We asked the members of the Cycling Weekly Cycling Club to give us their top tips for winter riding, including advice on keeping warm, maintaining motivation and even some unique guidance on getting yourself out of bed in the morning.
If you think you’ve got something to add, leave your recommendations at the bottom of this page, or click here to head over to our forum and join the discussion.
Get some good gloves: There’s nothing worse than frozen fingers to put you off venturing back out on cold winter rides, and shifting can become unbearably painful after a while. Make sure you’ve got a set of well-fitting gloves to keep the circulation flowing around those phalanges and when the temperature really drops, a second pair is essential. This could be a combination of winter gloves with some decent liner gloves or if you really struggle, two pairs of winter warmers.
Speaking of extremities…
Protect those feet: Although you’ll be generating a fair amount of heat from lower body movement, your feet – especially your toes – are going to take a hell of a beating from the cold and wet if they aren’t properly protected.
Many of us can only afford to sport one set of carbon fibre super shoes to use throughout the year, and while there’s certainly no problem with not owning a specific set of winter clogs, there was a general consensus amongst all concerned that you’ll need a fine pair of socks and some overshoes. Two pairs of socks might not go amiss if you’ve got the room, but you can pick up some good quality liner socks at a fairly reasonable price these days.
As far as over shoes were concerned, our tipsters said covering the air holes in your shoes was a must and while you're there, you better make them waterproof too; as sopping wet feet can put paid to even the best of us.
Be seen: You’ve heard it a thousand and one times by now, but here’s the thousand and second: get yourself some bright lights.
As the days draw in you don’t want to be stuck on your way home in the dark, unable to be seen by other road users. Lights, as well as reflective clothing, could be a lifesaver. One user even recommended carrying spare batteries with you for extra precaution, which is far from a silly idea.
Look after your bike and your bike will look after you (sort of): Remember when you’d come in from doing an outdoor winter PE session at school and you had to try and button your shirt up, but you couldn’t because your hands were so called you couldn’t move your fingers? No? Just me then. Anyway the point is, if you have a mechanical fault in the freezing winter you’re probably not going to enjoy, or even be able to carry out any fiddly fixes to your bike.
A well lubricated chain, some proper winter tyres free from cuts and debris will give you a much better chance of making it through a long cold ride unscathed.
Try mountain biking: Put the lycra down and step away from the road bike. Mountain bikes are designed for the tough, muddy conditions you’ll find over the winter, so there’s something to be said for the suggestion of breaking out your knobbly-tyred steed over the cold season.
As was suggested by a member, you can get some good interval training done on a MTB and a ride around the wooded areas can keep you protected from the wind and keep you warmer. If you really can’t pull yourself away from the drop-bars and tight shorts, you can always get into the road’s muddy brother, cyclocross.
From warm bed to cold road: It feels like the most torturous moment of your life every time you have to pull the warm duvet off and get ready to go riding, but taking the process from bed to road is better done in small steps.
Tips for helping motivation included preparing your clothes and kit the night before, while you’ll also find it best to just keep moving once you’re up and dressed. So don’t sit down and catch a few minutes of BBC Breakfast, just get to the door and go.
Try breaking the ride up into segments; don’t start off by thinking about how many miles you’ve got to do or how many hills you’ll have to climb, that’s a recipe for failure.
There was also the suggestion of putting your scales by your bed so they’re the first thing you stand on when you get up, although we take no responsibility if firstly, you trip over them as you navigate your way out of bed or secondly, if you become increasingly depressed rather than motivated. It won’t work for everyone.
Layer like a pro. Minimal skin exposure.
Banish the bulky clothing and layer up: While it may be tempting to put on your warm puffer jacket to head out for a ride, the aerodynamics and constriction of this setup will not be kind to you.
The best advice is to wear lots of thin layers. Start with a thermal base layer, a long sleeve winter jersey and maybe throw in a gilet for good measure to keep you protected from the wind. Oh, and always keep a rain jacket on you. You’ll regret not having this when it starts to rain or even snows, and you’ll suddenly find yourself a whole lot colder. A good hat and snood will also give you good protection - and aid your breathing.
Keep an eye on the weather report: It’s no good layering up to the eye balls if it’s going to get suddenly balmy one hour later, but on the flipside you’ve got to ensure you’re not going to get cold as the day draws in. Keep your peepers on the forecast and prepare accordingly.
Leg warmers vs. bib tights: There was only one winner here. No annoying gaps between shorts and warmers, no thigh constriction and no falling down every five minutes; the bib shorts were unanimously popular. Disagree? Tell us why.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to these tips. If you've got anything to add to this list, why not get involved in the discussion on our forum?