Winter riding has its challenges, but the warm glow of your post ride coffee and the feeling of accomplishment you get from tackling Mother Nature on your bike make it all worth it.
We know all about white fingers and numb toes, but we love the blue sky winter mornings when the roads are quiet and the air is fresh too much to stay indoors.
Here are a couple of tips to help you thwart Jack Frost and keep riding with us all year long:
Without sounding like we’re trying to flog our range of winter clothing (the weather does that for us) – quality cycling clothing designed for cold or wet conditions will make all the difference.
We’ve created a cycling forecast page to help you choose the right clothing for the conditions here. Each state of weather has a selection of our best kit for you to choose from, so you can pick a couple of items to mix with your current cycling wardrobe that will help keep you warm and dry.
We’ll be sharing our favourite kit with you all winter so you know what we’re wearing to make it through to spring.
Of course, the day light hours are drastically reduced and you need to make sure you are safe and visible. A good set of lights you can rely on is essential – so check out our buying guide here.
Ride in a group or take part in organised rides
Suffering shared is suffering halved. We’ve wiled away quite a few uncomfortable winter miles laughing with friends about our total lunacy at choosing to be outside.
If you don’t ride with a club, or just fancy something different, taking part in an organised ride is a great idea. At most events, the route will be marked, feed stations will keep you fuelled along the way and mechanical support will be available, so it’s a good way of taking the thinking and planning out of the ride. We organise road and off-road events across the country, take a look here.
Remember that conditions could mean you need to adjust your riding style, take care on wet corners and be mindful of other riders – it’s not the time of year to drop your mate on a climb.
Mix It Up
If you already ride off-road, you’ll know it’s great fun sloshing through the mud that winter rainfall provides. If not, it’s time to give it a go.
If trails are new to you, you might not want to splash out straight away on a new bike, but plenty of mountain bike trail centres allow you to rent. The short sharp climbs will keep you fit, whilst learning to weave around obstacles will do wonders for your handling skills.
If you’re of a competitive nature, and suffering from summer competition withdrawal symptoms, check out Cyclocross events across the country and dust your racing attitude off for an hour of hard and fast competition.
Maintain your ride
Your bike looks after you on tough winter rides, so take some time go give it some love. Regular cleaning and lubing will ensure your gears click along smoothly and you don’t have any mid-ride shifting refusals.
In wet weather, wet lube like the stuff that Finish Line produce will do the job for you, keeping everything running smoothly, and giving your drivechain a wipe with an old rag to remove the worst of the moisture and grit is a great idea. If you’re a commuter, keeping a towel at work is a good idea so you can give your bike a rub down after a damp ride in.
Salt and grit from the road can damage components over time, so a good warm water bath and de-grease will stop this. Keeping an eye on brake pads is also important as the road grime can get stuck between pad and rim leaving you with wheel rim damage.
Winter tyres are important. A good set will be more durable and help reduce punctures, as well as giving you more grip on the road – we like the Continental 4 Seasons but there are plenty of options.
You need to keep an eye on them to ensure you don’t get any nicks which will leave you vulnerable to flat tyres, and if they do get damaged it’s better to replace them then end up patching a tube every ride.
Enjoy the ride,