We’ve reached that time of year when the temperatures drop and motivation to ride outdoors goes with it. However, though it might be colder, wetter and darker than the rest of the year, we think you can have just as much enjoyment in the winter months as any other season. It’s all about the correct mindset and realising that getting the winter miles in will help you going into the new year. But it can be tough, so here are our tips on how to keep riding through winter.
Get your bike ready for winter
The first thing to focus on is your bike. Winterproofing your bike is crucial so that you can protect it and yourself from the elements. First, fit a wider tyre on your road bike, ideally a 28mm tyre at a lower pressure than for dry summer miles. This will help with both comfort and grip in the wet. A tyre with more grooving will also help to shed water.
You should also fit mudguards to your bike, vital when the roads are mucky and wet. They will protect your bike, yourself and fellow riders from grit, water and any other filthy things that your wheels will kick up.
You should also make sure to care for your chain even more than you usually would. Not caring for it may cause huge problems for your drivetrain. Use a wet weather lube every day and give your bike a quick maintenance check before and after every winter ride.
The next thing to winterproof is yourself. This year more than most, it’s vital to stay warm through winter and prevent yourself from catching a cold or putting yourself at risk of anything even nastier. Follow our kit list:
Base layer – Comfy and keeps your core warm.
Bib tights – Thermal or non-thermal, they’re ideal for the coldest months.
Long sleeve thermal jersey – Keeps the cold out and the warm in.
Gilet – A helpful extra layer. You can always take it off and pack it away small in your back pocket.
Rain cape – Keeps you dry in the wet. Will also keep you warm on the descents even if it’s sunny.
The next part of our checklist is everything that takes care of your extremities. This means your fingers, toes and head, all areas responsible for loss of body heat. You don’t want to have frozen fingers when you’re trying to open a bar or fix a puncture.
Neck warmer – A buff is comfy and keeps the heat in. It’s versatile too – cover up your ears and/or pull it up over your nose and mouth on the coldest rides.
Hat and gloves – Vital bits of kit to protect your extremities.
Shoe covers – Like gloves for your feet. Shoe covers will keep your feet warm as they protect them from road spray and rainwater.
Helmet – Make sure that your helmet can fit over your cap and buff. You might need to loosen the straps ever so slightly.
The last thing on our checklist is a good pair of front and rear lights. No matter the time of day, if it’s wet and murky, your ride is likely to be dark. Stay safe and stay seen by other road users by always making sure you have a powerful red rear light and white front light. Set them to flashing and you’ll be even easier to see.
Keep eating and drinking
This may seem like an obvious one but in the cold, we can sometimes forget to eat and drink. Fuelling on your ride is just as important, if not more so, in the winter than any other time of year. This means you should still be aiming to drink about half a litre to a litre of water an hour and regularly taking in fuel in the form of bars or fruit.
Enjoy your ride
Make sure you enjoy yourself! There’s no point spending hours in the wind, rain and dark if you aren’t getting anything out of it. There’s no harm in shortening your training routes during the winter months so that you don’t get caught out by the cold. Focus on your base fitness and spice things up by riding in a small group of friends so that you can keep each other going. You can always head for one of the UK’s Best Cycling Cafes as an added bit of motivation.
If you really don’t like venturing outdoors in the cold and wet, indoor training is for you. Setting up a space for an indoor trainer will motivate you to ride throughout the winter as there’s no risk of getting cold and wet. For even more motivation, a smart trainer paired with a program such as Zwift, with its in-built training plans, will keep things interesting. For an in-depth guide on how to ride indoors, check out 9 Tips to Maximise Your Indoor Cycling Through Winter.
Getting the winter miles in will set you up nicely for the new year. However, focussing on rest and having some time off is equally as important. That way, you can start the new season fresh and healthy and ready to ride.
Another thing to help you through winter is our cycle insurance.
Pedalsure can insure all of your bikes and accessories and cover them even in your home. The fact is, you won’t find many of the things we cover in your typical home insurance policies. Taking out a policy with us means that your bike is protected in cases of bike theft and damage when you are out on your winter rides.
Pedalsure can also protect you, your bike and your accessories in mass participation events and races, in cases of personal injury, personal liability and when you are travelling abroad. Getting yourself set up with a Pedalsure policy is something you only have to do once a year, but you benefit from on every ride.