During winter, the inherent hazardousness of jumping onto a bicycle is compounded by unfavourable weather. For one thing, the temperatures are lower, which is unpleasant in- and-of- itself. For another, frost, ice, and rainwater building up on the tarmac will surely cause careless cyclists to skid to an embarrassing halt. Throw in the shorter daylight hours, and the added danger posed by the darkness, and you’ve a recipe for misery. That is, if you don’t take a few simple precautions!
Firstly, let’s take a look at how to dress when cycling in winter.
What to Wear When Cycling in Winter
As the days grow shorter, cyclists will be wondering how to keep their hands warm when cycling in winter. Get something that’s snug-fitting and lightweight – woolly gloves are covered with tiny holes through which freezing wind will easily pass, so opt for tight-woven, windproof fabric. With that said, any pair of gloves will be better than none.
Ear Protection or Covers
When you’re in the saddle, you’ll need both hands to control where you’re going – especially if the ground has become treacherous. You therefore won’t be able to use your hands to give your ears a comforting rub when they start to go numb. Add to that the fact that they’ll likely be stuck underneath a helmet and the problem becomes clear; opt for a pair of ear- warmers and you won’t regret it.
Waterproof Shoes or Covers
How to keep feet warm when cycling in winter is another important topic. If you’ve ever been caught out in the cold while wearing something soaking wet, then you’ll know how unpleasant it can be. Shoes are particularly vulnerable, as a misplaced foot in a puddle you didn’t see can cause your socks to become soaked. If you’re out in the country, this is more of a ‘when’ situation than an ‘if’ one. Battle this problem with the help of a set of waterproof shoes, or cover your existing ones with a layer of waterproof canvas or plastic. Such solutions are inexpensive, and you’re sure to be thankful you made the purchase should you ever put a foot wrong.
Finally, we should spare a thought to the neck. Pedestrians might elect to cover this with a scarf, but cyclists (and Premier League footballers) will prefer something that isn’t going to dangle in unwelcome places. A snug-fitting neckwarmer will protect you against the sharp shock of an icy breeze when you’re hurtling along.
How to Train and Cycling in Winter
You might be tempted to take a glance out of the window on a January morning and determine that jumping into the saddle just isn’t worth the effort. But since we live in a country where the weather is reliably dreary for most of the year, this approach will surely inhibit your efforts to get into shape. Moreover, if you’ve been relying on your bicycle to get into work, you’ll want to continue throughout the year. Fortunately, you can do so with just a few minor adjustments to your approach.
As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to vary your cycling attire according to the weatherconditions. For one thing, you’ll want to be warm – so layer up with jerseys, gillets, gloves and base layers. Avoid anything long and flappy – as it’ll hugely reduce your aerodynamism when you’re cycling at speed. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re seen – so wear high- visibility clothing and attach lights and reflectors to your bike.
Winter training will present your body with a little more of a challenge – but it’s one that’s well worth taking up, as you’ll emerge from the ordeal better equipped than ever to take on whatever the upcoming year throws at you. Depending on just how taxing things are, you might wish to tone down the intensity of your cycling a little – after all, it’s better to head out for a round of low-intensity training than it is to dispense with your efforts entirely!
Tips for Cycling in Winter
Light Yourself Up
A sizeable portion of all road accidents occur because one motorist failed to see another. If one of the vehicles involved is a bike, then the consequences can be disastrous. Evening arriving earlier is something that cyclists should be especially aware of if they’re looking at cycling in winter safely. Cover yourself in reflective gear – jackets are ideal, but armbands will do the job quite handily. At the same time, you’ll want to install headlamps and taillamps if you’re going to be cycling in the dark – after all, you wouldn’t drive a car withthe headlights switched off.
Keep Your Bike in Top Condition
Clearly, winter is going to be a wetter time of year for your bike – those puddles will appear more frequently, and they’ll stick around for longer. A set of mud guards will prevent the dirt from spraying upward onto the frame of your bike. We should also consider that the chain will be under considerable pressure when the weather’s frosty; give it a protective coat of wet-weather lubricant, and refresh it throughout the season. The same is true of tyre inflation – keep everything properly pumped up and you’ll get better grip, which in turn will reduce the chance of an accident.
General bike maintenance becomes more important at this time of year, if only because the cost of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere is higher when it’s freezing cold and your shivering, blue hands can barely grip the chain you’re hopelessly attempting to reattach. Farbetter to prevent this sort of thing by giving your bike the attention it deserves!
A spell of adverse weather needn’t mean packing in your cycling exploits. While the season might present a few additional hazards, they’re nothing that a little common sense can’t surmount. If you’re going to take cycling seriously, and especially during winter, then don’t consider things like reflective clothing and maintenance optional extras – with their help, you’ll get far more from the hobby than you otherwise might!