Winter is approaching and this means that you need to be properly equipped so that you don’t get cold while riding your bike. For many, the arrival of the cold means leaving the bike parked up until spring arrives, but that’s not the attitude to adopt. Carry on using your bike as a means of transport to get to work, ride around town, or go out to train. Don’t let the cold be an excuse for not riding your bike.
In this article, we give you some simple tips to combat the cold, kit yourself out appropriately and get out and enjoy cycling.
It is important to have a good plan, to know when you will use your bike and for how long. A good plan can avoid you going out in freezing temperatures and allow you to enjoy the warmth of the sun a little more.
Try to go out at midday, between 12 and 2.00 pm is when the sun is at its warmest and therefore you won’t be as cold as in the early or later part of the day. It is important to keep in mind how long you will be on your bike because, if you lengthen your ride too much, the cold will begin to affect you. You should always take some extra clothing, such as a windproof jacket, a gilet, a neck tube or some gloves to get some protection from the cold should the temperature begin to drop.
2. Prepare yourself
Before going out to enjoy your bike, prepare a good hot coffee or tea to raise your body temperature. Drinking something hot will raise your body temperature and make you feel more able to combat the cold.
Organise yourself and think about all the things you will need for going out, don’t forget the tools for repairing any potential puncture or breakdown.
3. La ropa
Having good equipment is essential for protection yourself from the cold during the winter months. But problems arise when you begin to perspire. Clothing should be breathable, adequately maintaining body heat while absorbing perspiration.
When you start to perspire, clothing begins to get wet and becomes the principal reason for your body temperature to drop, which is why you begin to feel colder than normal. Therefore it is important to have a good item of clothing that absorbs perspiration and is breathable.
The first layer of clothing should be a thermal vest which fits close to the body and, above all, that is not made of cotton. This is because, if cotton gets wet, it takes much longer to dry and this would make you feel damp and therefore, colder. The first layer could have long or short sleeves. A long sleeve is most recommended in order to maintain the temperature of the arms.
The second layer should be something that provides warmth without being excessively thick, and it should be breathable. An inner wool-lining or a thermal material lining is recommended.
The final layer that you wear should offer protection from the wind and the cold. Wind is a factor that makes you colder when cycling, as the feeling of heat is reduced when pedalling at high speeds. It is important that this item of clothing is a windbraker so that it prevents the wind penetration.
If you travel to work on your bike, it is convenient to take a change of clothes in your backpack or bag, so when you arrive you can put on something more appropriate for carrying out your work activities.
Accessories are items that facilitate and provide greater comfort when cycling. They have an important role to play during the winter in correctly protecting the parts of the body which are most exposed to the cold, such as the head, hands, feet and face.
It is important to correctly equip your body’s extremities, as these are the places where your body temperature reduces more rapidly. For the hands, you should have a good pair of long gloves that will protect your fingers from the cold as well as provide a greater level of comfort when holding onto the handlebars on the bike.
Another important accessory is shoe covers. Having cold feet is an unpleasant sensation, so it is important to keep them protected and avoid them being affected by the cold.
A neck tube, an under cycling helmet liner or a cap are accessories that provide you with greater warmth and prevent your body heat escaping through your head. At the same time, you can keep your ears and nose well protected from the freezing winter winds.
A crucial piece of information, and one which should not be ignored during winter bike rides, is to maintain good nutrition and hydration. When it is cold, it is very important to eat before and during the bike ride. When you are cold, your body uses up more calories and, because of this, you need to consume more calories. It is important to always take some food with you, for example, some fruit or energy bars. This has to be kept in mind, particularly if the route is going to be high-intensity or if it is going to take several hours to complete.
Another factor to keep in mind about nourishment during cold days is hydration. As a general rule, when we ride our bikes during the winter we tend to drink less water, but our bodies need to be well hydrated in order to maintain good muscle function and avoid muscles suffering from fatigue caused by dehydration. We recommend drinking frequently, every 20 or 30 minutes, even when you are not thirsty, and to combine this with salts or isotonic drinks to replace the salts and minerals lost through perspiration.
6. Make yourself visible
Throughout the year, it is essential to make yourself visible when riding your bike, but it is even more important to do this during the winter months as there are less daylight hours, and cars are less likely to think that they may come upon a cyclist in winter.
It is important to always have an illuminated rear light and an item of clothing that is visible and eye-catching so that you are noticed by any pedestrians and vehicles that you come across.
7. Well-maintained bike
It is very important to keep your bike in good condition before going out, and particularly, this is of the greatest importance during winter. You should ensure that the brakes are in good working condition, check the tyres are inflated to the right pressure so that they have the correct grip, and maintain all components of the bike in good order.
Keeping your bike in good condition will keep you safer when you use it and will lengthen its use.