By Catherine Ellis, Hill & Ellis
Without jumping on your bicycle daily, you might miss winter altogether, staying inside or on public transport until March. But cycle and you will see more of the season and catch some vital vitamin D whilst you’re at it.
With Spring approaching, these five tips will allow you to fully enjoy the remainder of the winter season in the saddle…
Leaves and ice
There are still some leaves left on the road and they might look innocent, but they aren’t. In the winter months, the remaining leaves get slippery and icy.
Ice is also more likely to congregate at the side of the road, so cycle carefully near the gutter.
If you are on the backstreets, it might be quiet enough for you to cycle closer to the middle of the road which in the early morning is worth it, as any ice will have melted away towards the centre.
If it is icy or there are lots of leaves on the road, cycle in a lower gear for better traction.
Back sweat isn’t just for summer
In the winter, you will definitely end up wearing more so, if you are not careful, you won’t escape the back sweats.
You warm up quickly and, with a windproof jacket on and even a rucksack, you’re on the fast lane to back sweat alley.
So, don’t overdress. Invest in a pannier bag; not only will it keep everything dry but, as you can attach the bag to your bike (instead of carrying it like a donkey), you will avoid that sweaty back.
Get some strong lights and a back-up set that stays in your pannier just in case you forget to take them and are caught cycling home after sunset.
Reflective wear is also great. Get a reflective jacket, or add a band or gilet over your jacket. It is also worth considering permanently attaching some reflective details to your bike.
It’s easy to forget how hard it is to see you until you are in the driving seat of a car with headlights from oncoming traffic shining in your eyes.
It’s not that cold
There might be frost on the ground and your breath is condensing in front of you but, as soon as you start cycling, you will get hot.
So, don’t overdress from the outset or you will get sweaty and the rest of the day you will be drying off (and warming up)!
A lightweight but windproof jacket is perfect to keep you snug and trust me – take off that extra jumper, you won’t need it on the bike.
Pop it in your pannier bag until you get to work – that’s exactly what they’re for.
You just need to brace yourself for the first 10 minutes, but it will fly by and it’s good for the immune system.
Give your hands some love
If you have ever forgotten your gloves and cycled for longer than 15 minutes in the winter, you know exactly how important gloves are to enjoy cold-weather cycling.
That searing pain in your fingertips as the warmth at home tries to resuscitate your hands back to life virtually guarantees that you won’t forget your gloves ever again.
So, get some good gloves; they should be water-resistant or windproof. Don’t go mad and buy ski gloves – you will get too hot. You simply need a windproof layer to keep your hands happy and dry.
It’s also worth having a back-up pair stowed safely in the bottom of your pannier bag, which you can gleefully whip out when you have forgotten your first pair!
Take all these things into consideration and you’ll find that winter cycling can be a great way to get outside, see the season, soak up some vitamin D, and keep fit. All things that can be a little more challenging in the grey winter months.
Catherine Ellis is from Hill & Ellis, which produces a range of high quality, stylish cycle bags. Each bag, designed in the UK, is created to transition perfectly from home to bike to boardroom to bar. They are functional, fashionable and hard-wearing. There’s plenty of space inside for a laptop and other essentials, and each bag comes with patented pannier clips that fit almost any bike, allowing you to clip the bag on and off quickly and easily. Visit: www.hillandellis.com