It’s that time of year again. In many places around the world, it is getting cold; however, that doesn’t have to keep you off the bike.
It’s hard to beat cruising around in the summer but there’s still a lot of enjoyment to be had from winter riding – let alone the benefits of keeping your legs turning, and a bit of fresh air.
Dress in layers
“You need some padded, insulated gloves, a good warm hat, good warm socks to keep the extremities of the body warm. And one of my favourite pieces of gear is a wool long-sleeve shirt that I’ll wear underneath a sweatshirt,” says Dave Currie, master mechanic at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto.
And he says breathable, waterproof outer layers are the key to staying dry.
Never start your ride with a chill. This is a recipe for a miserable outing because your extremities will get cold very quickly. Start your ride feeling warm, perhaps even a bit too warm. Have a hot drink in a warm room just before you step outside. This will allow you to warm-up on the bike more comfortably.
Get some lights
Don’t let the dark mornings and evenings put you off, with a set of modern high powered lights you can turn night into day and get out before most people are even out of bed. Cycling through the night is hugely rewarding and frees you from just riding during the daylight.
Ride with friends
Misery loves company. Okay, winter riding doesn’t have to be miserable but there are tremendous benefits to riding in a group. It can be a more enjoyable experience, you can take turns shielding each other from a biting wind and sharing conversation makes the time go by faster. It’s also safer and more convenient if someone has a mechanical problem.
Food and drink
Eating enough before and during a ride is as important in winter as it is at any other time of year. Be aware that some energy bars can become very hard during low temperatures, so either keep them somewhere warm or opt for a softer product, such as gels.
Take care of your bike
Winter riding can wreak havoc on your bicycle so pay attention to its care and upkeep. Make sure you clean the bike, chain, gears, brakes and wheel rims on a regular basis. That means after every ride in wet conditions. It also means lubing the chain and gears on a more frequent basis. You may want to get a tune-up at your local bike shop at the beginning and end of winter to make sure it is in good repair.