This is this hardest time of year for most of us, even the keenest of cyclist are finding it hard to get out of bed at 6:30am to do the dreaded commute to work. Those weekend rides that are usually a breeze, are now tarred bad weather, and must be done come rain, wind or shine. The warm cosiness of your bed is so hard to leave, and the cold, the darkness and the rain seem like the least inviting conditions of all.
For a lot of us it is essential to keep going, even through these tough times when the days are at their shortest. Christmas and New Year are out of the way and the weather is at its worst, but this is, after all, the time when we are supposed to be putting in those all important winter miles.
We can’t make it go away, but we can make it better with some good advice and survival techniques! Hopefully this guide will help you learn to love the winter!
First and foremost: get the right rain kit in your life.
We need to remember that we aren’t superhuman and we just can’t survive on one set of kit that gets us through summer and winter – if only!
It doesn’t need to be expensive and for what little investment it costs, it can really transform your riding.
A good pair of waterproof gloves, overshoes and rain cape are the three key items that you can have in your wardrobe that will help keep your fingers and toes nice and dry.
We recommend these:
These are the most vulnerable parts of the body that get exposed to the elements, so keeping these protected will help.
If you are commuting, try getting hold of a good fitting rucksack, this will able you to store your work clothes, food, and tools in the dry, stopping them from getting soggy and wet by the time you reach the workplace. An ergonomic rucksack like this will stop it from bouncing around and help to avoid back pain and discomfort.
For those long weekend rides it really is worth investing in a good winter jacket. It seems expensive at the time but when you’re stuck out in the elements, it becomes invaluable. The better your jacket, the less you have to layer up, so in the long run you will actually save money. One good jacket and a base layer will go a long way in keeping your temperature at a comfortable level. This jacket from Sportful is a great value winter jacket: stylish, yet warm and windproof.
Now we’ve got the clothing aspect covered – let’s try some survival techniques!
Don’t be fooled into thinking you haven’t got enough clothes on at the start of the ride, once you have set off and got 10-15 minutes down the road you will be warm. If your warm when you set of you will get too hot, sweat too much and ultimately get colder. Try putting your rain jacket on when you set of and take it off 10 minutes in – this certainty helps to moderate your temperature.
Take food –Due to the cold we don’t tend to take on as much fluid as we would in the summer so make sure you eat. A good energy bar with high source of carbohydrates is ideal or a this will help to replenish some of the energy loss and help to keep you warmer. If your energy source drops you won’t be able to keep pushing till the end meaning you will get slower and unavoidably colder.
Try to keep going – A nice even pace is better than stop starting, if you can keep the ride together that acts as really good way of keeping a nice constant temperature. Always offer a helping hand if a fellow rider has punctures or a mechanical issue, the quicker it’s fixed the quicker you can get going again. If you are on your own put your rain cape on to keep the warmth, and always remember your tools and puncture kit.
And finally, if it all gets too much, you can always phone home!