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Practical Advice To Enjoy Cycling In Winter

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. Ride indoors on really bad days...there are times when you have to abandon and get on the indoor trainer.

Why you should ride outside in ride-able winter conditions? Well it may be unpleasant at first, but it could turn into a magical experience and might help in beating off the winter blues… getting outside and being in the sunlight even in winter temperatures is critical, it helps balance serotonin activity, increases melatonin production, balances your circadian rhythm, and increases vitamin D levels, which can lead to an improved emotional state.

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 and some form of reflective gear...

If setting off in poor visibility then you need lights to see and be seen, enough said.

Mix it up.

Winter is a great time to try new things and spice up your cycling routine. You can try different types of cycling, such as mountain biking, gravel or cyclo-cross. And using a mountain, gravel or cyclo-cross bike in winter will be a fun and adventurous way to explore the outdoors on two wheels. You can cycle on unpaved roads, trails, and paths that are usually less crowded and more scenic than paved ones.

More general bicycle maintenance in winter...

Clean and lube your drive-train 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.

If your stops are long you'll end up feeling the chill that's because the layers that you have on are damp or sweaty. We are much more likely to feel the cold when our skin is wet. That's because body heat escapes much more easily through wet skin. If the rest stop long and you are sitting inside (hopefully warm), remove as many layers as you can, and letting them air out and dry as much as possible.

As always eat early and often...

Take snacks along with you. In colder temperatures your body will burn more calories to keep your core warm, as well as keep your legs spinning. And hydrate – even if cold water is the last thing you feel like drinking, you still need it. And treat yourself! It’s always worth pointing out that hard work deserves an extra treat - eat bigger slices of cake during your breaks at the café or when you get home.


I encourage you to give winter cycling a try. Endure the cold, and if planned properly you are never too far away from a coffee, a slice of cake, warm meal, the refuge of your car or a hot shower.


That is it. Thank you for reading. I hope you found it to be a useful resource. Questions, comments and high fives! Drop them here.


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