As cyclists, we’ve been lucky, with temperatures hovering in the teens for way longer than is seasonably expected. However, winter has suddenly arrived. It’s finally that time of year again when getting out on the bike requires a little more willpower. Cold, rainy and often dark, commutes through the winter present different challenges. That said, there are some significant advantages to riding year round.
Hopefully we can provide some inspiration to keep those pedals moving and keep you on the bike through the Dark Months.
The threat of tube strikes
Talks of a triple tube strike this year have already begun. On the bike you’ll have no concerns. You can arrive to work on time, leave on time and your schedule and routine is unaffected.
I can think of little worse than standing at a bus stop desperate to get home to spend time with housemates, kids, a significant other and you keep watching packed buses stream past, not even stopping to pickup passengers.
Sustrans Traffic Free Cycle Rides
If you fancy a change, then a countryside jaunt can be a really fun way to experience some traffic free cycling. Sustrans maintain routes all around the country, many of them traffic free countryside day rides. They produce a great book with all these rides broken down by area of the country. Many of these routes are accessible by train from London.
There are routes within London itself as well: you could head to Richmond Park, the Lea Valley or the Thames path. Even riding at the weekend during the winter is going to maintain a good level of fitness.
A little forward thinking makes plans easier to stick with, even if the weather isn’t cooperating. Plus, if you’ve followed our ultimate guide to layering for cyclists, then you’ll keep a nice warm body temperature throughout your ride.
For more inspiration check out the London Cyclist cycle routes guide which has 35 of the best routes in London.
There is something highly satisfying about staying on the bike in the rough weather. Those querying colleagues who are shocked you are still riding in to work (especially those who wrongly think you are a little crazy even in summer) who you humbly brush off, stating it’s no big deal. All the while you have a smug internal smile, knowing that you are being somewhat hardcore.
On the road, you can often feel a little more camaraderie with other cyclists, particularly when sitting at a red light in the freezing drizzle. Then, when the spring comes and you see the fair-weather cyclists back out, you can easily breeze past them. You will also find summer adventures a lot easier if you stick to cycling all year round.
Quieter roads and paths
With the slow but steady growth of the number of cyclists in London, morning and evening commutes are now a shared experience. In many ways that’s joyful to see so many people choosing the humble bicycle as their vehicle of choice but it can also have a few jarring moments (bike shoalers – you know who you are).
In the winter there are less cyclists around and that can have it’s upsides such as more of the bike lane to yourself.
Sometimes we are guilty of getting a little materialistic but there’s a real pleasure in picking the right set of gear. From the jackets, to the gloves, trousers and beyond – once you’ve got your setup just right it feels great. (Though as always our caveat that you can cycle in anything you choose – and you don’t necessarily need cycling specific gear).
What are you feelings about cycling through the winter? Do you have a specific strategy or set of motivations to keep you on the bike?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.