I hate winter, I don’t like autumn and I’m not a huge fan of the cold… but that said, I love riding my bike more than I hate all that. If I’m not riding through winter then I tend to get a bit grumpy. I’ve put together a few of my top tips and tricks to help keep those legs spinning over the colder months.
Mudguards (fenders to our friends over the pond)
Just put mudguards on your bike and thank me later. You might think they don’t look “cool” or that they add a bit of weight, but I’ll take being dry and warm any day!
Mudguards themselves come in all shapes and sizes; whatever your riding style there will be a friendly mudguard willing to help. I’ve opted for our strong light chromoplastic full-length mudguards on my Bristol bicycle. The silver finish and classic looks finish the bike nicely, also keeping me dry throughout the year. I’ve fully winterised my road bike with metal Kenisis fend-off mudguards. Full-length metal mudguards are super stiff and durable but maybe a little heavier (I just liked how they looked, to be honest). No excuses, the first step to winter riding has to be mudguards. For your sake, for the sake of your bike, and for the sake of whoever you’re riding with… fender up!
Hands and feet
making your body warm is easy (ish) – some good layering and you’re done. Hands and feet are where winter hits the most. I’m a recent convert to overshoes… they can make a simple bike ride look like a deep-sea diving expedition, but they will leave you toasty and warm all day long. I’ve previously wrapped tin foil around my toes as an attempt to warm things up, but nothing beats a nice pair of thick merino wool socks and overshoes. Hands are obvious… gloves. It can be a bit of trial and error when trying to find what gloves work for you, but keeping those hands warm will make everything a little bit easier.
Coffee (or tea)… and maybe cake
Take it easy – if you know you have a stop lined up mid-ride or maybe a few dotted throughout the day it will make motivating yourself that little bit easier. Nothing beats a cold day’s coffee stop for a refuel and warm up. Perhaps you could really push the boat out and bring a flask with you, Stopping mid-ride in the cold, crisp countryside with a flask of your choice… sounds like the perfect Sunday pootle. It’s even better when you turn up warm and dry.
That’s right people, summer and winter tyres. This all depends on what sort of bike and riding you do, but some of us will have lightweight, fast-rolling tyres for smooth summer rides and in winter use a completely different weapon. A tyre that’s a bit wider and more puncture resistant can not only mean you don’t have to fix punctures every few miles, it can also add a whole lot of comfort to what can be pretty testing road conditions. Don’t be afraid to embrace the fat tyre revolution, come to the dark side, we have comfort.
This is a big one folks. Lights can make or break a winter ride. Even if you pop out for the day, chuck a set of lights on and you’re free to extend the trip, or even just get home safely as the days grow shorter
That should be enough to get you started. Cycling is all about enjoying yourself, so if you are finding a lack of motivation or the conditions just aren’t worth it, sack it off… maybe go tomorrow, the roads will still be there some other time. Anyone else got any other tips for winter riding? A preferred mid-ride snack perhaps? Maybe you switch it up and go mountain biking in the winter. Let us know!
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