Wet, dark and icy conditions are hardly the most enticing invitations for mounting your bike during the winter months. But inclement weather doesn’t need to stop your progress and leave you running for the nearest bus. There are many safety tips you can be mindful of to ensure you’re still clocking up the cycling miles and bracing the elements through the UK’s long winter. Here are our top tips, so that you can enjoy rather than just endure the colder cycling climes.
Light up, light up!
Ensure that you are abiding by UK law when cycling in the dark. Increased visibility during the winter months is paramount so that motorists and motorcyclists are constantly aware of your presence. Of course, it is UK law to have high powered lights in the form of a white front light and a red rear light on your bike in times of darkness, but there are other ways to stay luminous, such as by wearing reflective clothing.
Take extra care when cycling by tram tracks
Just like the harsh weather, tram tracks can be unforgiving. Your wheels could get stuck, or perhaps even worse, you could skid over icy tracks. Slow and steady wins the race. As much as we’d like to encourage you to brave the cold, sleet and rain, to err on the side of safety it is probably best to avoid cycling in very ice conditions.
Winter-proof your kit
Winter provides its own set of unique challenges, and numb thumbs are one of them. Not only are they an inconvenience, they could pose a hazard if you lose control of your bike. Invest in good quality gloves and thick socks to keep your extremities warm, and layer up to keep your torso warm; this way it is easy to stop and remove a layer if you are feeling too hot and stifled. Opt for fabrics that are wind resistant and water proof.
A head’s up – don’t let the cold make you ditch your helmet
At Bott and Co, we know very well first-hand how the impact of wearing a helmet can be nothing short of life-saving (insert link to Ann’s piece). While a warm bobble hat may seem appealing, it won’t protect you in the event of an accident, and you should take extra caution when cycling in challenging conditions. Instead, invest in a helmet liner or skullcap so that you don’t neglect your noggin.
Don’t “muck up”
Mudguards on your wheels during the winter months can prevent the constant spray from mud onto your bike, your kit… or you! Neil Webb, Founder of Bowman Cycles says, “People are finally seeing the sense in protecting themselves and their bikes from the rain once the temperatures drop. As more people are coming into the sport it means more year-round cyclists, so it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to the need for mudguards.
“I tend to use full mudguards with extra long, ground-skimming flaps to keep my feet and the faces of those on my wheel as clean and dry as possible.”
Don’t blame it on the sunshine…
Of course there are less hours of sunlight during the colder months, and this can wreak havoc with your cycling schedule. If possible, try to avoid getting on your bike just as the sun is setting – as beautiful as the sunset may be, it could impair your vision and the visibility of those around you.