolute must-have on any winter ride.
Make Sure to Stay Warm
The right clothes are probably not something you normally have to worry about when you’re riding, because you’re working so hard you end up overheating! But, obviously, in the winter you need to be careful about getting too cold. Cold muscles are much more likely to get injured, and cold arms and legs might not do what you tell them to, increasing the chances of having an accident.
So, you’re going to need to get your clothing right. You might be tempted to throw on jumpers or fleeces, but these will only make you sweat. If you sweat, you end up colder because the sweat conducts all the heat away from your body. This is particularly bad on hilly rides because you’ll sweat all the way up the hill, as you work really hard. Then, as you descend, the wind will be bitingly cold and will cut right through any sweaty clothes.
This means that you should go for cycling specific winter gear: base layers, arm and leg warmers and a gilet or even a windproof softshell jacket. When choosing cycling gear, opt for a breathable one, so you won’t sweat and it’ll also be comfortable.
Another important part of staying warm while in the saddle is eating and drinking. If you let yourself get hungry, then you’re core temperature will drop pretty fast. The same goes for getting dehydrated.
Never Go Cycling Hungry
This means that you need to take food with you on a ride. Also, be warned, energy bars can get pretty solid and unchewable if they get too cold, so make sure to keep them somewhere warm, like a body pouch or pocket!
When your body is cold, you will burn through energy faster, because you are expending calories just to stay warm. This means that you should plan accordingly, and eat a good amount of food before setting off. Do not ride on an empty stomach in winter, you will certainly regret it!
Huge thanks to Paul East from BikeParts.co.uk.