Yes, it may be cold and dark outside in the early morning when you would normally have stepped out of the house to fit in a cycle before work. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go for the ride. Winter isn’t an excuse to take a break from your fitness sport. So, it’s time to ready yourself (both mentally and physically) for winter cycling.
Dress for the occasion
When you exercise, you tend to get hot and sweaty. Even in winter. But you can’t just go out and cycle in your normal cycling shorts and t-shirt. You’ll get hypothermia or a small degree of frostbite. You need to dress for the occasion and make sure you have the right clothing gear for the ride.
- Windbreaker jacket: Technical jackets and windbreakers are a necessity in winter. You could have all the thermal clothing but that cold wind you’re riding into will still turn you to ice. You need that top-layer windbreaker to protect yourself as much as possible from the wind to keep the warmth in.
- Thermal everything: Thermal long-sleeve tops, thermal socks, thermal jerseys and thermal tights. You’ll need everything thermal if you want to trap in the little bit of body heat you do have and ensure the cold doesn’t get to you as you’re cycling.
- Gloves and shoe covers: You won’t really understand what it means to cycle in winter until you take off your cleats and socks only to find a few of your toes are purple. Or when the cycle is over and your fingers stay curled over the handlebars. There is only so much you can do to keep out the cold and that will include proper winter cycling gloves and shoe covers.
- Neck gaiters: This is just an extra layer to keep your neck warm during the cycle. If every other part of your body is being protected from the cold, your neck should be too.
It sounds like a lot of layers that are inconvenient for cycling movement, but if you buy your clothing from the right cycling stores, your performance ability should be the same.
Prepare your bike for the ride
Now, your bike doesn’t need to be “warm”, but it does need to be protected from the extra environmental elements that come to play in the winter season. Here’s how to prepare your bike for a winter ride:
- Mudguards: Cycling in winter is wet and dirty and you and your bike will be better off with mudguards at the wheel. It will make the ride way more comfortable and if you’re riding with other cyclists, make sure they have mudguards too. Unless you enjoy mud all over your face?
- Winter tyres: Winter routes are more prone to punctures and you’ll definitely need to bring spare tubes and a pump along with you. But, to be as prepared as possible, you’ll want to buy some winter tyres that are slightly wider than usual. You’re going to need all the grip you can get out there.
- Lights: Winter mornings mean a later sunrise and if you want to fit in your ride before work or the school-time rush, you’re going to be cycling in the dark. More than just dark roads, however, will be the mist and gloomy weather – even if you are, perhaps, cycling later in the day. Lights and reflective clothing are a must if you want to be safe on the roads.
If you’re wondering where to buy bicycle parts online, you can browse the Chris Willemse Cycles website. They have all kinds of bicycle parts to help prepare your bike for the winter. They even have the clothing items we mentioned earlier. It’s time for you to suit up and your bike to gear up so you can hit the road.
Warm-up properly beforehand
Before you walk out of the warm house, make sure your body is properly warmed up. You can’t just get onto your bike and warm up with a slow starting pace like you normally would in warmer weather.
To protect your body, you need to warm up and stretch before your body hits the cold. That way, when you start cycling, you’re already able to get a good pace going and allow your body time to adjust to the cold. Your muscles will also be prepared for the exercise to come and you won’t be putting yourself at a greater risk for injury.
Take care of yourself and the bike after the ride
Then, when the ride is over, you’ll need to take care of yourself and your bike. Keep your bike clean and free from mud. Maintain your chains and bicycle parts and replace any spares you may have used.
Then, you’ll need to defrost your fingers and toes slowly before through a hot shower to relax your frozen-flexed muscles.