ENJOY YOUR WINTER RIDES20 October, 2014 0 comments
6 Suggestions to Keep Your Winter Riding As Much Fun as Your Summer Rides
Riding your cycle in the summer months is a joy for every cyclist, and commuting to work on a cycle in the sunshine is a brilliant way to start your day. However, as the summer draws out and winter starts to approach, many cyclists will start to park up their bikes and look for other ways to travel to work and enjoy their free time. There is no real need for this though; cycling in the winter doesn’t need to be dangerous or problematic. Following some basic advice and having the correct equipment will mean that you can still keep fit and help the environment; even in bad weather. To help anybody who would like to cycle all year round, here are some pieces of advice that should keep you on two wheels.
Struggling through a snow storm or a downpour on a bike is many people’s idea of a nightmare, but with the correct clothing you will hardly be effected. You may have the bare necessities for keeping dry and warm in your closet, but riding a bike is different to walking, so you should consider buying the correct clothing. You will need to have water proof and wind proof out layers as the weather you meet will be made worse by the speed you can travel on a bike. The wind will be stronger, and the rain or snow will be more intense. Elasticated sleeves and legs are a great way to keep the elements from creeping under your wet gear and if you don’t have them, you can always use elasticated bands to do the job. Even though you want to keep the elements from coming in, you will need breathable material to let the heat and sweat out of your clothing, and you should consider something like GorTex for this. One last thing, remember that you will get hot while cycling, even in the winter, so don’t wear too many layers of clothing as you could easily overheat. Finally, you should never ride a bike without a helmet; doing so could cost you your life
As winter approaches, you should be thinking about your bike’s maintenance, particularly as you will want your bike in good condition going into the winter and all the way through it. If you are going to have a service done in a bike shop, then all you will need to worry about is maintaining it at regular intervals. However, if you do your own service, check over all your bike. Brakes, cables, wheels, and especially tyres, need to be in tip top condition; and make sure you lubricate everything that moves; paying special attention to the chain. With salt, rain, and snow on your bike, it is going to wear and break down more quickly; so be prepared.
Making your bike more winter weather appropriate is important for your safety, so you should consider making some alterations to your bike to make sure it is suitable for your winter cycling. In a survey conducted by ICEBIKE it appears that most cyclists wear toe clips in winter, but if you don’t feel comfortable using clip pedals, you should consider buying some high grip peddles to stop your feet slipping off your slippery summer peddles. Slipping off you peddles is not only embarrassing, it has a real potential for an accident. There is something else that is always worth changing on your bike in the winter time; and that is the mud guards. Full guards may not look your bike look the funkiest on the block, but if you want to stop the splash back from the wet roads, they are a must.
When you are thinking about tires you need to be considering the amount of tire that is in contact with the floor; and that should be as much as possible. Wet roads are not the place to be using deep tread tires and you need a flat profile tire, and you should also consider letting some air out of your tires. In the snow you can use a tire with tread to help, and according to snowbiker.com you can use a studded tire to help you with better grip, but again, these are not much use on a wet road (unless there are icy patches).
The chances are that if you are riding in bad weather, that visibility will be impaired; so make sure you can see well enough and that others can see you. Slow your pace to allow people more time to spot you, which will also give you more time to handle any dangerous situation you encounter. High visibility clothing or bands are a must, and blinking lights will get you noticed easier than a constant light, so make sure they are fitted front and back. You should also invest in a high quality front light for your bike to make sure you can see as much as possible in bad or dark conditions.
Your Riding Style
We all think we have a certain amount of style, but that style will need to be tempered if you are going to survive your winter riding. We have already mentioned slowing down in the winter, but you will need to slow down correctly. You should be relying on your rear brake at all times as your front wheel could slip away from you in wet and slippery conditions. You also need to be watching how you bank your bike around corners, as once again, the wheels could start sliding from underneath you. If you feel this starting to happen counter it immediately and steady yourself with your feet (being careful about the slippery surface the foot could come into contact with). Remember to avoid driving on anything that could be slippery, and this includes drain covers and especially the painted lines in the road.
This may seem a lot to consider for your winter riding, but you should always ensure your safety, and these suggestions will help you do so. You can be warm, dry and safe; as long as you are prepared to make these little changes in your cycling habits