Cycling in the winter is an activity on which only a few decide – the majority, in fear of too low temperatures and unfavorable conditions on the road, give up cycling in the winter.
Is winter cycling healthy? Yes, but you have to follow a few important rules. Riding a bike in the winter does not have to be a challenge – you just have to prepare it properly. You will need appropriate clothing, tires and knowledge of several basic technical rules.
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How to dress for a bike in the winter?
An important factor preventing cyclists from continuing on a two-wheeler on cooler days is the fear of cold. However, a suitably chosen winter cycling outfit will significantly improve its comfort. What do you need to remember when completing it?
1. Dress up for the onion: thanks to a few layers of clothes you will not be too cold or too warm; if you warm up – quickly and easily remove the outer layer – protective.
2. Layers of clothing: The number of layers of clothing depends on the weather and the degree of cold sensation:
- The basic layer – adheres to the skin, it should have breathable properties and moisture wicking;
- Insulating layer – in addition to breathing properties, it also insulates;
- Protective layer – it breathes and protects against unfavorable weather: rain, snow, wind.
If the winter is mild and the temperature stays above zero, the first two layers are enough. Usually, however, this season of the year requires the imposition of all three layers of clothing.
3. Choose clothes made of breathable materials: if any of the layers will not have fast drying and breathing properties, the whole idea of putting on the onion will be in vain, because we will be soaked and frozen. When cycling in the winter, it is better to avoid clothes from natural materials, such as cotton, because they dry slowly and in this way we can cool down our body. Synthetics will work: polyester, elastin, polyethylene and polypropylene.
4. Choosing outfit: In winter dress from the waist down, the base is thermostatic underwear . As for pants, they should not let the wind out and be waterproof. It’s also good to have a high level that will protect us when we lean forward. Various combinations can be used: select thermostatic gaiters and put on pants or only one pair of tapered bottoms of insulated trousers.
5. Remember to protect your head from cold – a headgear is a must!Well, if we choose not a simple hat, but a balaclava, or a cap with a buff shawl or mask. In this way, we also cover the face. The materials from which the headgear is made should be synthetic. A waterproof membrane is a practical solution.
6. Choose the right gloves: they should be long enough to fit under the jacket, and the waterproof and waterproof function will also be useful. Thanks to the gel pads, it will be easier for us to keep the steering wheel, relieve the hands and protect them from numbness.
7. An important element of an outfit for riding a road bike in the winter are boots with a waterproof and wind-proof membrane, on a high uppers. If you are planning to buy footwear specifically for this time of year, choose a bigger one than usual – there must be a thick sock in them, otherwise there may be problems with free flow of blood, which will make you even colder. Socks should be longer to protect the leg also above the ankle, but the foot should feel comfortable in them. Bet on a model that wicks sweat, for example from Coolmax material.
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Tires for winter cycling
When we think about winter driving, one of the first issues that comes to mind is tire replacement. And what is the case with bicycles: will the purchase of winter tires be necessary?
To improve the adhesion of ordinary tires, reduce their pressure. On the other hand, care must be taken that the pressure is not too low, because then the rolling resistance will increase.
It seems that the majority of people use semi-slick tires even in the winter, on which they drive every other season. This does not necessarily mean a bad decision, because winter in United States usually attacks most often within a dozen days a year, and a large part of us lives in places where roads and sidewalks are snowed and sprinkled with salt. On the other hand, snow does not always have to mean a big danger – sticking to the tire will increase the friction, and the adhesion to the ground.
However, if we move in the snow, not crowded (as it is possible to meet in the city), it is worth investing in off – road tires with a greater width than semi-slicks, and thus – better adhesion to the ground. Thanks to them, it’s easier to pass through a thick layer of snow.
Winter tires are also very popular among winter cyclists, which work well even in the toughest driving conditions. Because they put more resistance than ordinary tires, they greatly improve grip on ice and hardened snow.
Spiked tires are more expensive than regular ones (they cost from 100 zlotys), and the most popular of them are the German brand Schwalbe and the Finnish company Nokian.
What is worth remembering when riding a bike in the winter?
- Before each trip, brush your face with a thick layer of cream, for example with vitamin A;
- Invest in fenders that will protect your clothing from soaking;
- Take care of proper lighting and remember about the front or rear lamp;
- If you store your bike in an unheated room, remove the meter and lamp for the night to save batteries that have a shorter life in the winter;
- Lubricate the bicycle chain more often than on warmer days and using more dense greases;
- Salt, which is sprinkled with streets, destroys the bicycle components, so after a winter ride wash the bike with warm water and leave it in a heated room until it dries.
Winter cycling technique
1. The first rule of cycling in the winter is obvious – you need a lot of concentration, reflexes and balance, as overcoming snowy and even more icy routes is more difficult than running through dry asphalt roads. Every time you start and accelerate, you must use higher gears that reduce the risk of losing grip.
2. A very difficult situation is the slip of the front wheel, which (almost) always ends in winter conditions with a more or less spectacular fall. If, however, the slip concerns the rear wheel, it is worth to support one – preferably straightened – leg. This additional attachment point can protect us from tipping.
Before falling on a bicycle it can protect us from lowering the saddle – thanks to this, the center of gravity of the bicycle is also lowered and we retain greater stability on the ice.
3. Cycling in the winter causes trouble especially in the context of braking. Sudden pressing of the brake and blocking the wheel may result in a faster fall. Brakes in the winter are much worse than in other seasons, so instead of braking, it is better to slow down, and if you brake – it is a safer rear brake or rear and front brake. Using only the front one can bring us closer to the “soil” quicker.
4. Few of us ride in the winter on ice, but if we find ourselves on an icy street or puddle, it’s safer to go straight through it without twisting. However, overcoming curbs and various types of ruts should take place at an angle close to 90 ° – an acute angle increases the likelihood of slip.