I’m trying to think of another sport where cold, wet weather seriously ruins the fun as much as cycling. Maybe on the wing playing rugby, in goal or maybe skiing.
The combination of cold hands and feet, wet backside and not being able to see or stop whilst on a bike can lead to you asking yourself: Why?
Throw in a headwind as well and you might consider wall papering as a positively joyous alternative leisure pursuit. To be honest, I love my cycling but if it’s cold and wet outside, I wouldn’t bother.
Except that when the summer arrives you’re 10kg overweight (maybe more), have no miles in the legs and you might as well bin the spring / summer cycling as well.
So you have to brace yourself and just get out there.
Here’s how to lock the Excuses Box and throw away the key:
If it’s cold and wet outside it’s also probably dark, you need to be seen to be safe. By ‘safe’ I mean ‘cool’. There are some great bike lights out there – lasers, strobes and ones that light up your wheels. Kit your bike out like a Christmas tree, you’re going to want to ride it in the dark of winter. And because it’s dark you can put mudguards on your bike (as no one can see them) and say good bye to soggy shorts. Clip-on mudguards like Race Blades work well on most bikes and can be easily removed when the sun is shining.
Get some tights (no, not the stocking variety). Either long Bibshorts or 2XU or Skins compression tights take the chill off and keep legs warm. Whilst we’re talking kit, invest in some waterproof overshoes, waterproof / wind proof gloves and a headband for your ears to keep all the extremities covered.
Commuting is a great way to get the miles in without noticing but it’s easy to take the car or train instead – especially during winter. Take away the excuses by getting your kit ready the night before.
When its hosing it down or the sleet is in your eyes, ignore it and think about your cycling targets for the year and how this ride (in the rain) is getting you in peak condition. Remember no pain, no gain.
No, quite literally there is no stopping. The roads are going to be wet and potentially icy, so remember your stopping capability is seriously impaired and cars stop a whole lot quicker than you and that corner on the hill you normally take at 30mph in the dry – best slow it down.
...but technology is there to help us, use the weather apps on your phone to identify that small window of opportunity to get out there during the fleeting break in the clouds.
Rather than the usual ride out into the sticks, go urban, explore your own backyard in the town or city. The roads dry quickly, are less likely to be icy or muddy and are often empty early at the weekends. Mountain biking is great fun in the wet and the mud, sliding the rear wheel, improving your bike handling on wet tree roots. For some reason the ice cold puddles and the deep mud doesn’t seem as terrible on a mountain bike. Some might even argue it adds to the fun.
Lastly, remember - skin is waterproof. No excuses.
no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothes! Great article, but I agree that black ice should definitely stop play.
Anything to make cycling safer is good. My partner has fallen off a few times too. He now has winter tyres and that has helped.
I came a cropper on my bike on black ice. It was on a corner but I wasn't going that fast. So yes you definitely need to take care.
I would definitely agree with the proper gear tips. Ever since investing in a proper cycling waterproof jacket last year it's much more enjoyable - and significantly drier!
I always struggle with the heat when it's raining - I always end up going home early as I'm too hot and bothered, these tips are really handy thanks!