Colder temperatures and darker days are no reason to put away your bike for the season. While it can be a little more daunting to ride in the winter, there are a few things which can help make is possible. Indeed, cycling through the winter can be enjoyable, relaxing, and fun. Getting that extra bit of exercise can help get you through the darkest and coldest days, delivering you to work or home feeling fresh and revived. Here are a few ideas to help make it a good experience:
How to dress: layers, layers, layers!
The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable and you can find yourself cycling in the bright sun on the morning and a full on biblical storm the same evening. Layers will help you keep warm and enable you to peel off some bulk if the temperature goes up during the day, preventing you from sweating.
Carry waterproof trousers (some can fold up pretty small, so you can have them in your bag at all times), wet legs are the worst!
If it is pouring rain, consider getting a poncho. We like the ones from People's Poncho. Triple layer, good hoodie with a visor that fits over a helmet, comes in a little pouch fo easy carrying
Gloves protect your hands from the cold but also in case of a fall. A decent set of windproof gloves that don’t fit too snuggly or restrict your dexterity are best. Don’t get too worked up on waterproof; an insulating glove that still feels warm should it get wet is best. We like the Grip grab Merino gloves. Fantastic quality, dry fast and you can layer up.
Equip your bicycle
Riding with front and rear mudguards keeps mud from flying up your back. You can invest in full coverage mudguards (fit on most hybrids and gravel bikes such as below).
If you have a racer with minimum clearance, you can fit clamp on mudguards such as the Oxford Mudstop. Remove them during the summer if you wish (and if you trust Irish summers!)
With wetter grittier roads, a tyre with more grip and more puncture protection will make all the difference. Think Schwalbe Marathon for a good tread and keep the punctures out. For the ones who want to keep riding on slicks, fit one size up (from 25 to 28c for example), and with puncture protection (like Schwalbe Durano)
Winter days are shorter and darker. It's important that you can see and be seen on the road. Having a front and rear light is essential. It’s a good idea to use your lights in dim conditions, even if it is the middle of the day. Depending if your route has plenty of public lighting or not, we oscillate between the Infini Lave lights (USB rechargeable, fit in your pocket, bright enough to make sure you are seen, even in bright daylight) and Bookman Curve (very powerful - can be used during camping trips as a torch)
Not only does the Bookman look great on the bike but the lights spills out to created a wide beam so you are super visible. Its also rechargeable and weatherproof and will boost your confidence as well as your visibility when cycling at night
Adjust your riding
There are a few things you can do while riding which can help you stay safe:
- Reduce your tyre pressure for increased stability due to more tyre contact with the road
- Take it slow and brake early. It will likely take you longer to get where you're going when it is wet, so leave some extra time.
Winter cycling can be as much fun as riding at other times of year. With a bit of preparation, you’re good to go!