Are you aware of the hidden risks of cycling in Winter?
Cycling in the winter is a very different experience than those long, hazy summer rides earlier in the year, when your primary concern was ensuring you had two bidons on your bike. Now there are additional considerations to make: warm clothing, appropriate tyres, slippery wet leaves, visibility on dark mornings and evenings, icy roads, and damp corners. Here are some winter cycling dangers to be aware of.
Extremely cold extremities
I recall last winter setting out on my bike from the house with the intention of doing a few loops of Richmond Park, and by the time I reached the gates, I had lost feeling in my hands and toes. This may seem like a self-evident symptom of cold-weather cycling, but after pushing on and reaching the first downhill, my fingers were immobile, making braking extremely difficult and hence risky.
Hands and toes bear a great deal of the brunt of harsh weather, and when they become painfully cold, there is just no fun left in a ride. This year, I’m going to invest in some good merino wool socks, insulated and toasty overshoes, and a pair of nice gloves.
Slump in motivation
You may discover that your summer enthusiasm for an early ride vanishes throughout the chilly months. Removing the drapes to reveal buckets of freezing rain and mornings shrouded in darkness may be completely demoralizing.
Winter celebrations also mean that we consume more food and alcohol, which may lessen your motivation in racing up hills with the same vigour that you did in July. The goal is to create incentives for yourself to get out and run some beneficial base miles that will put you in a strong position come spring.
It just takes one cycle to recall why you enjoy it, and sometimes the most calm and satisfying sunrises occur during the winter. Treating yourself to new equipment and organizing rides with a group of friends might help alleviate some of the stress.
Rides in the dark
As we are all aware, dark mornings and evenings are typical with the winter season, you must bring your own lighting to the party. Even during daylight hours, it might be cloudy with little visibility, which is why having the proper lights is critical for road safety.
The wrong clothes for base miles
Along with insulating our extremities from the chill, it’s probably a good idea to have a consistent body temperature. While popular belief holds that long, steady base miles are excellent winter training options, it’s also extremely cold, and the last thing you want is to be caught off guard and overtax your body.
- Multiple layers of clothes are the greatest method to insulate, and if you do get hot, arm warmers, snoods, and additional jackets can be stuffed into your back pocket.
- Merino wool base
- Layers keep you warm while still wicking away sweat, and bib tights with a high-waisted thermal lining protect your lower back and kidneys well.
- Warm caps that cover the ears and fit under a helmet are also excellent choices, as the head loses a lot of heat.
Roads that are wet and ice
In the winter, the ground might provide various safety hazards on your rides. Wet leaves, as well as patches of ice or even snow on the road, might be hazardous. It’s prudent to use extreme caution and keep an eye out for potential weather-related hazards that could cause you injury.
Take corners slowly and cautiously, and if you’re riding in a group, make sure you notify cyclists behind you to anything they might miss.
Always bring equipment in case of punctures, as being stranded on a chilly winter night is far worse than being stranded in the summer.
I’ve also upgraded my road bike’s tyres to a set of Gator Skins to eliminate the danger of a flat.
All of these winter dangers may seem like a lot of work, but if you can anticipate at least some of them, a winter ride may be rather lovely. The mental benefit of having risen and braced the elements will be extremely motivating, and you will be prepared to take on the new season head on!