Before you head out of the door, remind yourself that the ultimate goal of every outdoor bicycle ride is to return home safely. The most important thing to remember when riding your bicycle outdoors in winter or summer is that backing off or cutting a ride short can never be a bad decision.
Why you should ride outside in rideable winter conditions? Well it may be unpleasant at first, but it could turn into a magical experience….
As long as you dress for the occasion
Wear good-quality breathable and moisture wicking clothing - inappropriate clothing will leave you shivering and or sweaty.
Ensure your windproof outer layer has venting options, including a full-length front zip and armpit zips or mesh material to vent moisture.
Wear a neck-warmer or buff, it is multi-functional – could serves as a membrane through which to breathe and protect your lungs from the dry cold air, and if long enough you could use it as a balaclava to keep your head warm.
Fingers and toes have little blood flow and are vulnerable to cold – wear long finger winter glove and a thicker sock.
Have an extra layer, rather too warm than too cold.
Make sure you have lights
If setting off in poor visibility then you need lights to see and be seen, enough said.
More general bicycle maintenance in winter
Clean and lube your drivetrain after every ride, especially if you have ridden your bicycle in wet condition. As with all equipment, you need to take care of your bicycle. It is important to keep it clean as this reduces wear, makes it easier to work on and allows for a better safety check, minimizing the risk of accident/injury due to equipment failure.
Ride slow, but slow enough to generate heat
Drop the pace and use the outdoor winter rides to build your endurance. Long, slow winter rides will lead to the development of a stronger heart muscle, increase mitochondrial levels in the cells, develop more capillarization in your muscle and result in an overall increase in stamina.
Explore new routes
We think about riding from our front door and then returning to it but you there's nothing better to reinvigorate the senses or beating the winter blues than exploring somewhere new, and again, given the right preparation – you definitely still get out and have a little adventure when days are shorter and colder and wet. Your bicycle can take you places nobody else would think to explore on the coldest winter’s days.
Or revisit old routes
The roads will be much quieter than you're used to as the fair-weather cyclists stick to their turbo trainers – and you'll discover new places to stop that really come into their own in winter time.
Set off a bit later on shorter weekend rides
This one is my biggest tip, especially when the temperatures have really dropped. Setting off an hour or two later when it’s a bit lighter and warmer will allow for that extra coffee in the morning instead. May be set off in the afternoon, again the roads will be much quieter and you will definitely get a different vibe and feel from the regular spots you stop at.
And maintain your body heat
Keep the mid ride rest stops short, the colder air temperature will suck up your hard-earned body heat in a flash.