Fact: riding over the summer months is much easier than keeping up the pedalling momentum past October.
However, that doesn’t make it any less rewarding, any less fun or any less convenient.
Here are 8 ways to make sure you don’t stop getting out on your bike as the weather turns, and help ensure you enjoy it all year round:
1) Get your bike sorted
A badly maintained bike can ruin your riding – repeated punctures, squeaky or rubbing brakes or ineffective gears all add up to a lousy ride. Over the winter months, your bike needs more TLC – so take some time to check the cables are in good condition, keep an eye on your brake pads, and replace the tyres for more winter worthy versions. Don’t forget to take a look at our Bike Doctor app if you’d like to do this maintenance yourself. Otherwise, take a look at some of our most recommended bike shops in London.
2) Wrap up
Autumn riding doesn’t mean an entirely new wardrobe – just a few handy accessories to beef up your existing cycling kit. Leg warmers and arm warmers can transform your jersey and shorts to cosy cover-ups, a base layer should keep your core temperature up, and good gloves, overshoes, a buff and a cap will make sure your extremities are toasty. Accessories are in-expensive and they make all the difference. Here are our top tips on autumn clothing.
3) Light up
A really good set of lights enables you to ride on unlit, country roads and even off-road way after the sun has gone down, and before it’s come up. In the darker months, drivers are often all tucked up inside and the roads can be blissfully quiet at these times – so take an 800+ lumen front beam out and enjoy yourself. Do make sure you ride responsively with it – don’t dazzle oncoming road users, and always take up a back-up set. My personal favourite lights is the Exposure Diablo – not cheap – but well worth it for the reliable 24/7 riding freedom it provides. Here’s our definitive bike light guide.
4) Take it off-road
Sometimes slogging it on wet, greasy, leafy tarmac gets old – and that’s fine. I tend to get out on a cyclocross bike over the autumn and winter months – riding through mud and forests is great fun, wonderful for your bike handling skills, and it’s refreshing if you usually stick to tarmac. If you’ve got a MTB or CX bike, your set – and putting some mud friendly tyres on a sporty hybrid bike will also give you the opportunity to get on the trails.
5) Enter an event
Struggling with motivation? Scare yourself into getting the miles in by entering an event. Your challenge could be a winter sportive (or MTB event), or if you’re thinking long term, it could be an early spring ride that requires some serious building up to. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you know requires some extra effort from you, and if you can, enlist a buddy to sign up with you, so you can work towards to goal together.
6) Ride for treats
If you commute to and from work, make sure there is something nice waiting for you at either end. One winter, I had some absolutely divine Vanilla flavoured coffee in my desk draw, and it was a wonderful warm-up treat after cold morning miles.
7) Train indoors
If most of your riding is commuting, this option wont serve that purpose – but it will drastically boost your fitness. Training indoors with a turbo trainer means there are no distractions – no roundabouts, no traffic lights – and no descents or freewheeling. That means every second of pedaling counts, and you can pedal super hard with your eyes closed if need be – not something that’s possible on the road.
Training on the turbo trainer is hugely effective for boosting power on the bike, but you should always start with a session in mind, as simply pedaling for the same duration as you would outside will be mind numbing and you won’t put the effort in. Here’s our guide to turbo training.
8) Take a break when you need to
Lashing it down with so much rain you can’t see where you’re going? Caught the office bug? Just feel really tired? Winter takes it’s toll, and we can’t be at our best for 12 months of the year. It is ok to take a break sometimes, especially if you ride events or race in the summer – so take the opportunity to enjoy a little downtime when you need to, you deserve it.
Have you got any tips to add?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.