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Ask the majority of committed cyclists and they’ll tell you they much prefer to cruise around in the summer months. However, there are plenty who enjoy the cold rush of riding in winter even if it does mean your feet will turn into blocks of ice.
Here at Cycleplan we’re offering 10 tips on how to deal with the challenges of cycling in winter.
Let us know your thoughts and add a few tips of your own in the comments section.
It sounds obvious but making sure you are properly clothed for winter weather riding is the most important factor to consider when venturing out in the snow and ice.
Specialist winter clothing can seem expensive but a bit of thought and careful layering can help you find the right blend for what’s ahead.
Key to this is not just simply to throw on a load of fleeces and waterproofs as these could make you sweat more even when the temperatures are so cold. Increased sweat can gather under your clothes and actually make you even colder as well as wet and clammy.
Cycle-specific clothing will eliminate these issues, keeping you moisture free. Other essentials to consider are a waterproof jacket, windproof gilet, thermal gloves and clear glasses.
It’s a fact that the worse the weather gets, the more likely you are to get a puncture. The danger presented by pot holes is increased hugely as road surfaces ice over so make sure you keep an eye open for them especially if you’re riding a route you cycle on regularly.
Always carry a couple of spare tubes if you can and a working pump. In freezing conditions it’s always best to use an air pump instead of CO2 as this gas can freeze.
#3 Food and drink
Eating the right sort of foods if you’re a keen cyclist is just as important in winter as it is in summer. One thing to be wary of is what could happen to those handy energy bars you squirrel away so keep them in a warm place if you can or pick some gels instead.
Drinking regularly is a must too. You might not feel warm but you will be sweating and losing fluid whatever the temperature.
If you do feel weak make a pit stop and grab a hot drink and something to boost your energy but make sure you keep warm once you’re off your bike.
#4 Check your lights
Remember how quickly it gets dark and gloomy in winter. Even if you’ve set off in bright sunny conditions it may well be twilight by the time you head for home. Make sure your lights are fitted at all times and the batteries are charged and working.
#5 Under pressure
If you can, swap your normal tyres for something a bit more heavy duty and puncture resistant. Wider tyres are a good choice for the winter, as they can be run at lower pressures which will offer extra comfort and grip. When the roads are wet, letting a bit of air out of your tyres can increase grip by slightly increasing the size of the contact patch. A little less air will also improve the tyre's ability to absorb vibrations from riding over rough roads, so you get more comfort too.
This is a bit of a tip from the cycling members. Think about all that horrible, freezing spray that gets thrown up as you’re cycling along. Now think about who’s cycling behind you. A mud guard will also prevent all this horrible stuff landing on your face, up your back and on your water bottle.
It’s essential during winter that you pay special attention to your bike’s moving parts especially the chain, gears and brakes. Keeping your bike clean is also important.
Oil your chain regularly and keep an eye on your cables as salt water from gritted roads can play havoc with anything exposed.
#8 Get on the ‘winter bike’
It might sound extravagant but maybe you should consider using different bikes for summer and winter. Keeping hold of an old bike when you buy a new one and then adapting it for cold weather using brighter lights and wider wheels. Be honest – do you really want to take your best bike out in all that weather when it’s at risk from salt and grit?
#9 Watch out for cars
Cars are far less aware of bikers in the winter so be very careful and try to make eye contact if you can.
#10 Think about your route
Be sensible when it comes to planning your ride and check the weather forecast. Charge your phone and take some cash in case of emergencies. If you’re riding in the city consider public transport if the weather gets too much.