The 5 things you need to know about cycling in winter
The Winter is setting in; the temperature is dropping and the frost is beginning to form. But despite this winter really is a wonderful time to cycle. It crisp and cool, it’s quiet and without jumping on your bike twice a day, you might miss the season all together – staying inside or in public transport until March. But cycle and you will see more of the season and catch some vital vitamin D whilst you’re at it.
But to fully enjoy the season in the saddle you need to cycle clever. Here are the 5 things you need to know to cycle happily and safely in the winter.
- It’s not that cold.
There might be frost on the ground and your breath is condensing in front of you but as soon as you start cycling you will get hot. So, don’t overdress from the outset of you will get sweaty and the rest of the day you will be drying off (and warming up)! A lightweight but windproof jacket is perfect to keep you snug and trust me - take off that extra jumper, you won’t need it on the bike. Pop it in your pannier bag until you get to work – that’s exactly what your they’re for. You just need to brace yourself for the first 10 minutes, but it will fly by and its good for the immune system. Right?
- Give your hands some love.
If you have ever forgotten your gloves and cycled for longer than 15 minutes in the winter, you know exactly how important gloves are to enjoy winter cycling. That searing pain in your fingertips as the warmth at home tries to resuscitate your hands back to life virtually guarantees that you won’t forget your gloves ever again. So get some good gloves, they should be water-resistant or wind proof. Don’t go mad and buy ski gloves – you will get too hot, you simply need a windproof layer to keep your hands happy and dry. (It’s also worth having a back-up pair – which stays in the bottom of your pannier bag, which you can gleefully whip out when you have forgotten them.) We love these by Loffi.
- Leaves and Ice
There are still some leaves left on the road and they might look innocent but they aren’t. In the winter months the remaining leaves get slippery and icy. Ice also Is more likely to congregate at the side of the road, so cycle carefully near the gutter. If you are on the backstreets it might be quiet enough for you to cycle closer to the middle of the road which in the early morning is worth it, as any ice is more likely to have melted away towards the centre. If it is icy or there are lots of leaves on the road, cycle in a lower gear for better traction.
- Back sweat isn’t just for summer.
In the winter, you will definitely end up wearing more so if you are not careful you won’t escape the back sweats. You warm up quick, and with a windproof jacket on and even a rucksack you’re on the fast lane to back sweat alley. So don’t overdress and invest in a pannier bag, not only will it keep everything dry, but as you can attach the bag to your bike (instead of carrying it like a donkey) you will avoid that sweaty back. Take a look at our canvas bags which are perfect for winter cycling.
- Be seen.
You don’t need to be told to get lights – but do get some lights, (and get yourself a back up that stays in your pannier in just case you forget them.) Reflective is also great and it is worth considering permanently attaching some reflective details to your bike. It’s easy to forget how hard it is to see you until you are in the driving seat of a car with headlights from oncoming traffic part shining in your eyes.