By Sigma Sports
Don’t let the cold and snow stop you from reaping the benefits of cycling throughout the winter. Whether you decide to log some miles commuting to work or riding snowy trails, it’s a fantastic way to exercise the body, mind, and soul.
The experts at Sigma Sports have come up with some simple tips to help you prepare for and stay safe during a winter bike ride.
1. Wear the appropriate footwear. In the winter months it’s much easier to end up with wet feet or cold toes when out cycling. Be sure to invest in a good pair of thick socks and some non-slip shoes. This should help to keep your feet warm and dry but also prevent them from slipping on the bike pedals.
Cycling shoes specifically should be considered for those looking for a more direct connection between their foot and the pedal; they have a stiffer sole which improves power transfer. The use of lightweight and breathable materials is also extremely beneficial when it comes to performance in a wide range of conditions.
2. Incorporate supplements into your diet. It’s easy to push yourself too hard when it comes to exercising in the colder weather and this climate can put more of a strain on your body and make you more susceptible to colds or viruses. Therefore, it’s important to try and keep your immune system in top condition. To fight the onset of illness, use daily supplements, such as vitamin D or zinc. This will help to ensure your health is the best it can be when exercising at this time of year.
3. Layer up. The key to cycling in winter is wearing lots of layers on your top half. Several layers of thin, technical fabric are much better and more efficient at trapping heat in than one thick garment. This also means if things get too warm then you’re able to remove one layer at a time and adjust to your comfort. A base layer worn tight against the skin draws moisture away, a mid-layer – such as a long-sleeved jersey – traps warm air, and finally an outer jacket works as your main defence against the elements, be that a barrier to the wind, rain, or both. Although windproof and waterproof jackets help to retain body heat, using a fleece-lined or synthetic insulation jacket will add even more warmth when riding in chilly weather.
4. Wear gloves. Nobody wants the discomfort of cold hands whilst cycling so invest in some decent quality gloves to shield your hands in the chillier weather. With a higher chance of wetness in the winter, it’s a good idea to purchase a pair of cycling gloves that are waterproof as well as warm to fully protect your hands from the elements.
5. Use lights. Shorter days in the winter shouldn’t deter you from taking your bike out. A good set of bike lights can illuminate the road or trail ahead and ensure your trajectory is clear of potholes and other obstacles and make you more visible to other cyclists and road users so make sure that you have some on your bike.
6. Drink lots of fluids. Despite the weather being colder, there is still a risk of dehydration when cycling in the winter months. Have a lot of fluids during the day and make up any liquid lost after a cycling session. As a rough way to ensure you are hydrated, weigh yourself before and after the session and for every half a kilogram lost look to take on 500ml of fluids.
7. Keep your bike in good condition. Before taking your bike out for any trips this winter, it’s worth giving it a quick check for any issues. Make sure that the wheel rims, brakes, gears, and chain are all in working condition and clean off any dirt or grit before using it. Also book an appointment with your local bike store mechanic in preparation for winter to ensure that your bike is in suitable condition.