Pro cyclists know how to survive irrespective of what the weather throws at them. From sunny days to cold drafts on a winter day. The question is if you are a casual cyclist, how do you ensure you stay warm when cycling in cold weather?! Let's take a look at solutions adopted by pro cyclists and answer all the questions you have to help you have an awesome ride outdoors!
Pro tips gathers from some members of the Vitus Pro Cycling Team in the Tour de Yorkshire, helped pin point 3 main things anyone can use to help guarantee a safe ride while keeping you warm. Before we reveal these unrivalled tips, let's check out what benefits cycling in cold weather could bring you.
Researchers have discovered that cyclists are considered to be happier people due to the balanced mind and body health. Winter cycling helps boost mental and physical fitness in ways basic exercise can not. It also increases the chances of you creating new memories, discovering new people, adventures and challenges.
Some other well-known benefits also include –
- Helps increase cardiovascular fitness.
- Helps increase muscle strength and flexibility.
- Helps improve joint mobility.
- Helps to reduce stress levels.
- Helps to improve posture and coordination.
- Helps to strengthen bones.
- Significantly reduces body fat levels.
So, what do we need to survive in your winter ride? Just follow these easy hacks to stay warm when cycling in cold weather.
Three Key Tips to Help Stay Warm When Cycling
Layer your clothing
The one key secret to staying warm when on a bike is layering. The sole purpose of layering your clothes is to retain heat within the layers of clothing.
Layering also allows the option to adjust to temperature changes by using;
- A base layer – Wearing a lightweight, chafe-free polyester-based wicking fabric (like this one here), right next to your skin will wick moisture away from the skin and help to keep you and your clothing dry. These high-quality fabrics cater to cyclists of all levels and are manufactured to recreate high-performance cycling. They help to avoid heat loss while riding.
- Mid layer – Wearing a thermal mid-layer (like this Trespass one) will help you stay warm for longer. These mid layers are often created with excellent polyester and modern synthetic fabrics that retain warmth and body heat.
- Outer layer – You do not necessarily need an outer layer to hold warmth in, if you plan on building up a sweat pretty quickly. They are, however, great for blocking the cold air and wind at the same time. If you do decide to go for a casual cycle ride and reckon you need one, then avoid using fabrics like wool and cotton which can get damp in the rain Choose a lightweight one (like this innovative jacket material) that is breathable and dries really quickly. Or look indoors for a nylon-type one which will serve the same purpose.
Cover your head
Studies say about thirty per cent of the body's heat is lost through the head. A giant amount of blood supply circulates through the head. Hence depending on how cold it is, keeping your head warm, will in-turn keep your body warm.
Ear bands (ear warmers) are a good cover-up choice. A skull cap or a cycling balaclava made using synthetic fabric is best to use as the base layer and helmet to cover it on top, which can be considered as an excellent lightweight remedy.
Wear Cycling gloves
Hands are the worst area of the body to get cold. A good recommendation would be to get a pair of air-activated hand warmers that heat up when you crack them and store them in your pockets if you are unable to cycle with gloves on. You can always then use hand warmers to warm your fingers during a short break or café stop to warm you up a bit.
Use shoe covers
Get some quality waterproof shoe covers made for cyclists. They often also come with wind-stopping fabric that helps keep cold air out. An alternative free option will be to wear multiple pairs of socks to make your shoes fit tight to your feet and to keep your feet warm when it is really cold.
Keep a spare
If the weather forecast says to expect rain, then a spare jacket would definitely come in handy. Especially in situations where there is a chance of surprise rains or storms.
Have a clear vision
Cycling in cold weather can make it extremely difficult to see when your glasses keep fogging up. It is indeed a good investment to get yourself a decent pair of anti-fog cycling glasses with a clear lens that you can switch between when the sun comes back up.
If you are not sure whether you have enough clothes, it is definitely a good idea to go outside before your ride to get a feel for how it feels outside.
2. Food and Drink
Use an insulated water bottle to store enough warm liquid for your ride. It will help you warm up and keep you warm. Store some energy bars inside your jersey back pockets to relieve your hunger. Also eating before you start your ride is important to give your body the fuel it needs.
Eating well helps your body to regulate its heat.
3. Other Essentials
Check your wheels
It is better to get some slick, hard-wearing tyres with anti-puncture protection. There are effectively tubeless tyres that reduce the chances of having an accident on uneven surfaces and leaving you out in the cold trying to resolve it.
It goes without saying that, the drier you are the warmer you will be while cycling. Your bike should have basic mudguards through the winter to help protect you from the spray and dirt that can flick up to hit you during wet weather cycling. It also helps to protect the other riders who are right behind you from the dirt spraying up from rotating tyres.
Quality of lights
Without a doubt, it is an essential need of the riders to use lights when it is it goes dark and gloomy. It notifies your presence to the other cyclists ahead of you and road users behind you. There is a huge range of decent rechargeable LED lights available for your needs, that would not set you back much. So make sure to check out your lights before you step out.
It is important to be ready for any bad weather conditions as well as any unexpected challenges you might face on your cycle journey.
Whether you are a frequent cyclist or a beginner, you should pay attention to the road ahead and other road users when out cycling in the winter. Visibility is often poor and there is an increased chance of an accident occurring. You should give a regular once-over for the moving parts that are been regularly used, such as cables, hubs, chain, bottom bracket, and gears. You can oil the parts like chains.
Keeping your bike in top condition offers you a safe ride by minimising the number of mechanical mishaps you may have during your ride.
We were talking about how we can ‘winterise’ your bike. However, if you can afford a winter bike we suggest you go for it. By default, they are equipped with all the aforementioned parts including tyres, lights and mudguards.
Plan your Journey
It is good practice to plan your journey – checking for weather forecasts, storing energy bars, medicine, phone charger, some cash and prepare yourself for emergencies, for the worst possible scenario.
Doing all the above will help ensure you stay warm when cycling in cold weather and make your winter ride enjoyable and safe.