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Winter Cycling – What to Expect and How to Prepare

Winter cycling is one of those things you probably thought about doing but never felt quite ready for it. If you are an avid cyclist, this experience is truly something you shouldn’t miss.
Of course, you need to be more than ready for all that winter can throw at you but the feeling you will get as you ride around surrounded by beautiful landscapes is more than rewarding enough.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things you can expect if you decide to cycle in winter and how you can be fully prepared for all the obstacles you may encounter.

Motivation Struggles

One of the biggest issues you will have to overcome is simply getting out the door of your warm, cozy home. Getting onto the bike when you know it’s freezing cold outside requires a lot of discipline and willpower. You will probably find yourself looking for the smallest excuse to skip your training, like not having your favorite jacket clean or not knowing where your socks are.

It doesn’t help that winter is generally responsible for psychological issues, especially Seasonal Affective Disorder. In fact, it is estimated that around 10 million Americans suffer from this condition caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, with many more who only show mild symptoms. While physical activity is one of the best ways of dealing with this problem , the lack of motivation can prevent you from doing so.

How To Prepare

Get your kit and gear ready the day before so you don’t have any excuse to ditch the session. Make a deal with yourself to always begin the training and give it at least 10-15 minutes. If you don’t feel like going on after that, you can stop, but you will usually feel good enough to do the full session at that point.

Keep your curtains open when you sleep so you can get some light as soon as you wake up and try to ride your bike during daylight hours. The lack of light is often a reason behind the lack of motivation and even Seasonal Affective Disorder. Also, if you suspect that you suffer from this condition, get in touch with your psychiatrist for additional help.

Cold Weather

Dealing with cold weather is obviously the biggest issue when it comes to winter cycling. Staying warm and dry is the one thing you need to focus on or you will quickly give up on the idea of riding your bike in winter.

How To Prepare

Luckily, there have been significant improvements when it comes to cycle clothing over the past decade or so, which means that you can protect yourself from freezing temperatures and elements with the right clothes.

The first thing to do is to layer up. That includes a base layer, mid-layer and a jacket. Of course, if you feel you need more layers, don’t hesitate to add them.

For the base layer, go with a moisture-wicking fabric that will keep your body dry. The mid-layer should be a thermal layer that provides the warmth but also lets the sweat vapor out. The jacket is probably the most important piece of winter clothing and if you can, invest in getting a high-quality, waterproof jacket.

To keep your legs warm, go with full-length bib tights. Don’t forget to protect your ears, hands and feet as well.

Safety Issues

Riding a bike in winter comes with many safety concerns. First of all, visibility in winter is often bad, even during daylight hours. Accidents caused by visibility are pretty common, especially in urban areas.

It is also easy to get sidetracked, particularly if you don’t ride in the urban areas. While you may not get lost so bad that you can’t find your way home, it is not a pleasant feeling when you realize that you are way off your target and that you will have to cycle more than you planned to.

How to Prepare

To improve your safety on the road in winter, you must make sure that you are clearly seen. That means that you need to have plenty of lights on your bike. Of course, you need to put the lights in the right places so they can be seen by the drivers and ensure that they are fitted properly.

If you are riding on a wet road, take into account the fact that you will need more time to stop when braking. Take additional care when you ride across manhole and drain covers or try to avoid them altogether because they can be very slippery when wet.

Make sure to check your trajectory and location often to avoid getting sidetracked too far since that may lead to riding longer or even cycling in the dark. Planning your journey ahead is another good way to stay on the track.

Gear Problems

Of course, having the proper equipment for winter cycling is crucial for success and safety. You can’t go out to ride your bike in winter if your bike is not in the best possible shape and if you don’t have special gear required for the road conditions that await.

How to Prepare

Tires are the most important part of your bike’s gear since you must have the appropriate tires if you want to ride in winter. There is a wide variety of seasonal tires you can choose from, or you can go with new, revolutionary Modular Tyre System from reTyre that allows you to replace the skin of your tires to suit the current terrain conditions.

It is important to keep your bike clean and wipe it daily to avoid rust. Clean your bike after every ride, as soon as you can to get off any mud, grit, salt and oil you may have gotten on it. Wipe and lubricate the gears and chain at least once a week if you have a bike with a derailleur. You can clean and lubricate the brake lines every few weeks.

Conclusion

Winter cycling can be a very difficult endeavor but it is also a great way to stay in perfect shape and be more ready than ever to tackle cycling when the spring comes around.

Exercising in winter is great for your body and mind and beautiful scenery you will encounter on your journeys will leave you wanting more, despite all the adversities you may face.

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