The winter months shouldn’t mean you have to put the bikes away. In fact it’s probably more important to get out and get those endorphins pumping to help you beat the winter blues! So we’ve got some tips to keep you pedalling through the winter weather.
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing
These wise words originated from Scandinavia, where they know a little bit about coping in the cold, and it doesn’t stop them from getting out there. Some good quality winter kit can keep the cold and rain at bay so you can stay out on your ride a little longer.
Firstly, look after the extremities. A decent pair of socks and waterproof overshoes will keep your feet dry and warm. Plus, some good winter cycling gloves will mean your hands don’t go numb, since it’s pretty important to ensure you can still brake and change gear!
Layering is key during winter months. A good base layer will help you maintain a comfortable temperature without overheating. But if you’re planning on stopping for a mid-ride coffee, it might be worth taking a spare base layer with you, so you can stay dry and warm while you’re not moving.
Thermal jerseys and bib tights are ideal when the temperatures start to dip, as they’re designed to trap in warmth in cold conditions. A gilet is another useful bit of kit which can help to keep the wind chill off your chest but can also be removed and stored easily if you get a little warm.
Winter means darker mornings and evenings so it’s important to make sure you’re visible to other road users. It’s also a legal requirement in the UK to have lights on your bike in the hours of darkness. As well as making sure you’re seen on the road, a good front light is important if you’re planning to cycle on unlit country lanes or trails, so you can clearly see the path in front and any potential obstacles.
Reflective clothing will also increase your visibility while you’re out. Most cycling clothing will include reflective details in their design for this purpose. At Hiplok, we’ve also created our SUPERBRIGHT series, which feature an ultra-reflective sleeve on our range of patented wearable chain locks, to help you stay visible on the roads.
If it’s wet and muddy outside, a pair of mudguards will definitely come in handy. They will protect you from the spray and water that gets kicked up from the road, meaning your feet and backside stay a little dryer. They will also protect your bike from getting caked in mud and water, so you won’t have to spend hours cleaning it when you get back.
But if that still doesn’t convince you, then your riding buddies may have something to say about it. Mudguards don’t just protect you but they’ll also keep anyone cycling behind you free from a face full of spray. Whilst it’s generally considered good cycling etiquette, many cycling clubs make them mandatory on club rides during the winter months.
A winter bike is a usually a second bike that is fully equipped for winter riding, with mudguards, lights and maybe some disc brakes. It could be an older bike you used to use, or one that’s a little cheaper that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty and running through a few puddles. Since winter can take its toll on your bike, you don’t want to be using your best, and likely expensive bike on winter roads or trails, so it’s worth it for a small investment.
During the winter months the roads are full of water, grit and grease so you’ll need to clean your bike regularly to prevent rust and erosion. A good bike cleaning kit is definitely worth purchasing, to ensure you don’t end up taking it to the local bicycle repair shop.
Start by giving your bike a general wash to remove most of the surface dirt and grime, using an all-purpose bike cleaner and a brush. A degreaser can then be used on the drivechain to remove oil and grease. Wash off the degreaser and dry the chain before applying ‘wet lube’ (designed specifically for wet riding conditions) to keep the components lubricated.
If the weather has been particularly bad the smaller roads and lanes will suffer the most. For instance, they may be susceptible to local flooding if there has been heavy rainfall, or they can stay quite icy on cold days with lack of traffic. So if you’re going out, we’d suggest sticking to main roads as much as possible, as they’ll usually be clearer and are likely to have been gritted when the weather turns icy.
If you just can’t face stepping out into the cold, you can still get a decent work out on a turbo trainer. Whilst cycling indoors can admittedly become a bit mind-numbing after a while, smart turbo trainers will connect to various apps such as Zwift and BKOOL to make it a little more entertaining and structured.
There are also a number of benefits to a turbo trainer that you don’t get out on the road or trails. For instance, without the ability to freewheel, a turbo training session is usually more intense, which means an hour on the turbo is basically like 3 hours on the road. So if you’re short on time, it’s a great option to get a quick workout in.
Plus, if you’re training for an event or race, your intervals or efforts are not going to be interrupted by traffic lights or other variables you can’t control. You also don’t have to spend time putting on all those winter layers before you even get on the bike. Just make sure you’ve got a good fan to hand!
Although there may be a little extra planning required when the weather turns, hopefully these tips and suggestions will mean you don’t have to put your bike away for the winter. Happy cycling!