|Picture courtesy of Cyclesportphotos.com|
The "W" word. I'm not saying it yet, but you know the season that comes after Autumn where things start to get a little wetter and colder. So what should you do to prepare for the change in conditions. Here's some tips that I've picked up in my short time riding: -
- Invest in a turbo trainer. When the days are just too cold or perhaps the risk of black ice too high, if you still want to spin the pedals, £100 invested in a turbo trainer will give you an option to train. They're not for everyone, some swear by them, some hate them. Try it and see if it's for you. Alternatively, you might consider investing in an indoor static bike like a Wattbike. Wattbikes can be hired from £60 per month.
- Consider changing your tyres to 700x25C. Most road bikes come with 700x23C tyres, so if you don't have a winter hack, consider changing the tyre to a slightly wider tread to give you better road grip and confidence during the winter months.
- Regularly clean and oil your key moving parts, chain particulalry. I use a wet lubricant, which is designed specifically for the winter months and keeps the chain in good condition.
- Invest in some decent gloves. I don't mean just one pair, I have about four different pairs for different conditions. A pair for heavy rain, a pair when it's just cold but not wet, a really thick pair for when it's freezing and a general purpose pair. It's surprising what wear each pair gets.
- Carry a space blanket in your rear pocket. I've witnessed riders going over on black ice and in one serious incident last year, a fellow rider hospitalised. It's vital to keep people warm if they have an accident. You can pick up a space blanket of e-bay for three or four quid.
- Fit some mudguards. If you're lucky to have mudguard mounts on your frame, get a decent pair. A lot of modern road bikes don't have them, so invest in a set of Crudguards, which will mount onto nearly any modern road bike with their unique mounting system. A tip for you, put a little piece of electrical tape underneath the mount, to prevent frame rub.
- Heat goes through your head. If you want to stay really warm, ensure you have a decent wooly hat on underneath your helmet.
- Always wear a base layer. It's surprising how warm your core still gets on a cold day. A base layer will effectively wick away the sweat and help to keep you cool. Starting from around £15 and going up to a hundred for something at the top end, they're really worth the money.
- Clear your bike regularly to prevent grit build up. Invest in some specific bike cleaning products. I use Purple Harry cleaning products and wash my bike down after every ride, it only takes a few minutes, but for the long term it will ensure that your bike remains maintenance free.
- Be seen. Invest in products, lights and jacket particularly which are going to make you highly visible to other road users. It's amazing how quickly the night draws in and if you're delayed due to a puncture or mechanical, you may get caught out. Always have some fully charged lights on your bike, to overcome these situations.