Top Tips For Cycling in Winter
Top Tips for Cycling in Winter
As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, it’s easy to forget about your bike and jump in your car or walk. Here are some tips to enjoy riding your bike in winter and stay safe whilst doing so.
- Keeping Warm
The best way to keep warm and manage your temperature in winter is to wear layers. Start with a good base layer that can help wick away sweat. A fleece and a jacket can then help cover the outer layers and tackle the conditions. If your commute to work is early in the morning it is especially important to be prepared for the cold. Mornings can be crisp and chilly, but it can soon warm up, so wearing layers that you can pack into your bag later on, can be a god send. It’s a good idea to have your gear prepped before your ride, so you don’t forget to take anything with you.
It’s important not to forget about the extremities, i.e. hands, feet and head. Gloves are an obvious essential and will prevent you from turning up with blue hands! It is equally important to not forget about your feet or head. Wearing thicker socks or wearing overshoes if you use clip in shoes, can help keep your feet warm. Likewise, a hat that can fit under your helmet can be a good way to keep your head and ears warm. However, these can’t be done in isolation, keeping your core temperature warm by wearing good layers will go a long way to keeping your hands and toes warm too.
If you know it’s going to rain, then it’s easy to be prepared and wear your rain jacket. However, for those days you’re not sure what the weather may be, it’s good to have a lightweight, packable rain jacket that you can pull out of your bag if it does start to chuck it down. The unpredictability of British weather means its near inevitable that there will be a surprise downpour at some point and not having anything to protect yourself from the rain is a quick way to ruin your ride. You’ll only be able to keep yourself warm if you keep yourself dry.
If all else fails, then try cycling that little bit faster. Working out more and getting the blood pumping will help warm you up.
Keep warm when you stop
If you stop midway through your ride or when you finish, a hot drink can warm you back up quickly. Take off some layers or put some on the radiator so they’re not soaking wet and cold when you set off again.
- Stay Visible
One thing synonymous with winter and the UK is the dark. The sun can set early so it’s important not to be caught out. A good set of lights, front and back, are essential for cycling in the dark. However, lights aren’t just for night-time; it’s also a good idea to use your lights in dimly lit and gloomy mornings to make sure you’re seen by other road users. It’s also important to note you should buy lights depending on where you will be riding. Some lights will help you be seen on main roads but won’t be strong enough to help you see what’s in front if you’re riding along the tow path or through Richmond Park, where there are no streetlights. You can also make yourself visible by wearing hi-vis or reflective clothing. At Barnes Bikes, we have a range of lights perfect for all conditions and hi-vis clothing to help you be seen.
- Make sure your bike is winter ready
Mudguards will keep you and your bike clean. A good set of mudguards will stop your clothes from getting sprayed by mud and protect your bike from being damaged by grit and rain. In addition, you don’t want to be the one person without mudguards spraying everyone else in the face with dirt. At Barnes Bikes, we have a variety of mudguards perfect for city riding. Our Bike Clinic can fit them for you.
Love your bike
We all love riding our bike, but we don’t always give it the love and TLC it deserves. Rain and grit on the roads in winter will dirty your bike and wear down your components. It’s important to keep your bike clean and running smoothly. A quick hose and clean with some soapy water is a good way to start. If you’re looking to take more care of your bike, then cleaning and lubricating your drive train will keep your bike in good shape and reduce the likelihood of needing to replace components. A service at our Bike Clinic is a great way to ensure your bike is running smoothly and safely ahead of tackling the winter months.
- Cycle Safely
When its icy or wet, make sure to take extra care. The last thing you want to do is fall off your bike by riding over some ice, so make sure you look ahead and be aware of what’s in front of you. If you need to pull out to avoid an obstacle, make sure you indicate clearly and look over your shoulder to check it is safe to do so.
- Plan your routes
A good way to carry on cycling during winter is to make sure you’re prepped for your ride. You may need to reconsider some of the routes you take, for example, riding on the tow path can be a muddy mess so it may be better to ride on the road or bike paths with asphalt. It’s also a good idea to pick routes that are well lit when cycling late at night. Planning your route before you start will mean you’re ready for any surprises.
Cycling is a great way to stay active and healthy this winter. Getting outside and riding your bike, whether it’s for 10 mins or an hour will have a positive impact on your mental health. Now more than ever, it’s important to look after ourselves and stay happy. Cycling is a simple way to do exactly that. If you need advice on bikes and cycling in winter, then pop down to one of our shops and our staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Blog by Barnes Bikes Team - Dominic Thomas
Photo Credit - A cyclist battling the weather in Copenhagen by Max Adulyanukosol