Knowledge Level: Beginner
You can find loads of great advice on getting the most out of your winter cycling in our free to download Ultimate Guide to Winter Training eBook but here are five must-do tips if you’re heading out for a winter ride.
A winter ride is a far more pleasant experience if your backside is dry and your feet don’t freeze and full length mudguards make a huge difference to both. They also do a great job of protecting your bike from road spray - reducing cleaning time for you and corrosion from salt. Even if your bike doesn’t have drillings, you can get clip-on guards for even the most aero frames. If you’re riding with a mate or in a group they’ll also appreciate not being constantly sprayed when following your wheel.
Look after your extremities
If your hands, feet and head are warm, the rest of you will feel warmer too. A windproof skull-cap or Belgian style cap under your helmet will make a huge difference or, if you run hot or have thick hair, try a headband for your ears. Don’t skimp when buying winter cycling gloves and overshoes or booties as cold hands and feet make any ride a misery.
Make sure you have lights
On a winter’s day, even if you don’t have them running all the time, having lights on you and ready to is a good idea. They can make a real difference to making you visible to other road users and, with unexpected fog, heavy rain or even snow to be expected in the winter, day can easily turn into night. Also, if due to a mechanical, navigational error or just getting lost in the moment of riding, you end up out longer than expected and night falls, you’ll be able to get home safely.
Good nutrition is key to performance on any bike ride but, in the winter, running out of energy in cold and wet conditions can have serious implications. You’ll also find that staying warm is far easier if you’re well fuelled.
Add some structure to your rides
The outdated dogma of just grinding out long and steady miles over the winter is thankfully finally being dispelled. The vast majority of riders will undoubtably benefit from maintaining some intensity in their training through the winter. This is best achieved using shorter interval style workouts during the week and including some efforts during longer weekend rides. This’ll not only mean you’ll be stronger in the spring but the variety will keep you more motivated.