Coming from Australia, where the sun is shining pretty much all year round, and roads are made for cycling, it's easy to forget just how luck I was. I say ''was'' because for the last 19 years, I've been based in Japan, and although we get a lovely summer here, the winter months are brutal, absolutely brutal.
Many of my cycling friends in Europe and North America will know exactly what I'm talking about. It's those winter months when you literally can't get out on your bike for months on end. But hang on a second; is it actually possible to keep riding through the blistering cold and the howling winds?
It is, but only if you're up for one heck of a challenge. Now I'm sure most of you reading this blog are already hard-core cyclists, so more than likely, you're up for that challenge.
This article will outline some of the tips and tricks that I've learned to stay warm and keep riding in the winter. I've learned some tips through my own experience and some from other riders. As much as I love my indoor trainer, I much prefer to ride outside even if it's cold, and the thought of being "cooped" up inside for months on end is enough to force me to embrace those cold winter months.
Take The Time To Plan Your Route In Advance
Preparing and planning for your ride in advance is something you should always do; however, in the winter months, this critical step becomes more important than ever before. Wind, rain, snow, and thunderstorms can make cycling conditions treacherous, which is precisely why you need to prepare your route before setting off.
Ideally, you want to have a couple of alternate routes that you can take to get home if things go wrong in a hurry. Checking the weather before you leave home is a no-brainer, but that being said, you'd be surprised how many cyclists I know that forget to check the weather before they head out; in the winter, this could spell disaster.
Do yourself, your family, and your friends a favor; take 10 minutes the night before your ride to plan and map out your route; and don't forget your backup plan.
E.T. Phone Home
In today's modern age, our iPhones are literally glued to us, whether we like it or not. Still, in reality, we understand that having our iPhones with us helps us stay connected to the rest of the world, and when you're riding during the winter months, your iPhone could quite literally save your life.
The iPhone's battery life has improved tremendously over recent years, but what if the worst happened and you were stuck outside for days in a winter storm? Would your iPhone battery last? NO.
To combat the complete loss of your battery life, I highly recommend purchasing an iPhone compatible charging case and bike phone mount to keep your iPhone battery topped up and you ALIVE. Imagine having a charging case that can charge your iPhone wirelessly with the touch of a button? That's exactly what you get when you purchase our StrideCharge charging case.
The innovative and patent-pending design allows you to attach your iPhone to your bike and ride while it's charging. Now, that's a win-win and a LIFESAVER.
Bike Maintenance Is A Non-Negotiable
Maintaining your bike is an essential part of riding regardless of the time of the year, but like many things during the winter, bike maintenance becomes a non-negotiable.
During the winter months, the snow, rain, ice, and soot can clog your chain and your drivetrain in the blink of an eye. The other destructive factor to consider is the amount of salt that's on the road. This salt is incredibly corrosive and must be washed off as soon as your get home after each ride.
Making sure that your chain is lubed correctly and that your brakes are in perfect working order are two other non-negotiables when it comes to winter riding. The salt and snow can erode your brakes pretty quickly, so checking them regularly will help keep you safe, especially on those icy winter roads.
Be Seen, Stay Safe, And Stay Warm
During the winter months, the skies are dark, the roads are slippery, and the sun sets early; all of these factors are precisely why you need to STAY SEEN to STAY SAFE. Investing in some LED lights is a must, as it should be any time you ride, and ensuring you have highly visible clothing will help keep you safe.
Cycling-specific winter clothing will set you back a small fortune but to be honest, if you want to ride outside during the winter, there's no way around it. Protective rain jackets, gloves, winter hats, shoe covers, and winter-specific underwear are just a few of the essentials you'll need to stay warm.
Reflective clothing is a must, too, but luckily, cycling brands these days always manufacture some type of "reflective strip" in the clothing or make the entire piece out of reflective material. If you have these non-negotiables like LED Lights and reflective clothing, you'll make your winter riding experience much safer.
That’s A Wrap
Cycling during the winter months can be a lot of fun, and the scenery is absolutely spectacular. The snow-capped mountains and the glistening of the ice on the trees are two reasons to get yourself out on the bike this winter.
Just remember, though, you need to "stay seen to stay safe," and whatever you do, male or female, DON'T forget your winter underwear.