With winter upon us, we’ve put our heads together and bring you our top tips for enjoyable winter cycling. Being properly kitted out and prepared for what the winter can throw at you is the key to getting the best out of winter riding. How can you enjoy the buildings of Oxford illuminated by the low winter sun or the colours in the hedgerows when you have cold feet and are worried in case you get caught out without lights?
So here goes with the tips!
- Make sure your tyres are in good condition because they are more likely to pick up flints and glass from the wet winter roads and this leads to punctures. If your tyres look worn, now is a good time to replace them. Many tyres are available with Kevlar linings to reduce punctures.
- You might feel cold as you start out riding, but don’t fall for the temptation of putting on too many layers because you’ll soon warm up. It’s much better to carry a spare layer that you can put on if you need to stop. You can always take it off again when you start. Layering your clothing allows more precise temperature control.
- Before you leave on a winter ride, check the “feels like” temperature on the weather forecast. This gives you a more accurate idea of what it will feel like on the bike than the actual temperature because it takes wind-chill into consideration.
- If the air temperature is at or below freezing, take care not to wear water-based face cream because it will freeze to your face when you start cycling. Instead, choose an oil-based cream.
- For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to carry lights, even if you have no plans to actually cycle after dark. You never know when you may be delayed. These days you can buy tiny LED lights for both the front and back of your bike which don’t need special mounting brackets and can be strapped on when needed. Pop them in your bag and they’ll be there if you need them. James Dawton of Oxford City Cycling UK has published a user-friendly guide to cycle lights, and Cycling UK has a more comprehensive guide to cycling in the dark.
Most important of all, don’t be put off by the winter weather. Winter cycling can be very enjoyable and uplifting. We try to continue our programme of rides all through the winter. However, occasionally when we feel that cycling may not be safe, we do cancel rides. Cancellations are always announced via an email to the Google Group, so if you are in any doubt, do check this before you leave for a ride.
Have a safe and enjoyable time cycling this winter!