Winter is upon us once again so here’s an update to my article on my top tips for riding and training during the cold months.
Environment. Know everything you can about the conditions and the environment you’ll be riding in. Cross check weather sources using your apps and the internet. I use WeatherPro but don’t rely it being right all the time.
Wind. Heavy wind won’t just slow you down but can lower the temperature significantly-‘wind chill’. Wind also has a nasty habit of putting debris in the road just where you don’t want it. Watch out in heavily wooded areas and take lots of spare tubes.
Ice. Always check for frost on car windscreens and if in doubt don’t take the risk. Look at the temperature range from your point of departure to your destination. Your destination maybe 2-3 degrees lower than your starting point pushing the temperature below 0. Also watch out for stretches of road next to forests or water which may be colder. Avoid shady parts of the roads which may be prone to ice, frozen leaves and other slippy debris. Watch out for blister studs at cycle crossing which are extremely slippy when wet or frozen.
Winter bike. Think about using a winter bike during the worst months. This is a bike that you can ride in any weather including the wet stuff. Components can get worn down pretty quickly due to the high exposure to water and road grime. Your winter bike will be heavier as well as cheaper so better training.
Tires. Change to winter tires with some good grip levels. And remember to stay off wet manhole covers and painted surfaces. Adjust your lean angle too so you’re more upright. Slow down a bit more and increase braking distance.
Lights. Use 2 sets of lights, one as a back up. If you head to work early and back late you may be riding 100% of the time in dark. Get some reflective elements in your clothing or bike and make yourself as visible as you can on the road.
Cleaning and checking. Increase the frequency of your cleaning and check your bike more regularly. Clear brake blocks of crud and clean wheel rims to maintain a good braking surface. Wipe down and dry off the bike if you’ve ridden through the rain. Learn how to do the bits of maintenance that crop up repeatedly to save on costly servicing when riding in the wet and grime.
Clothing. Buy the best you can afford and that doesn’t buy the most expensive. Check reviews online and ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.
Use Layers. Keep warm by layering up. Each layer traps a warm layer of air beneath it so keep testing how many layers work for you. Make sure your hands are warm. Numb hands lead to poor brake and gear control. . If one pair of gloves isn’t suffice isn’t buy a thermal glove inner. External layers should breathe well to avoid build up of condensation on the inside of the material making you wet.
Hydration. It’s easy to forget to drink regularly when it’s cold. Keep sipping at the water bottle. Write a note and sitck it to your stem to remind yourself.
Incentives. Whether it’s cake or a new accessory think of a way to treat yourself for braving the elements.
Enjoy it!. Some of the best sunrises and sunsets can be seen during the cold months so don’t forget to enjoy the riding.
Stay safe and remember if the conditions aren’t right don’t take the risk and consider supplementing with other training like running, gym or indoor cycle trainer.