It is nearly that time of year already! the days are getting shorter and the long cold nights are looming closer but fear not; this does not mean an end to riding. All it means is; you will need to be more prepared when going for a ride. When summer rolls along not only will you greet it with open arms you will be fitter, stronger and really appreciate riding in your summer kit or shorts and a T-shirt.
Riding throughout the winter can be one of the hardest challenges in cycling. If you’re more serious about cycling then getting those base miles in can be a nightmare, it involves a lot of commitment but most importantly the right gear. There are a few items that I believe are essential for winter riding and whilst having a winter bike is nice I am not including this in my list. So you should be able to get prepared for winter without completely breaking the bank. The following tips are just that, so don’t take my word as gospel. I recommend things I have tried or believe to be effective. I will be reviewing a heap of winter gear over the next few months so stay tuned if you want more specific information.
1. A good base layer is essential and you wouldn’t believe the difference a good base layer can make. You will hear a number of people raving about how good marino is though personally I find poly fibre blends and synthetic better suited to cycling, especially if you are doing long training rides. Though this is all down to personal preference and a bit of trial and error won’t go a miss, I would recommend the Assos LS Skinfoil.
2. A decent waterproof jacket is vital, something made out of Gore Tex is essential. Gore Bike Wear make terrific jackets, I have been using the same one for the past 5 years! Make sure you get one that is breathable otherwise you will be riding along wetter on the inside than out.
3. Mudguards, I get too hot in waterproof trousers and whilst if the rain is absolutely torrential then I might don a pair otherwise decent mudguards will suffice. Now these come in various shapes, sizes and fixtures some bikes have eyelets to attach them to making installation a breeze, though most high end road bikes do not have these so you will need to opt for a pair that come with their own mounts.; such as the SKS Raceblades. I must warn you fitting can be a nightmare so seek advice from you local bike shop if you are unsure before purchasing.
4. Over shoes or waterproof shoes, I personally prefer the latter. Overshoes tend to only last a winter the constant pulling them on over…well your shoes destroys them as does walking in them and to top if off you still have holes in the bottom of your shoe to attach cleat to. Whilst you can get really good ones your feet often end up sweating profusely and mine personally would be more comfortable and drier without. So my tip is get some water proof cycle shoes, there is quite a variety out there I haven’t tried them all but I would look towards either the Lake CX145 Road or MX145 MTB, or if you want full on toughness the MXZ303 though this is only available in 2 bolt cleat pattern.
5. Last but not least are a decent set of lights I would highly recommend the Knog Blinders, read a full review here. There are a heap of brands and lights available, though things I would look for are; rechargeable, long battery life and high lumen output.
Now with these tips in mind, have a scout about at some product. Find something you like and ride your bike all winter. If you want more advice email me via the contact page or stay tuned as I will be reviewing some winter essentials over the next few weeks.