Winter has arrived! Although we’re seeing above zero weather again, it’s only December so we’re likely to see snow, ice, and graveled and salted roads in all kinds of minus temperatures again. All of us ride during the winter, and we thought we should gather some winter cycling tips and tricks that might help you stay warm while riding – even if you’re just getting into it or you have been riding in the winter for years! More tips to likely be added in the future.
Warm up before you ride
We’ve noticed that one’s base temperature before riding can have a big effect on how comfortable (or not) one feels during the ride. If you’ve been sitting down for many hours before riding, for example, then have a quick warm up session (squats, burpees, warm drink, etc) before you head out!
Eat before you ride
This is especially true in extreme cold to avoid “bonking”. Cycling in these temps uses much more energy then you think! So if you feel a bit hungry then have a snack to have quick energy to get you through the ride.
If it’s icy, you can put your seatpost down a little bit. You can then put your feet down more quickly if you do slip and your center of gravity is also a bit lower.
You can also lower your tyre pressure to get more surface area and therefore grip on to the ice. Funnily enough, these are similar techniques and principles as found in mountain biking.
Prevent cables from freezing
Especially at the beginning of winter we often see issues with cables freezing (so brakes won’t properly brake and shifting is stuck in place, for example). Cable freezing is due to moisture in the cables, and this issue is common in winter weather where the temps are beginning to go below freezing, are hovering around minus/plus, and/or when it has been snowing/raining in this temperature range.
Some tips for avoiding this are:
-To keep your cables oiled and water-free
-To not leave your bike outside in wet, above zero weather when know the weather is soon going below zero. This is especially true for bikes with exposed cabling, although some condensation can also happen in bikes with internal cabling.
-Don’t bring your bike indoors in warmer conditions if it is only for a little bit.
Ski goggles in extreme cold and heavy snowy weather can be handy, as they protect your eyes, nose, and cheeks from cold air flow and snow from getting into your eyes. Make sure you can see OK from your side view and to look around, especially when turning and at junctions! Not just for cars, but fellow cyclists. Even though winter riding = less cyclists, there still are more and more of us around every year :)
Merino wool baselayers keep many of us warm throughout winter. Cotton and synthetics just don’t really cut it, as wool has better insulation when dry and also when sweaty. It also requires less washing and is better at odor control. We recommend buying from somewhere like Ruskovilla or other places with good quality products, more ethical animal welfare and human labor standards, not just some cheap merino wool!