Expert Tips For Cycling In Winter
We spoke with prolific cyclist and fitness blogger Lisa Thake about how to make winter cycling more comfortable, enjoyable and safe so that you don't have to take all of your rides indoors and can still enjoy cycling in the beautiful outdoors, whatever the weather.
It looks as though the colder weather is here for another couple of months, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop cycling outside. They say, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing choices" and this is very true, along with some other changes you can make. Here are my top 5 winter cycling tips.
Dress In Layers
Depending on temperature and personal preference, you can start with items that can be added and removed very easily such as arm warmers, leg warmers and a cycling gilet. Even some waterproof jackets can be stored away small enough to tuck into a jersey pocket if necessary. I personally opt to change from bib shorts to bib tights in winter so I do not need leg warmers.
You'll also want a good thermal cycling jacket that is breathable and temperature regulating so that you can stay warm without overheating. Base layers are all too often overlooked and with good wicking material, even if damp from sweat or rain, will retain the properties that keep you warm.
I opt for clothing that is also water-resistant to ensure I stay warm but that if I am also caught out in bad weather, the rain will simply run off. Swapping to full finger winter gloves to ensure your hands stay warm is essential and I also opt for glove liners with mine as some winter gloves can get sweaty inside.
Toe covers or cycling overshoes, again those where water beads off, will help maintain your cycling shoes and ensure your feet stay warm. Very often, if your feet are cold, the rest of you can feel cold too. I always cover my ears as they are often the first place where I really feel the cold – you can use a wide headband for this or a thermal under-helmet skull hat, both of which do the job well. Lastly, the humble buff – such a versatile item that can be used in multiple ways. I mostly use mine as a neck warmer but during events I have done through the night where the temperature drops, I have pulled it up over my head and neck for more coverage. Whilst not technically kit, I also swap my glasses and on some you may be able to change lenses too – a yellow lens is great for low light or overcast conditions and clear are perfect for night riding.
Invest In Bicycle Lights
It's surprising how dark it is early in the morning and how quickly it gets dark in the evening, so good bicycle lights are key. There are many lights on the market to choose from; I recently got a light from Bontrager and although the price tag is quite high, it is really bright and the battery is long-lasting. As I commute and take part in events that go through the night, good front and rear lights are a wise investment. When commuting, I add extra lights for added visibility. I know many people who also recommend lights from CatEye and Lezyne.
Go High Vis
Following on from lights, being safe and seen is very important and reflective fabrics or accents to clothing and bags are great as an extra safety measure to ensure visibility on the road and cycle paths.
Choose The Right Bike Tyres
There are a lot of different opinions on this, but it stands to reason to choose tyres appropriate for the weather. The fact is that the wet washes more flint, stones and everything else on the road and this causes punctures. I usually ride Continental 4 Seasons all year round and find them great. My new bike came with S-Works tyres and whilst I have put in some decent mileage, they recently needed replacing and, on recommendation, I have swapped to Continental 5000, which also had a very positive review on Cycling Weekly.
If you are fortunate enough to have different summer and winter bikes, you will find this time of year is when you check the forecast and make a judgement as to which bike you want to be using and over the coming months it is more than likely the summer bike will be hung up for a while. You may also opt to ride with an additional spare tube and gas canister as there is unfortunately an increase in punctures during winter months.