TEN WAYS TO KEEP RIDING OVER WINTER
It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to drag yourself out on your bike. But those cool, crisp mornings when the sun is still nudging up over the horizon and the fields sparkle with frost can be some of the most spectacular times to be on a bike. With this in mind, we’ve come up with a few steps you can take to help you make the most of those chilly festive rides.
DON’T GET UP
Getting out of bed is possibly the most challenging aspect of winter riding, period. Those early morning rises when it’s dark and cold outside are possibly the single biggest barrier to you getting out on the bike. So don’t bother. If you’re riding with pals, arrange a civilised time to meet for the ride – when it is getting light would be a start. You could meet at 9am, still see the sun hovering near the horizon and get a 90 minute ride in to be back for coffee at 10.30am. Keep it civilised and you’re more likely to do it.
DODGE THE WEATHER
This time of year, you could wait months to get decent riding weather so you do need to be a bit flexible, but all the same, it’s going to come hard riding through a torrential storm when it’s cold enough to freeze the nuts off a brass monkey out there. No rain lasts forever, so give it a little while to ease off and get out when it clears up. Of course you will always need to be prepared for that mid-ride surprise, which is why you’ll need a all weather jacket.
TAKE A TEA…
… or a coffee. You’d be amazed how much a warming drink will reinvigorate you when you’re slogging it out through the freezing morning mists. These days there are plenty of thermal flasks on the market that are purpose-built to fit your bottle cage. They might not have a handy nozzle but that only means you get to pull over and enjoy your beverage properly. Far better than a slug of freezing energy drink.
SHORT AND SWEET
A riding challenge could be the sort of thing that drags you onto your bike every day over winter but if you prefer not to be told what to do, the last thing on your mind is going to be committing to one of those. Ultimately we ride over the holidays to get a bit of fresh air and spend some time with our mates and it doesn’t matter if we’re out for a couple of hours or all morning. Get on your riding pals’ Whatsapp group and see what they’re planning the next morning and if it’s a short ride, enjoy it for what it is.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
Sometimes it’s nice to vary the ride away from the traditional loop, and sometimes it’s even better to forsake the roads altogether and take in some gravel track. Many footpaths and bridleways are gravelled these days, and you’re not necessarily going to need a dedicated gravel bike to navigate them – a decent 28mm set of winter tyres would do. On the other hand, if you got a gravel bike for Christmas … Our winter bib tights provide added protection from the cold … and brambles
THE LAYERS RULE
It might be arctic tundra when you get on your bike but things warm up, and that includes you. These days technical fabrics are bristling with thermal loops and windproofing and the like, which is great but if you adopt the layering principle of base layer, jersey, gilet or jacket, you can peel off gradually as you see fit during the ride. While you’re pulled over removing your gilet you could take a little swig of tea. Start your layering off right with our selection of baselayers – Shop here
Keep your head Cosy
Topping off your outfit with a decent hat is an essential aspect of winter riding. Choose a merino beanie or thermal head band to keep your ears warm for maximum cosiness and protection from the chill. Arguably even more important is a neck warmer. As any pro will tell you, it’s possibly the most essential piece of winter kit and prevents icy blasts from getting down to your chest. Our merino skull cap and winter collars will keep you warm through the winter.
Book a Trip
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a challenge. Any holiday that involves a bike will do it, but if you feel the need to do an Etape or the Maratona, that’s up to you. This is about as far in the calendar as you will get from the holiday and sportive season so use your rides to clock up base miles. This should help delay the panic mode you will inevitably fall into when you realise the enormity of the task ahead. Then when it’s done you’ll wonder what all that fuss was about.
Get something cycling for Christmas
The single cast iron guaranteed method to rekindle your passion for riding in the deep midwinter is to get something new for cycling under the tree on Christmas Day. You will without question want to go out there and then and try it out, even though the turkey is in the oven and the dinner will be served within the next couple of hours. Luckily we have plenty of gift inspiration for you to forward to your nearest and dearest – Shop here
DITCH THE COMPUTER
We’re all obsessed with data these days – if it’s not our speed it’s our average, or our distance or our calories burned … Watts? Those too. It’s one thing being informed by some useful information, it’s another to find yourself in a miserable battle to maintain an average or beat a personal best, particularly when it was tough enough getting out for a ride in the first place. So use this period of relaxation to ride without the anvil of a computer to weigh you down. If you still like to track your progress, stick it out of sight in your pocket. Just see how much better you feel without it.