It’s easy to be a ‘fair weather cyclist’, isn’t it? But winter really is a great time to get out on your bike- whether it’s your usual route or perhaps you’re staying safe and cyclign instead of using public transport (or even better- ditching the car and cycling to work to help the environment!) You could also burn more calories cycling during the winter versus the summer… what better incentive ready for the New Year?!
Here’s some practical tips to help you stay safe whilst cycling this winter:
1. Layer up.
To stay warm during a winter ride, think in terms of your head, hands, feet and torso. Most of your body heat escapes through your head, so using a balaclava under your helmet will help keep you warm. Wear either long fingered gloves or mittens to protect your hands, and thermal socks to keep your feet warm. Wear layers to keep your torso warm, including a lightweight, breathable outer jacket that is both water and wind resistant.
2. Start warm.
Never start your ride with a chill. This is a recipe for a miserable outing because your extremities will get cold very quickly. Start your ride feeling warm, perhaps even a bit too warm. Have a hot drink in a warm room just before you step outside. This will allow you to warm-up on the bike more comfortably.
3. Be visible.
Wear brightly colored clothing, and use reflectors and lights, even if you won’t be riding after dark. It can be difficult to spot cyclists during twilight hours and a good set of bicycle lights (e.g., headlight, rear flasher) will significantly boost your visibility.
4. Plan your route in advance.
There can always be debris on the road, bike path and shoulder; however this is more common during winter months. Determine your route in advance and make sure it is relatively clear of debris and safe for cycling. In addition, shorten your route during the winter. Otherwise, you may run out of energy or just get too cold and find yourself far from home. You can use our route planner or handy PDF map to find your way from A to B.
5. Pay attention to the wind.
Whenever possible, try to do the first half of your ride into a headwind and return with a tailwind. This allows you to tackle a headwind when you are fresh and gain the benefit of a tailwind on your way home. This is even more important during winter because it allows you to avoid an icy wind during the second half of your ride when you are sweaty and tired.
6. Ride with friends.
Stay socially distant AND get a workout/catch up in! It can be a more enjoyable experience, you can take turns shielding each other from a biting wind and sharing conversation makes the time go by faster. It’s also safer and more convenient if someone has a mechanical problem.
7. Take care of your bike.
Pay attention to your bike, especially in winter. Make sure you clean the bike, chain, gears, brakes and wheel rims on a regular basis. That means after every ride in wet conditions. You may want to get a tune-up at your local bike shop at the beginning and end of winter to make sure it is in good repair.
8. Use safe and trusted routes.
With over 180km of safe routes in and around Swansea, the Swansea Bayways network is a great place to start if you’re looking to nip to the city centre for last minute Christmas shopping or fancy trying your commute by bike.