When the wet weather rolls in, its time to say goodbye to the lightweight summer jerseys, hang up your vented gilet and maybe consider swapping those fingerless gloves for something a little warmer.
In Manchester, rain is never too far away. Even our sunniest mornings can precede the rainiest afternoons. However, despite all the rain, we see plenty of cyclists making their daily commute regardless of the wind, rain or freezing temperatures. With our winter riding tips there should be no reason you too cant keep riding long after the weather turns against you.
Probably the most obvious piece of wet weather clothing is a high quality jacket. A waterproof outer layer will help protect your base layers, and keep you warmer for longer. We suggest layering up in the winter, as a waterproof jacket can soon turn the toasty cyclist into a more “boil in the bag” type. As long as your top layer keeps the water out, you can add or remove base layers as you see fit.
While riding, its probably fair to say that your legs are playing a big part in getting you where you are going. Keeping your muscles warm will make for easier riding and a more enjoyable experience. We would recommend over trousers for those wanting to wear their everyday clothes while riding, or a quality pair of tights for those riders who need to look the part while in the saddle
How wonderful are modern helmets? Great aesthetics keep you looking stylish and venting technology keeps your head cool while you ride. When the freezing rain starts to fall though, those vents become less of a luxury and more of a source of misery. We know that buying a new helmet isn’t exactly the best solution, but there are alternatives. Wearing a hat underneath a helmet can keep the rain at bay while you ride, and still allow you the safety of wearing a helmet.
The last thing you want after a tiresome commute into work is to sit in wet shoes or socks all day, or to be carrying round spare shoes and socks unnecessarily. A quality pair of overshoes would mean you can cycle in whatever shoes you feel most comfortable in, and still be dry when you reach your destination.
Anyone who has ever forgotten their gloves on a particularly frosty day will be able to testify to how uncomfortable it can be trying to warm back up again. A good pair of gloves will keep your hands warm and dry, and shouldn’t compromise your dexterity while riding. Just remember, your vented summer gloves may seem like a good idea, but all those holes let the heat out and water in.
In the winter the moving parts on your bike are going to be in for a hard time as salt, grit and water begin to become commonplace on your ride. A quick wash and then protective application of degreaser followed by a quality lubricant on any moving parts will help to extend the lifespan of your bicycle and protect your beloved bike from the elements. Just make sure not to get any lubricant near your breaks and do your best to avoid water in your bottom bracket (Don’t spray pressurised water directly onto it).
In the winter you might need a little more traction on the roads, and we would recommend achieving this by slightly lowering your tyre pressure, as this provides more of a surface area to grip the road in wet or icy conditions. Be warned, lower tyre pressure means you may pick up more rubbish off the roads, and may be susceptible to more punctures if you arent careful. Avoid riding to close to the side of the road where all the dirt and glass will build up and take a more primary position, this will not only help avoid those pesky punctures, but also help other road users see you this winter providing you have…
8. Quality Lights
Whether you ride down dark country lanes or across a well lit urban cycleway, you will need lights this winter. Not only is it the law to have lights on your bike after dark, its just the sensible thing to do when the winter months reduce road visibility. Make sure you spend a little more to get yourself some bright, long lasting and waterproof lights. These are one of those items you can’t afford to compromise on.
9. General Riding
This winter make sure to be extra careful on your rides. The added strain on the roads of more water and freezing temperatures may mean that the small dip in the road that you usually just ride over, may now be a deep, water filled, wheel buckling, bone breaking pot hole. For the sake of safety and your own warmth, avoid riding through water where possible. You should also consider how water will affect your own riding style. Your vision may be impaired and your breaks may take a little longer to stop you, so a little more caution could be necessary. Its easy to “switch off” and ride on autopilot on familiar stretches of road, but you need to remember that other road users may also be on autopilot too, a patch of ice, an unexpected puddle or condensation on mirrors or windows could lead to a sudden wake up call.
Make sure to take care this winter, pay attention to the roads and most of all, look after yourself!