Ten Things to keep you riding this Winter
There’s no point riding your bike and getting all cold and wet. That’s not going to be pleasant or healthy. So layer up to stay warm. As your temperature rises – as it will inevitably do, even if you’re just pottering – strip off layers to stay comfortable.
It really is worth investing in a waterproof jacket. The key word here is “waterproof” – NOT “water resistant” NOR “water-repellent”. When you’re riding, the rain will be determined to get in so look for a high collar & adjustable cuffs along with protected zips and taped seams. Also vents so you don’t over heat. You don’t need to wear something that makes you look like a massive lemon, but fluorescent highlights are important. Finally, hoods – great for staying dry whilst walking the dog, disastrous on the bike. Not because it keeps blowing off or creating a sail around your head, but because hoods restrict your peripheral vision. Get a cap to keep your head warm and dry. And when trying on a jacket remember to take into account the multiple layers you will be wearing underneath.
Hand in Glove
As Morrissey sang “Hand in glove we can go wherever we please”. And with a good pair of gloves you can! Gloves are seasonal – Winter, Spring & Autumn and Summer. Your hands are the most exposed part of you when riding, so winter gloves need to resist the wind chill and rain. Look for gloves with good insulation, padded palms and good grip.
Make sure you’ve got tyres with good grip and are puncture resistant. And keep them up to pressure – the minimum and maximum PSIs are written on the side of every tyre. There’s nothing more miserable than stopping to fix a puncture in the rain and over winter all sorts of detritus is washed into the roads.
Mudguards – strangely split in the cycling world – those who do and those who don’t. So here’s some thoughts. Mountain Biking – to be honest, winter is the best time to go off road and the muddier you are the more fun it’s been, so, forget the mudguards. Everyone else, be good to yourself, your clothes and your cycling friends and fit some mudguards. And if there’s not enough clearance between your frame and your tyres to fit mudguards, there are now some cracking solutions to keep you and your mates spray free.
I’ve always wondered what would happen if cars were sold without lights… Riding in winter means you will inevitably be riding in the dark – the days are so short and often gloomy. So you will be legally obliged to have your lights on. There’s a plethora of lights available on the market. Firstly always go for rechargeable lights and make sure they’re charged! With front lights, check the Lumens. Riding in street lighting you’ll need something about 200 lumens. But on unlit country lanes you’ll need something more powerful around 1000 lumens. Rear lights are more about being seen so a good variety of flashing patterns is helpful. Also check burn time on rechargeable lights and light mountings. For the ultimate reliable light solution, instal a hub generator in your front wheel. You’ll never have to remember to change batteries or recharge a light ever again.
Love Your Bike
If you show your bike some love, it will love you back. Your bike will get dirty so give it a clean. With a bit of planning you can keep it clean with the minimum of fuss. Wash your bike down with warm soapy water as often as possible (at least once a week) concentrating particularly on wheel rims and the underneath of the bike. Clean your chain drive regularly – scrape the grime off jockey wheels, clear the gunk between your sprockets, clean your chain and lube with a wet lubricant. We’re a big fan of Green Oil Natural Formulations.
When riding in winter, you will need to carry kit and fortunately you’re riding a perfect transportation machine. Fit a saddle bag and pack it with spare tubes, repair kits and treats (makes a nice surprise when you open it up – I’d recommend wine gums…). Fit a good mini pump. A rack is a good idea as you can then stow layers in a pannier (waterproof, of course). And don’t forget fluids, it might be cold but still make sure you’ve got your bottle with you.
Stay at least a step away from the edge of the road. Look ahead and stay out of the puddles (you don’t know how deep they are), stay off the metal manhole covers and avoid the painted lines.
Be realistic! If it’s blowing a hoolie and looks like the end of the world, don’t go out on your bike. However, its not often like that and winter riding is a brilliant way to put a smile on your face!