Stave off that Winter Cold08 February, 2015 0 comments
Stave off that Winter Cold
Winter is a tricky time of year for a cyclist, or anyone keen on getting out there and exercising. You may decide that being tucked in bed is the best place for you, not on two wheels cycling through freezing fog and rain. Even if you are determined to carry on riding your love for the great outdoors and getting on your bike can be sorely tested by winter conditions. Wind, rain, cold: winter throws it all at you. But just because the weather is bad doesn’t meant that you have to stop going for rides. By following some sensible cycling advice for winter riding you can stave off that winter cold and continue riding the way you want right through the season.
Wrap up right.
You might think that the best way to keep warm out on your ride would be to wear as many layers as possible, but in fact this would be a mistake. As you warm up during the ride you may have to keep stopping to take bulky layers off. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim to keep warm and wear more than you would normally. Go for a few layers made of good materials, especially the layer closest to your body. Merino wool is a great example: it helps to keep you warm but the sweat away from the skin. It’s also handy to keep your ears covered and make sure your head stays warm. This can sometimes take a bit of experimentation if you aren’t use to anything up there except your helmet, so give new kit a few trial runs before deciding what’s best for you.
Keep your feet warm.
It may seem counter intuitive at first, but your feet actually don’t do a whole lot as you cycle. Whilst your legs pump away your feet are largely stationary and getting cold feet can therefore be a real problem with cycling in winter: not good for your health or your state of mind. There is nothing worse than dismounting to stamp your feet back to life at the side of the road, or cutting your ride short to get into a warm room. The best way to avoid the problem is to invest in a good pair of thermal socks. A thick pair of woolly ones can serve you well but bigger, in this instance, is not necessarily better. If you are having to cram your feet into your shoes then they won’t fit your feet the way they should and may end up cutting off the circulation: bad circulation plus the cold is not a good mix. The best pair of socks are something like a merino wool and synthetic fabric mix. The wool keeps your feet warm whilst synthetic fibres can help keep your feet dry. If you want to feel extra toasty then look into overshoes. They are an extra barrier of protection that works not just for warmth, but for keeping the moisture out when those cold winter showers roll overhead.
When an icy wind starts to come your way your hands can be the first things to suffer. Just as with the rest of the gear you wear on a cold winter ride, think warm but breathable. Sweaty hands on the handlebar are never enjoyable. Make sure the cuff length works for you: some people have very cold hands that need a lot of protection, but those with naturally hot hands may appreciate a bit of exposed wrist to stop from overheating. Just as with socks don’t go for the bulkiest you can find. It may keep your hands warm at first but it’ll reduce your dexterity.
Cycle with friends.
If you have all the gear but are still finding winter rides just too cold and miserable, try to tackle the problem psychologically. A problem shared is a problem solved, and your fellow riders may have a few bits of cycling advice to pass on that helps make winter rides more comfortable. Riding as a group or a pair is also a great psychological boost. You can take turns shielding each other from the wind, you have someone to chat to and distract yourself from the elements and if you have a mechanical then you have an extra pair of hands to help you at the roadside, meaning less time standing still in the cold and more time enjoying the ride.