How to prepare for winter cycling – #FOGO? There’s no excuses!

how-to-prepare-for-winter-cycling

How to prepare for Winter cycling SG style!

‘FOGO’ – Fear Of Going Out

The dark nights and bad weather are drawing in, Winter is here and most of us despise it! But it shouldn’t stop you from getting out on the bike. Don’t let ‘FOGO’ get a hold of you! Below is a guide we’ve put together to help you prepare for Winter cycling and keep you smiling all Winter long.

It’s very easy to just stay inside watching the latest box set but we shouldn’t let it happen! It’s been proven that most, if not all of us become unhappy during the Winter. There are many reasons for this but the obvious is the dark nights and poor weather conditions. However, a massive part of the unhappiness is the lack of activity and socialising.

In Summer, we’re always out and about, doing things from early until late. The weather is good and we don’t stay indoors lounging around like we do in Winter. We’re continuously exercising, keeping active and socialising with others (real others not TV others) and this is what keeps us healthy and smiling. Something that’s lost during Winter.

We have written this to help you combat ‘FOGO’, so please share! From a cyclists point of view, cycling in Winter can be daunting, even for the strongest of riders. Rain, cold weather, slippery surfaces, poor visibility and lack of motivation don’t exactly make a positive recipe for riding….?

Here’s how to prepare for Winter cycling.

Those of you who don’t like riding in the winter, ask yourself why?

  • Cold/ wet/ dirty
  • Slippery Roads
  • Poor Visibility
  • No motivation
  • No-one else rides in winter

All of these typical excuses are down to poor mental discipline. If you really wanted to do something, you would go and do it, wouldn’t you? All of the above points are actually easily overcome and here’s how we’re going to do it!

Drop all negative thoughts

Firstly throw any negativity out the window! Why do we ride?…… Because it’s fun! Get’s us from a to b, keeps us healthy, it’s an escape from life, brings back childhood memories and it’s a way of socialising and adventuring. Don’t lose sight of that! If you forget everything in this post just try and remember this one thing…. to keep happy and healthy, you need to be exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes per day! This does not include the time between getting up off of the sofa retrieving snacks while boxset bingeing….. It’s 30 minutes per day of non-day to day activities. i.e cycling, running, swimming, football, gym etc…

Getting cold & wet from riding in the rain

If getting wet is the main cause of bike neglection then this is fairly easy to address. Ultimately,  you’re going to get a little wet no matter what just accept it. There are some simple ways to minimalize how wet and cold you get:

Most importantly, make sure you have an arsenal of warm, water-resistant cycle clothing. We offer a clothing range called ‘Orkaan’, it’s made from a waterproof fabric – it works so well that I spend most of my time watching the water bead straight off. Sad…. I know!  We also have a great jacket and tights collection called Climb & Conquer, which is thicker and designed to keep you warmer at much lower temperatures compared to the jerseys.

It would also be a good idea to get a set of waterproof gloves, socks and overshoes. They’re products we don’t currently over but are in the pipeline, so keep an eye out!

Getting the bike & myself dirty from road debris

  • Mudguards
  • Water resistant clothing
  • Winter bike

Getting dirty is no excuse to stop riding, yes it’s a pain to wash but you can resolve this easily – fit mudguards….. Mudguards are the norm for cycle clubs in winter. Designed to keep yourself and other riders clean, to stop spray from causing bad visibility and to channel water, dirt and debris away from the bike components and other road users. There have been several cases where people (not using mudguards) have been seriously hurt/ permanently blinded from objects pinging up from a tyre and into their eyes. We know mudguards aren’t the prettiest of things but be courteous to your fellow riders.

As well as having mudguards, wearing water-resistant clothing can help prevent you getting dirty. The waterproofing properties of the fabric will reject wet dirt, stopping it from sticking to the clothing.

If you’re worried about destroying your carbon racer during the winter-hack months then get yourself a cheap road bike or even an adventure bike! Read Tim’s post about adventure riding here! Remember the N+1 rule or if you’re married the S-1 rule. S being the number of bikes that will cause one’s spouse or significant other, to terminate the relationship.

By training with a cheap(er), heavy bike during Winter, when it comes to Summer you will fly on your lightweight, Summer carbon racer! ;’)

Slippery Roads

  • Winter riding mode
  • Winter tyres

stolen goat are miracle workers but unfortunately, we can’t stop slippery roads or morning frost. We can, however, give advice from a personal point of view on how to ride in these conditions.

If you’re going to ride during the Winter, remember…. you’re not immune from slippery surfaces. It does get slippery and even the most experienced riders can go down, so always be aware. Keep away from metal drain covers and painted markings on the road, these can become very slippery when wet or iced upon. Also, try and stay out of the shadows in the mornings. Normally the shadows are still frosty and slippery, whereas the parts of the road in sunlight have usually thawed out, making for more grip.

Cornering while the roads are slippery is always a nerve-racking time. However, just remember to slow your steering (no fast, sharp movements or your tyres will lose traction). Keep as upright as possible (no hard leaning into the corners, again, you could lose traction).

Purchase a Winter wheelset/ tyres. There are many Winter tyres on the market so do some research. The principle behind a Winter tyre is to give more grip, disperse water and offer better puncture protection. The compound of rubber between a Winter and a Summer tyre is completely different. The Winter tyre compound is extremely tacky and soft, this grips better on wet, icy surfaces. Whereas a Summer compound is harder for less rolling resistance. If you used a Summer compound during Winter then the tyre wouldn’t grip as much because there is no give in the rubber. Which in turn would lose traction easier, causing the tyre to slip. A Winter compound is soft and gives more on road contact and has specific grooves and cut-outs on the top and sides. This disperses water from the tyre quickly, giving maximum tyre contact to the road. Lastly, Winter tyres are made with many different layers to help grip the road and add more puncture protection. Continental claim they have 7 different layers in one of their winter tyres.

Poor Visibility

  • Good set of lights
  • Reflective clothing
  • Winter Glasses

Poor visibility can be dangerous and affect you in a few different ways. It can be hard for you to see and or be seen.

Make sure you own a good set of lights. I personally use a Bontrager Flare R for the rear and a Cateye volt 1500 on the front. Like a car, it helps to have the front light lower down than normal when foggy. This helps brighten further ahead instead of illuminating the fog in your face. Try it for yourself and see the difference it makes in foggy conditions.

My rear light was designed as a daytime running light. It’s very bright and can be seen from a mile away during the day, but, it’s far too bright for the night. It’s recommended to turn the brightness down not to annoy drivers behind. However, in overcast or foggy conditions I would have it on the brightest setting.

You can never be too careful when thinking about safety on the roads, there are many products on the market that can help you be seen such as: reflective tape (can be stuck to clothing, the bike, helmet, shoes etc…..), a secondary rear light (up high on the helmet) and reflective clothing. Our Climb & Conquer jackets and Orkaan jerseys have reflective particles applied to the fabric which light up when light is shone on them. Read more about reflective clothing here.

As well as being seen, it can still prove hard to see during the Winter months. Many interchangeable sunglasses come with a yellow tint lens. It’s not a fashion thing, it actually helps improve vision in poor conditions. Make sure you dig them out! These lenses aren’t only used in cycling, lorry drivers that drive during the Winter or in the snow, wear yellow tinted glasses to improve their vision. The theory behind Yellow/Amber tint lenses, they reduce glare and improve contrast.

Lack of motivation

As much as I’d love to hypnotise you to motivate yourself … I can’t. Lack of motivation mostly comes from having previous unpleasant experiences in a situation. Hopefully, by following the steps above will help you have a better experience of Winter riding. And hopefully, in turn, this will help keep you motivated. Otherwise, I can try to hypnotise you…. no promises of what might happen though….. Be strong-minded, get out and ride!

Lack of other riders in Winter

Everyone likes cycling with a companion, especially when motivations are low, the other rider will be there to pick you up again. If no-one from your cycling group rides during Winter then break the mould! Be the first to just crack on and get out, chances are, they too, want to go out but need a little extra motivation. Get on Strava and make them jealous by racking up the miles!

Conclusion

There’s no excuse to stop riding in winter, keep active for 30 minutes a day to keep happy and healthy.

We hope these tips and tricks show you how to prepare for Winter cycling and help you get out over the coming months. If you can’t get on the bike then still try to be active. It will have a positive impact on your life and hopefully, it will encourage others too.

Please share this with everyone and get Winter cycling!

If you plan on going out in the worst of weather make sure you have a look at our Climb & Conquer capsule here!

Here are some of our recommended cold weather cycle clothing.