Winter Cycling: Here’s How to Do It
Even for the most keen and motivated rider, cycling year-round in the UK isn’t easy. One moment you’re riding in glorious summer sunshine – and the next you’re bracing yourself against windchill and regretting not taking a third layer…
So, how can we ride comfortably and safely all year round? How do we go into Spring with solid training and base fitness ahead of events like the Dragon Ride in the summer?
Avoid the dreaded ‘cyclists hibernation’ over the upcoming winter months with these tips to keep you toasty (and on top-form):
1. Layer up
Nobody wants to feel cold when they ride, so make sure to wear at least 2-3 ‘light’ layers which you can remove and put in your jersey pocket if necessary. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin. Then an insulating layer for warmth. Your final layer should be a windproof and waterproof outer top or jacket.
Don’t forget to also wear a hat or balaclava under your helmet for those really chilly rides. You should also have a few good pairs of insulating socks and consider overshoes so that your feet don’t get cold.
Finally, gloves are a must for winter cycling and it’s worth investing in a decent pair.
2. Maintain your machine
Your bike might need a little bit more love over the winter months, since the cold weather can be tough on the brakes, gears and tyres. Make sure to check these components over more regularly to ensure they are in a good working order.
For icy conditions, you should also consider fitting your bike with wider, studded tires for better traction.
3. Be visible
As the days get darker earlier, it’s important to stay visible while you’re riding outdoors. Use bright, reflective clothing and accessories, and equip your bike with lights (front and rear) for visibility. It is also more important to ride as a group to ensure that you can be seen by other road users.
4. Avoid getting wet…
It’s important to check the weather before you saddle up in the winter. Cycling in heavy rain can be dangerous, as slick pavements decrease stopping time and you’re likely to feel cold and uncomfortable (probably a bit grumpy too…)
However, even when the skies are dry, spray from wet roads can be tricky to avoid in the winter time. In addition to a waterproof outer layer, we suggest getting fenders and mudguards to help you remain clean and dry on your rides.
5. Train indoors (if you can)
Turbo trainers and pelotons are a great option for those looking to maintain or improve their cycling fitness in winter. An indoor cycling trainer, or a temporary gym membership, can be a worthy investment if you are not comfortable cycling outdoors in the cold.
While these tips can seem obvious, these simple changes can make a big difference to your enjoyment on the bike over the colder months, helping you to remain in and even improve your cycling fitness.
So: stay strong (and warm) cycling squad. Those long days (and post-ride pub garden jaunts) will be back again soon!