Winter Ready, Set… Go!
Don’t let the shorter and colder days of autumn/winter stop you from getting out for a spin. Below are our top tips to keep you-you pedaling through til summer! So beat the winter blues and get outside!
The roads can be treacherous with all the extra standing water, grit & salt can get into your components and wear them down. but this shouldn’t be an excuse to skip your daily commute or weekend club ride. If you have any tips please leave them in the comments section below and share with us all!
Make sure your bike is right
Even for those that are not me, mechanically minded it is very easy to keep your bike right!
1. Keep it clean!
Grit and dirt are the enemy of every moving part on your bike especially the drivetrain (Chain, Chainwheel, Cassette/Freewheel and Derailleurs). To keep all of these components at their best it is important that they are clean from any dirt, sand or grit. A good wet lube (I use MucOff ceramic wet lube but nearly every company has their own version these days) suitable for an Irish winter is the best way to treat your chain after cleaning. If your chain need a good cleaning you can buy special de-greasers and chain cleaning tools.
Top Tip: Rinse down your bike after every use with some soapy water
2. Check your tyres
No matter what type of bike you ride your tyres are the only contact you have to the road and they are ultimately what stops you. Debris from roads this time of year (branches, grit etc…) could potentially result in a puncture and being stuck at the roadside in the cold and wet having to fix it , before each cycle make sure your tyres are free from anything that might cause a puncture.
3. Be Safe Be Seen
At this time of year there are many factors that will make a cyclist less visible on the road.
Shorter days, low level blinding sun, rain and spray from vehicles. It is a requirement under law to have a set of reflectors on your bicycle. The next requirement under law is that you must use lights up to an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset, however common sense dictates that you should probably use lights all day over the winter months.
Being visible on the road isn’t just about having lights and high visibility clothing. Sometimes you may need to take a position on the road to keep yourself and other road users safe. Make sure you are up to date with your rules of the road on the Road Safety Authorities website here
Top Tip: Always carry a spare set of batteries for your lights in your saddle bag, you never know when you will need them.
4. Stay Warm and Dry
Depending on what type of cyclist you are this could mean a very different number of things. The one thing you will all have in common is that you will need to layer for the weather. Layering will usually consist of a Base layer Layer Mid layer – an Outer layer
Base layers – are designed to be worn next to your skin and to wick to the next layer, keeping the layer next to your body dry, keeping you comfortable. These can be made form many many materials both synthetic (polypropelene) or natural (merino wool).
Cotton is not a good base layer as it will hold onto too much moisture and will not wick as effectively as other materials. There are many different grades of base layer available either for warm weather use if you are going to be active or cold weather use if you are going to be static and everything in between. Always ask fir advice when buying.
Mid Layers – are generally though of as your insulation layer. Obviously the level of insulation you will need is greatly dependent on the activity you are undertaking. The most popular insulation’s cycling are – Fleece (lots of different weights available) Synthetic hollow fiber (down substitutes). Synthetic down is more suited to activities than down as it will not retain moisture and will wick effectively.
Outer Layer – There are any amount of outer shells for sale from lots of different companies. The most important thing to not is that most membranes (GorTex etc…) are windproof as well as being waterproof. Even within the GorTex range they have many different shells for many different uses. These days there is lots of hybrid shells on sale i.e. a jacket that is Waterproof on the back and shoulders but has breathable soft shell parts where you need it to be more breathable. Soft shells are popular as they offer some wind/rain protection but are much more breathable, the trade off being that they are not usually fully waterproof. Always be sure to ask before you buy.
Top Tip: Fit your bike with a set of Mudguards! They may not look cool but they will certainly keep all that road spray off your back 😀
Get out there and stay safe!