Now that winter’s on our doorstep, finding the motivation to keep cycling might not be quite so easy.
Depending on your location, your physical condition, and your bike itself, you may well feel daunted at the prospect of hitting that frosty road. Those of us living on hilly terrain (for example) might struggle with multiple inclines in the colder weather, while those in areas prone to floods might find their usual routes blocked off.
Still, provided you have the right gear, you can keep cycling through winter – and have a blast. To help you get the most out of your time on the saddle, we’ve put together four great tips to stay safe on your winter rides.
1: Layer Up
The right cycling clothes are important at any time of the year, but absolutely crucial in winter. You need to invest in wicking thermals to keep you moisture-free but warm at the same time, as well as waterproof top-layers. Even on crisp, bright days, you never know when an icy shower might come along.
Don’t be tempted to put on a big, paddeds jacket on the coldest days – you’ll quickly overheat through exertion. Not only can this ruin your ride just be making you uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Instead, layer up: with a waterproof shell, a top, and a thermal underneath, you can remove garments to regulate your temperature.
2: Keep your Essentials in a Waterproof Bag
On even shorter rides, you might take a bag of gear with you. Maps, books (for a spot of leisurely reading in your favorite hideaway), snacks, and spare clothes are all handy to have on the road.
However, if a pesky shower (or, worse still, a torrential downpour) comes along, you want your bits and pieces to stay as dry as possible. A solid waterproof bag will do the trick, and these are available in a range of stylish colors.
3: Stay Hydrated, Stay Fed
Just because it’s cold enough to freeze lakes doesn’t mean you won’t work up a thirst. You’re still pushing yourself as hard as you would be in warmer weather, and while you might not start sweating quite as quickly, perspiration will still come.
Keep a couple of flasks with you, perhaps filling one with cold water and one with hot chocolate. Water will keep you hydrated, while the latter will raise your temperature a little (and taste delicious).
Keep a couple of protein bars with you, to give you an energy-boost if you start to flag, and take a snack along for a more substantial lift. A high-fiber sandwich or pasta will do the trick, releasing energy over time.
4: Light the Way
Lights are essential in winter, even if you’re riding during the middle of the day: overcast skies can make you harder to spot on the road, particularly in shaded areas.
Invest in small, rechargeable LED lights that affix to your bike: these are simple to mount and will ensure drivers see you in gloomy spots. They also provide reassurance should you stay out later than planned.
Cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors all year round, so follow the above tips and you’ll have a great time!