The winter months bring cold days and dark nights, and as a result it can be tempting to put your bike in the shed for a few months and limit yourself to rollers or the exercise bike. Or, even worse, it can be easy to forget about cycling entirely and let your health and fitness slip over winter - we’ve all been there. While getting some indoor exercise is undoubtedly better than nothing, I think we can all agree that nothing really beats the feeling of getting outdoors and being out on the roads.
As a result, this February we’re encouraging all cyclists to hit the roads and get back to cycling outdoors. In order to do this, we’re excited to be launching our February 28-day Ride Outsidechallenge. All you have to do to participate is simple - just cycle! By simply heading out cycling using the See.Sense app and a See.Sense light, you can earn exclusive prizes and discounts based on how many days you’ve cycled. The more days you cycle, the bigger the reward!
In order to help you get prepared for winter cycling and for participating in the 28 day ride challenge, we’ve put together some tips on how to conquer winter cycling.
The easiest thing you can do to overcome winter cycling is to simply wear the right clothes. No matter when or where you’re cycling, if you’re soaking wet and freezing cold it's a guarantee that you’re not going to have a good time. Warm, waterproof gloves and overshoes are essential, as your extremities will be the first parts of your body to feel the cold. A high quality thermal vest will also do wonders for keeping you warm; a good base layer will heat your core and regulate your overall body temperature. You can wear as many layers over this as needed, but it's a smart idea to set off a little cold - if you begin your cycle too warm you’ll likely be too hot halfway through your ride once you’ve heated up!
Adapt Your Ride
It’s a good idea to adapt your bike to better suit the winter conditions. If you haven’t already, equipping mudguards is a particularly good idea for wet winter weather. Mudguards can be unpopular with some cyclists, but they’ll stop most of the water and dirt from kicking up onto you and your bike. Not only will this keep you dry, but it’ll preserve the lifespan of your bike by keeping dirt and moisture out. Mudguards are especially important if you’re riding in a group, as without them you’ll not only soak yourself but everyone around you too. Additionally, it's important to make sure your tyres and brake pads are in good conditions heading into the winter months. Older, worn-out tyres will be easier to puncture as well as having less grip, so it could be worth equipping a new set if you haven’t done so in a while.
Slow and Steady
It’s important to cycle carefully and take it slow when out on the roads in winter, especially if you’re cycling in wet conditions. While winter weather shouldn’t deter you from cycling, it’s still important to be mindful of the condition and cycle with care. During winter, you should also ensure you adopt a more assertive road position and stay out of the gutter. Gutters and roadsides have extra debris in the winter months, and as such, adopting a more primary road position is advisable.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a See.Sense cycling tips blog without mentioning lights, but having a set of bright lights equipped on your bike is absolutely essential when cycling in the winter. While you should have lights equipped on your bike all year round, the shorter and generally darker days of winter makes having a good light especially important. This is also true of having daylight visible lights; while it's important year-round, it's a particularly good idea to stay daylight visible in the gloomier winter months.
It’s extremely common for cyclists of all ages, fitness levels, and experience to suffer from a lack of motivation to get on the bike during winter. If you’re stuck in a bit of a cycling rut, frequently cycling the same routes at the same times, then the added cold weather may make the prospect of doing these familiar routes less appealing. Weather permitting, you can explore some new routes during the winter, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can even try new forms of cycling such as off-road or mountain biking. If you’ve only ever cycled solo, you can also add variety by joining a local cycling club and trying out some group rides.
Lastly, in addition to these tips, it is equally important to adopt a positive attitude. Although for some cyclists it can be frustrating not being able to go as fast or as far as you have previously, the main thing is to just enjoy your cycle and the fresh air that comes with it!
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