The days are shorter, the temperature has dropped and its usually wet, windy, or both.
Winter can be horrible for anyone into an outdoor based hobby but with bikes, it’s a nightmare. It gets dirty, it gets everywhere, and it often leads to days spent cleaning your gear, and your bike after a ride.
Thoughts of all the above when you wake up leave you with a feeling beginning with a well know phrase that rhymes with duck hat.
The winter is where you get fitter, more skilled on a bike and can really improve yourself as a rider and a performer for the summer. With that in mind, here are my top 5 tips on how to make your riding more fun in the winter.
1: Ride with mates.
It goes without saying, having mates not only makes you get out of bed, it also gives you someone to share the pain with, get out and arrange a ride with mates, endure the grim conditions together and have a brew/pint after. When your done, you will be glad you did it.
2: Visit trail centres.
Trail centres are perfect for winter riding – managed, purpose-built trails that don’t degrade as much as natural terrain in the winter.
This means you won’t have to plan your route around the conditions or your time constraints, as you know how long it takes to get there, ride, and come home. They also come equipped with cafe’s or you can pass the golden arches on the way, meaning you don’t have to prepare food and can shoot straight there.
Purpose built, well maintained trails with food already there. Perfect!
Even better, share the drive with a mate and they can pay for parking or fuel. Job done.
3: Layer up.
Winter doesn’t have to mean buying £100000’s worth of specialist clothing.
A lot of people get worried that winter gear will cost a fortune but fear not. Layer up with a base layer t shirt and leggings, these are a great way to keep warm while your body is moving at a decent rate, it will keep your temperature up and allow you to enjoy your ride.
Also, don’t worry about expensive gloves. I personally ride in snow boarding gloves if the weather is garbage, I don’t have as much feel on the grips, but I do have warm hands, and that’s more important than Strava times to me. So, re use old kit if you have it, if you don’t. Kieran rates Aldi’s riding gloves, they also sell snow boarding gloves for a fiver. So, drop on those deals if you don’t want to buy expensive winter gloves.
Avoid the latex glove under a normal glove trick, it loses all feeling in the grips and feels awful.
Layer up with clothing if its cold but dry, a base layer, riding jersey and elbow pads can be more than enough for me if my hands and toes are warm (again snow boarding socks for the win here).
If it’s wet, and cold, and windy I’ll throw on a jacket. I personally don’t own a riding jacket as I rarely feel the need for one. I do wear a heavy duty Berghaus jacket that I walk in. I wore this and a fox jersey on my recent race at BPW and it felt fine, not too hot, not cold and bloody dry! Great buy. So, I’ll wear that until I crash and ruin it, then I’ll buy a bike jacket. Job done, money saved.
Layer up, re use old kit!
4: Keep your rides short and sharp.
When the daylight hours are few and far between and the weather is rubbish. Get out on shorter, more intense rides that you can use to improve your fitness.
If I feel tired, or demotivated to ride the bike I will just get it out and put in a short (10-12 mile) blast. I have a few I can do from my house or from work in Sheffield and these serve me well when I don’t want to plan a route, or when I just want to get it over with.
Keep them short and sweet, then you can hose the bike down and job done.
5: look after your bike!!!!!
We all have that friend who is a nightmare on a ride because something feels wrong or is broken, simply due to maintenance. When your bike is put through the harsh conditions, it will need more maintenance. Don’t be the annoying friend.
It is even more annoying when your bike breaks during a ride and you notice issues that could simply be ironed out by performing basic maintenance on the bike; were not talking full strip downs, just, look after it.
Clean the mech properly and get rid of all the crap that gets in it, wipe the steerer tube out underneath the headset with a baby wipe instead of spraying it with water, hose it down, clean the brakes every now and then, wd40 your drive train when you finish riding to prevent it rusting. Just look after your bike. It will run smoother and will prevent mechanicals that need to be fixed in the cold, wet conditions, which make rides end quicker, more expensive and less enjoyable.
So, there you go, five ways to make your winter more fun, or at least more bearable. Let us know if we have missed anything out in the comments below, or get in touch with us at @roamingloam to let us know what you think.