Winter is around the corner, which means you should equip yourself properly in order not to be cold while cycling. For many, cold weather arriving means parking the bike until spring – however this is far from the right approach. You can keep using the bike as you means of transport for commuting, going around your city or training. Don’t let cold weather prevent you from cycling.
In this post, we will be sharing simple tips so that you can fight cold weather, equip yourself as properly and enjoy cycling outdoors.
1. Plan ahead
It’s important to plan well and know at what time you will be cycling, and for how long. Good planning can keep you from going out with freezing temperatures and enjoy a little more sunlight and warm weather.
Try to set out at noon or in the early afternoon, before 2 PM, when the sun radiates more heat. This will help you be less cold than in the early morning or late afternoon. It’s key to know how long you’ll be on the bike, as cold temperatures will start affecting you more the longer you stay outdoors. Always carry some extra clothing, as a windbreaker, a vest, a neck gaiter and some gloves in case you need to protect further if temperatures start going down.
2. Prepare yourself
Before going out to enjoy cycling, make yourself a cup of coffee or a hot tea, in order to increase your body temperature. Drinking something warm will cause your inner temperature to rise, and you’ll feel stronger against cold temperatures.
Organize and think about everything you’ll need once you’re outside. Don’t forget your tools, in case you need to repair a puncture or a malfunctioning component.
A good equipmentis essential as it will keep you protected against cold during wintertime. A problem that comes up many a time is sweat. Your clothing must be breathable, it must keep your body heat up and absorb sweat.
When you sweat, your clothes start getting wet. There lies the main cause of body temperature decreasing – then you start feeling colder and colder. Thus, it’s essential to wear good clothing, both sweat-absorbing and breathable.
The first layer of clothing should be a buena thermal base layer, tight and especially not made of cotton. Cotton takes an eternity to dry after being wet, and will in turn make you feel colder and wetter. The base layer can be a short- or long-sleeved T-shirt, even though long sleeved ones are more advisable in order to keep your arms warm as well.
The second layer must be of warm clothing, not too thick and breathable. The interior of this piece should be wool-coated or else have a thermal layer.
The third and last layer should keep us protected against the cold and the wind. The wind can make us feel even colder while cycling (the faster, the colder). Thus, this third layer should be a windbreaker, which will prevent air from getting through.
In case you normally commute by bike, you should bring spare clothes with you to change as soon as you arrive at your workplace. This will ensure you can work correctly and comfortably.
Accessories are complements that make cycling easier and more comfortable. They play a key role in winter, as they help protect the areas of your body that are exposed to the cold, such as the the head, face, hands and feet.
It’s important to equip your limbs properly, as it’s through them that you lost the most body heat. For the hands, a good pair of long gloves will keep the fingers warm and comfortable while grasping the bike’s handlebars.
Another key accessory is a pair of overshoes. Feeling cold in the feet is quite unpleasant; they should be well protected and the most insulated from cold as possible.
A neck gaiter, a balaclava or a cap are complements that will keep you warmer and prevent your body heat to dissipate through the head. They will at the same time keep your nose and ears protected against the freezing winter wind.
An important factor we may overlook when planning to cycle in winter is food: eating healthy and staying duly hydrated are also key for a comfortable ride. Eating before and during your ride is essential, especially in cold weather. When you’re cold, your body burns up more calories than usual, so your caloric intake needs to be higher. A good way of ensuring this is to always bring some food with you, such as energy bars or some fruit. You must consider this especially if you’re ahead a high-intensity or long route.
Another detail to be considered during cold days is hydration. Generally, you drink less water when cycling in winter, but your body needs to stay hydrated in order for muscles to work properly and prevent fatigue due to dehydration. We recommend you to drink frequently, every 20 or 30 minutes, even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Add some salts or power drinks to replace the electrolytes lost through sweating.
6. Be visible
It’s important to always be visible when cycling. This is true all year round, but becomes crucial in wintertime, due to decreased hours of light. Car drivers are less aware that they may find someone cycling in winter.
It is key to keep your rear light always on and a bright and visible outer clothing piece in order that both pedestrians and drivers can see you.
7. Keep your bike tuned up
It’s important that your bike is in good condition before going out, mostly in winter, when it becomes crucial. Ensure the brakes are working properly, check the tyres, inflate them at the correct pressure for an optimal grip and keep every component in good shape so that everything works as smoothly as possible.
Keeping your bike in a good condition will make you safer when cycling and will increase its durability.
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