Top tips for winter cycling
Shorter days and a change in the weather can seem like an easy excuse to put your bike away until spring, but following just a few simple tips will make staying in the saddle this winter as easy as riding a bike.
Remember you don’t have to cycle the whole way. There’s always the option of riding part of your journey and then catching a train or bus.
Don’t let the weather get the better of you. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, so the saying goes. Keeping dry and warm will make a huge difference so wear lots of thin layers, and pack some waterproofs, a decent pair of gloves and a warm hat or headband. Longer-term you might want to consider investing in some waterproof shoes (or overshoes), but in the meantime packing a spare pair of socks and shoes to change into will do the trick.
Be seen. It might sound like an obvious one but make sure you always have a working set of lights to hand. There are plenty of options to choose from including USB rechargeable lights. It’s also worth carrying a spare set of lights or batteries so you don’t get caught short. Many people choose to wear reflective clothing, belts and strips. If you cycle in everyday clothes try and choose a light colour to increase your visibility.
Plan your route. Cycling need not involve tackling busy roads but your route choice may vary between the seasons, from a more scenic route in the summer months to, for example, a well-lit, gritted route, such as the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway, during winter. Plan your route with our handy online map.
Recruit a bike buddy. If someone you know already cycles ask them which routes they use or even better ask them to ride with you as a bike buddy. Cycling with others can provide some extra motivation during the winter months.
Make sure your bike’s in good health. Make sure everything is in working order and well lubricated. The salt contained in road grit can damage bikes so think about using mudguards and rinse your bike regularly to prevent any build-up. Consider switching to tyres with more tread. Letting some air out of larger tyres increases their grip too. Sustrans 11-step M-Check is a good place to start or if in doubt take your bike for a once over at your local cycle shop.
Last but not least, enjoy it! Cycling to work can save you time and money, and it has been proven to boost health and happiness. What’s not to love?