Top tips for Winter Commuting
by Dave Land, posted 10 December 2018

Change your clothing, sort your bike, but most of all, change your head. It's not that bad out there. honest! 

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The nights are dark, the mornings aren’t much better, and the weather's getting worse by the day. Now is the time to remind yourself what a tough cookie you are. Here are JRtB’s top tips to keep going through the winter months, when spring seems a lifetime away. Firstly, ‘winterise’ your bike, secondly ‘winterise’ yourself and thirdly, ‘winterise’ your brain.

 

Winterise your bike
  • Mudguards are relatively cheap and very easy to fit. There are lots of types and styles on the market, none of them look that good, almost all of them are surprisingly effective.

  • Clean the chain and cogs (use the right kit and so on). The crud and salt on the road combine to make a vile paste which eats away at your bike’s moving parts.

  • Get some decent lights, front and rear (which is a legal requirement anyway). If you go through any unlit areas, then get a more powerful front light that you can actually see by. (The C&BSeen ones are our favourites, price wise).

  • Get your bike serviced before the winter, it will be so much better to know that your bike is prepared.

  • Book a service in ready for when it all ends (March, April … June?).

 

Winterise yourself
  • Jackets – worth spending some money on, to keep your core warm. It’s likely to be water repellent, but possibly not waterproof. The more expensive, the more breathable they are. It depends on your ride and riding style, but get something to keep you warm.

  • Waterproof layer – instead of making your jacket waterproof, you could get a separate waterproof; a thin top layer for when it’s actually raining. Get something tiny and packable. We have used this Altura one. Its super small.

  • Hats – We tend to favour skull caps – there are at least five knocking about the office – for under helmets. Do get ones that cover your ears. These are life savers.

  • Gloves – windproof certainly, probably waterproof, definitely insulated. You could do the ‘crab-claw’ ones which put fingers together. You can’t feel the handlebars so well, but this is a small price to pay for warm hands. If you’re really struggling with this, then what about some hand warmers?

  • Socks - woolly, thick, comfy – providing they’ll fit in your shoes. You could try waterproof ones. These cost more than normal socks, and we’ve discovered, they don’t stay waterproof if you keep washing them, but staying dry is most of the way to staying warm (not all the way obviously).

  • Overshoes – if you’re prepared for an almighty faff session then overshoes, which are worn, well, over your shoe, are a great addition, get the ones that add warmth and some water repelling properties. Avoid the thin one’s the racing people buy just for aerodynamic properties. The plethora of holes means they aren’t wellies, but they can be pretty good. For less faff, but less coverage, there are toe covers on the market.

  • Buff/Snood - great for keeping your neck and face warm and wind protected. Available everywhere.

Winterise your brain

This can be a tough call when it’s raining and dark and cold when you step out the door, and you’re wondering why you don’t get a chauffeur driven limousine to work like you’d always imagined. No matter:

  • What you’re doing is getting your exercise done during the day. No driving back out to the gym after you’ve arrived home, or, worse still, staying in feeling guilty. You can stay in and curl up, knowing you’re already fit and sorted for the day.

  • You’re putting in lots of riding time that others aren’t doing, and the cycle paths (if you have any) are noticeably quieter. If you cycle at other times, then think about it as putting the miles in your legs before the season restarts.

  • Even when you’re wet, commutes don’t last forever, and once you’re dry and warm again, you are allowed maximum smug points.

  • We can’t give in to the car lobby so easily. Keep cycling past all the stationary vehicles. They’ll be even more of them in wintry weather.

  • Being out in the frost and snow can be beautiful, life affirming and hugely satisfying – especially if you have the right kit.

  • The longer you stop for, the harder it is to get going again. So don’t stop!


 

There you go, a few tips from us, as experienced cyclo-commuters, about the things we do to cope with riding all year round. Stay strong, Just Ride the Bike.

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