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Winter cycling hints and tips

18 February 2020 CHSW Events

No such thing as bad weather...only bad clothing!

With correct layering and modern kit it’s possible to stay dry and warm even in the foulest winter conditions. Pay particular attention to your extremities (hands, feet and head) and keep well hydrated and fuelled. Before heading out put your shoes, socks and gloves near a radiator to warm them up. Good fuelling is also very important when riding in the winter. If your blood sugar drops, you’ll feel the cold more and won’t have the energy to complete your ride.

Consider using insulated bottles with a hot drink in them. Hot water or try green tea with honey which works really well for warmth and energy. 

Don’t overdress or you’ll sweat, get chilled and probably have to stop to take off layers. Start your ride feeling slightly chilled and once you get going you’ll feel just right. On a hilly route in cold or wet conditions, as well as making descending potentially hazardous, you’re likely to overheat and sweat on the climbs and then get chilled on downhills. By choosing a flatter route you can keep your effort level more constant, meaning a more even temperature and less need to stop to remove or add layers. In icy or snowy conditions, you’re probably safer off the roads.

Stay visible on your bike

Route choice can also have an impact on your visibility during the winter. Look for lit roads and cycle paths and if you know you’ll be riding in the dark on unlit roads, make sure your lights are up to the job.

Don’t just limit light use to dark. Using lights during the daylight hours even in the summer, significantly increases your visibility to other road users. In the winter months also consider reflective and brightly coloured jackets, overshoes, gloves or wristbands which are all great ways to make yourself more visible in dark conditions.

Correct road positioning is arguably even more important during the winter months. By avoiding riding in the gutter you’ll be far more visible to other road users and they’re less likely to try and squeeze past when inappropriate. You’ll also avoid the potentially puncture causing debris in the gutter and by creating more room for yourself, be able to take evasive action around potholes or puddles more safely.