Winter Cycling FTW!
Posted: 4th November 2009 | Eddie Allen
Yesterday I rode to and from work in some of the worst rain imaginable. I mean, we're talking Biblical here. Black skies, eerie phosphorescent air and rain that hit you hard in the back of the neck, rain that bounced three inches off the tarmac. Heading out of town up Oldham road, I looked down at the rivulets of water pouring from the tips of my fenders. My feet were wet, my legs were wet, my upper body was mercifully dry (thanks to a great waterproof jacket) and I cared not a jot. 10 minutes later I was warm (too warm) and dry (never too dry) in the office, feet and legs drying out, coffee steaming on the desk, computer booting up and with a great feeling of self satisfaction. I looked out of the office window at the apocalyptic washout and thought, "I rode through that".
Today I woke up to cold, crystal blue skies in every direction. I gave my wife and son a lift to work/school before cycling to the station and the temperature gauge on the car read 3 degrees Celsius. The car kept beeping at me and saying "Ice Warning." My mind beeped back, saying "perfect bike commuting weather."
Above: Four riders keeping it real on the streets of Manchester
A few minutes later I was out of the door on the bike. No coat, normal clothes plus a long sleeved Icebreaker merino base layer (cannot recommend one piece of outdoor apparel more highly) and a pair of Windstopper gloves.
A cold, dry, crisp morning meant carte blanche for riding as fast as I wanted - the need to warm up quickly and keep moving, no need to worry about arriving at work in a sweaty mess. Body, bike and environment in perfect harmony.
What am I trying to say? I think the message here is that there is no cycling ‘off-season.' Summer cycling is all well and good, summer evening spins are ace, but there's no better feeling than to spin the meteorological roulette wheel and ‘keep on keeping on' through the winter, taking each kaleidoscopic weather day as it comes.
Top tips for happy winter cycling
- Merino wool long sleeved base layer - the most effective, long lasting, pong resistant base layer you can buy - regulates temperature like nothing else. Icebreaker are the best.
- Happy hands - gloves which stop the windchill are what you need. Cold aching hands ruin any bike ride. Look for "Gore Windstopper" on the label.
- Happy feet - wool rich socks are the best - they stay warm even when you get wet feet, dry out fast and resist odour.
- A good waterproof jacket - if you're only going to waterproof one part of your body, make it your torso. You can cope with wet legs and feet, but a cold, wet upper body is bad news - keeping misery and hypothermia at bay is all about keeping your core temperature stable. My tip of the moment is a "Softshell" jacket - waterproof or thereabouts, highly breathable and windproof, insulating (but not overly so) and mega quick drying. Google ‘softshell jacket' and take your pick.