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Winter is coming: 5 tips to keep you riding

As cliché as it sounds, winter really is coming! I know that cycling in the cold can be daunting, especially when you are used to cruising around in your short sleeves and sunglasses. But there is still a lot of enjoyment to be had from winter riding!

So, don’t lock your bike away – keep riding. Here’s 5 tips which I have put together to help you beat those winter blues.

Clothing

Obvious, right? But the amount of people I see without a pair of gloves, a waterproof jacket or some bib tights is frightening. Wearing the right windproof, waterproof and thermal clothing is essential for your wellbeing. There’s an old saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ so make sure you get yourself some essentials*. Plus, when you buy new kit you will be motivated to try it, win win!

It is important that you wear cycle specific clothing, even though there is a temptation to throw on your warmest jumper and waterproofs in the cold weather. You should consider that these will make you sweat, which will accumulate under your clothes and make you feel cold, wet and clammy. Which is not what you want.

*Winter clothing essentials:

Winter jacket

Bib tights

Windproof gilet/jersey

Windproof/thermal gloves

Clear/yellow glasses

Overshoes

Fuel your body

Eating enough before and during your ride is important whatever the weather. However, some studies suggest that the cold weather can almost double your calorie burn, especially during wet/icy conditions. Remember during low temperatures some bars can become hard and difficult to eat, so keep them in your jersey back pocket or switch to gels.

Unlike in warmer conditions, when your body prompts you to drink, the feeling of thirst could be weakened which increases the risk of dehydration. And since dehydration can affect performance, maintaining an adequate intake of fluid during cold weather ride is vital. But this gives us an extra excuse to stop for coffee and cake, right?

Bike maintenance

You should always keep your bike in good condition, and I’m sure you do, but in winter it is important that you pay a little extra attention. Make sure that you clean off that build up of grime regularly, and keep your brakes, gears and chain fully functional and well lubricated. The last thing you want when you’re out in the cold is to be stranded, so keeping on top of your bikes maintenance will prevent any mechanical mishaps.

Punctures

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again! Wet roads seem to attract an abundance of sharp objects like thorns and glass, which always seem to find their way through your tyres (and normally at the most inconvenient times). It is vital that you have at least two tubes and a working pump! Remember, check the pump actually works if you haven’t used it for a while. 

Lights

It’s a legal requirement to have a white light at the front, and a red and the rear of your bike if you are cycling in the dark, not to mention it’s dangerous to ride without them. Most cyclists will regularly ride after dark in the winter months, making bike lights an essential piece of kit.

I would suggest having bright rechargeable LED lights fitted to your bike at all times, and some emergency clip on lights in your bag, so you don’t get caught in the dark during shorter days.

Ok, so it’s not a lovely sunny day, but once you’re on the saddle the conditions won’t be as bad as you think. If you are feeling a bit miserable, give yourself a treat or snack, and stay positive – it will result in a far more enjoyable ride.


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