Do you cycle through winter? +£40 voucher competition!

Zalando Cycling

This competition is now closed!

We’ve got five £40 vouchers to giveaway from Zalando – read on and leave a comment to be entered in the competition!

As cyclists in London have been feeling a hint of the winter chills that are to come, readers have been asking about winter cycling gear. We’ve shared our tips on the blog and for this weeks comment Friday we’re asking:

When the real cold weather arrives, are you going to keep cycling?

There’s no place like London in the summer, but moody grey skies and gloomy weather reports are enough to make you want to stay under the warm duvet during the cold months.

I’d be interested in hearing from readers. Does the winter weather put you off cycling or do you enjoy it as much as the summer months? How do you cope with the colder weather?

My typical response when the rain is coming down is to hop on the tube. However, after a few days of this, I start missing my bike. It’s not long before I’m back on two wheels and putting my oyster card back in the draw where it belongs.

There’s a real joy to be discovered with winter cycling. It’s a fun challenge to battle with the elements, especially if you’ve got the right gear to prove you victorious. It’s also a great time to feel alive. The wind and rain lashing against me, gives me all the more drive to pedal to my destination.

However, I know not everyone feels the same. There are certainly less cyclists around during the winter months. Those you do see are snuggly wrapped up with scarves and wooly hats. Their bikes being destined to spend winter time in the garage, shed or hallway of their homes.

What are your thoughts on winter cycling. Leave a comment below!

Competition details

Zalando were kind enough to provide us with the five vouchers and they have a great selection of cycling clothes to spend it on. To enter the competition, you must be based in the UK. Each reader gets one entry and the four winners are randomly chosen and contacted through the email address they provide in the comment form below. Our usual competition rules apply and no purchase is necessary to enter. Note that there is a minimum purchase amount for the vouchers which is half the value of the voucher code, in this case £20.

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153 Responses to Do you cycle through winter? +£40 voucher competition!

  1. Regina Eisenstecken 21/09/2013 at 3:43 pm #

    nothing quite like a clear crisp winter morning when the cold is trying to get to you but you feel nice and warm enjoying the stillness of the season. it’s taken me several winters to get to this stage and i still remember battling against painful finger tips and toes. now i wear well sheep: gloves and shoe inlays, hat over balaclava and jumper – the old fashioned dense stuff is perfect. i don’t mind looking like an stuffed husky on 2-wheels as long as i don’t freeze.
    and the icy paths that councils can’t be bothered with? … aah, now there’s something to get hot and bothered about!

  2. veryrarelystable 21/09/2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I cycle in all weathers apart from snow – my thin tyres are no good in snow and it feels quite dangerous.

    Last year I bought a type of balaclava (with one big hole for the face rather than individual holes for eyes and mouth). I found it very effective at keeping my head and neck warm – much better than scarves. I could also wear it under my helmet.

    It’s very practical – no problem with turning the head to look round, as it turns with you like an extra layer of skin. However, it wouldn’t win any fashion prizes and you should really take it off before entering a bank lest it give the wrong impression of what you’re about to do.

  3. Dave 21/09/2013 at 7:17 pm #

    I have to admit that although I have cycled London almost daily for 8 years, I have never done it right through winter, but,hey, I’m not going to live forever so this year I intend to brave the worst the Wintersmith can do. I shall kiss the dawn, curse the darkness and ride the wind

  4. Chris 21/09/2013 at 8:22 pm #

    I have cycled in all weather in London, Sheffield and now Glasgow. Last year, in Glasgow, I had to take 1-2 weeks off cycling and use the subway due to black ice on the road. I was leaving work in the dark and couldn’t see the roads well enough and fell off 3-4 times over a couple of days and so decided to hang up the bike for a few weeks.

    I have already started to crack open the winter wear. The waterproof jacket never really got put away this year, but the waterproof trousers and socks are back out, as are the cold weather gloves.

    The thermal cycling tights and merino base layer are on standby.

    The next level up is to wear a balaclava, silk, to keep the wind off; and using gel-pack hand warmers inside the gloves to prevent my fingers falling off by the end of the 30 minute cycle.

    The cold helps me appreciate the warmth. The main disappointment is that on dry days I often follow the canal route to return home. Adds another 10-15 mins to the journey, but is definitely worth it. However, during the really wet months (everything is relative),the path becomes waterlogged and (safely) impassable.

    For the record I ride a hydrid mountain bike. Its slower than a road bike, but opens up the possibility of a variety of different routes.

    • Dave 22/09/2013 at 8:25 am #

      Hi Chris

      My bike for the daily commute has been a recumbent, but it is a beast to manage in a skid. Since I intend to fight the good fight this winter my choice of steed will also be my hybrid which is a delight in mucky routes

  5. David Clare 21/09/2013 at 10:13 pm #

    I didn’t cycle during the winter last year (which was my first year of owning a bike) but I am determined to power through this year. My only issue is making sure I turn up to work not soaked. My single speed doesn’t help me carry too many supplies to get changed into :-( Tips welcome!

  6. John 22/09/2013 at 8:04 pm #

    If I (or we!) didn’t cycle through the winter, when will we? Being out, riding, is all that matters isn’t it? The only thing that puts me off is ice, not because I may come off but more because I don’t trust cars! So consider me one of the carry on regardless mob. I wouldn’t go as far as looking forward to winter mind…

  7. Mike Stradling 22/09/2013 at 10:22 pm #

    I try to cycle through the winter, and rode the Wight Winter Sportive last year. Essentials are waterproof socks and gloves, and then rain resistant / waterproof clothing for legs and body. Layering is everything. If you get it right you can have a really good time riding. Get it wrong and you will be incredibly uncomfortable.

    I was even preparing to ride the Cheshire Cat earlier this year when it was snowed out.

    Sealskinz headgear, gloves and socks. Waterproof softshell. A baselayer. Aquazero bib tights.

    Overshoes will help too.

  8. Andrew Brown 23/09/2013 at 10:27 am #

    I’m an all weather cyclist, but don’t have anything special that I’ll wear, other than layering up a bit more as and when it gets very cold.

  9. Natalie 23/09/2013 at 12:07 pm #

    I have just started commuting via bike in London. I don’t know if I am being overly optimistic, but I am definitely looking forward to the colder weather. It has always been my favourite season for biking outside of London, and hopefully the rain/wind/ice won’t make it too hairy (fingers crossed)! Good base layers and waterproofs will hopefully stand me in good stead, and I am definitely considering a balaclava, after seeing it recommended in one of the other comments.

    We’ll see how long my resolve lasts, but I for one hope to be commuting via my bike come rain or shine or bitter cold.

  10. Dave 23/09/2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Good for you Natalie! I am no expert but it sounds as though you know what you want. You don’t say what bike you are riding, but if its a standard road bike you may need to consider suitable tyres. Again i’m not an expert, so maybe someone else may have better advice. Good luck anyway and take it one day at a time

  11. Hugh 23/09/2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I have commuted through the last three winters. My coldest day was minus 6. When it gets that cold I wear a helly hansen arctic thermal, a neck warmer and a thin took that fits under my helmet. Otherwise my only extra precautions are a lightwieght waterproof jacket and thermal leggings, and – most importantly – riding harder to keep warm. Rule #9.

  12. Alex Baines-Buffery 23/09/2013 at 2:06 pm #

    There is a lot to be gained from working out how to get to work on a bike in the winter. The colder or wetter the weather the more rammed the trains and tubes are. Water proof bags and a change of clothes are a must.

    this is my list:

    Clip in shoes

    DHB over booty things

    Onesie lycra

    Shorts

    Cycling jersey

    A cable knit sweater (one that lets the air through, so you can open your jacket and let the icy winds in if you are over heating)

    Jacket

    Lycra beanie

    Helmet

    Gloves: absolutely essential, riding without them in winter is hellish.

    • Dave 24/09/2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Well if it lists……

      Shimano MTB shoes with SPD clips

      Merino base top and trouser

      Fleece top and trouser

      Rain suit and gaiters

      buff or balaclava

      B’twin gloves

      I shall kiss the dawn, curse the darkness and ride the wind…..I am the Wintersmith

  13. Matt 23/09/2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Nothing beats a cold and wet winter ride up to town on a morning! Full length leggings a long sleeve Jersey and a thin windbreak is all I need. Maybe my northern blood helps me out a bit!!!

  14. SM 23/09/2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Winter cycling for me is fine(except in extreme weather) as you don’t feel the cold once you get going.

    Rain and cold is fine with the right gear, but wind is a major annoyance.

  15. Mary 23/09/2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Yes, I love cycling in winter! Top tip is using a buff…wrap it over chin and ears to keep your extremities cosy without getting too hot (can’t bear having anything over my head apart from a helmet)….oh, and lip salve!

  16. Claire 23/09/2013 at 9:59 pm #

    I cycle all weathers mostly and have even given the snow a go….a bit scary but i changed to my mountain bike with big nobbly tyres…beats queuing for late/delayed/cancelled trains/buses/tubes and is quite exhilarating going slowly but still passing cars. Wear clear glasses though as snow is spikier than rain and hurts your eyes. I did learn after the 1st time of cycling in the snow not to break on the corner as i promptly fell off. This year i’ve moved to the bottom of a long steep hill, so if its icy, i’m not sure i’ll make it to the top! Enjoy the snow on your bike if it comes this season.

  17. Russell Odom 23/09/2013 at 10:03 pm #

    I do ride through the winter, but avoid the snowy and icy days ever since a spate of falls on ice, one of which resulted in a broken elbow. I tend to find i don’t really mind the bad weather once I’ve got going (apart from headwinds!).

    A pair of Altura leggings (gift from my wife) were great under my normal trousers last winter. Still on the lookout for something that works for me to keep my ears warm under the helmet – currently i have a fleecy elasticated head band thing but it’s not very comfortable. Some suggestions here that balaclavas might be the way to go so will give that some thought.

  18. Julie 24/09/2013 at 8:11 am #

    Nothing beats a ride on a crisp winters morning to get the blood flowing, however riding in a recumbent position on our hase pino tandem means I suffer from really cold feet. Not any more due to Maplins battery operated heated insoles which I bought a couple of years ago in their sale for £12. I use rechargable batteries in them and keep my tootsies warm for about 2 – 3 hours, I think they are marvellous! This winter I may even look into their heated gloves :-)

  19. simon shone 24/09/2013 at 12:23 pm #

    I swear by Northwave Celsius boots – expensive but worth the investment as overshoes never last longer than one season.

  20. Erik 24/09/2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Just bought my bike, but I will definitely continue throughout the winter with my ten minute commute to the hospital!

  21. Dave 24/09/2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Hi Erik

    Welcome and well done! Take care and good luck

    Dave

  22. Rp 24/09/2013 at 9:44 pm #

    The secret is lots of layers and good quality gloves and overshoes to keep the extremities warm

  23. Mark 25/09/2013 at 12:10 pm #

    enter me in the competition please!

    oh, and yes, i do cycle all thru the winter, except not on icey days. i use long sleeves with a base layer, and shorts with base layer trousers. thicker gloves too. otherwise no other changes to me or my bike! bring it on winter!

  24. Andrew 25/09/2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Best bet is hi-vis wind and waterproof jacket and cycle specific tights (padded) under a pair of cycling trousers. Glasses to stop wind hitting the eyes. Layer up with baselayer, t-shirts and maybe a sweatshirt, although avoid wearing bulky items such as hoodies and heavy clothes that could get soaked with sweat, or even smart shirts. A neckwarmer or buff is great for your neck, and can be easily removed if necessary. Gloves-wear a thin runners’ glove then a cycling insulating one. My feet and hands have been the worst sufferers in recent years leading me to cover these up greater. Cold feet or hands make for a really uncomfortable and sometimes painful ride.

  25. Ronnie 25/09/2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Best time of year is winter, though probably not in the snow. Does it snow in london even?

    My three essential pieces of gear:
    Buff – covers your neck, ears, and in a stiff headwind, your face
    Overshoes – I have a 25m rountrip, so my toes used to freeze, added overshoes and now they are toasty all the way
    Gloves – still can’t find any that keep my hands warm the full 12.5miles

    Other than that, a windproof jacket and cycling trousers over a bib is perfect

  26. Mark 25/09/2013 at 6:28 pm #

    I’ve commuted in London pretty much every day for the last 18 months – just switch to the mountain bike when it snows and enjoy the spookily empty roads.

    Fingers, toes and ears are the main things that get cold – overshoes and/or toe covers for the feet, good wind/waterproof gloves for the hands and a windproof headband for the ears.

    Along with a windproof fronted jersey, assorted base layers and 3/4 length shorts to keep the knees warm that does me for the coldest days I encounter.

    Small packable waterproof is always in my bag in case it rains and I keep spare socks at work because putting cold, wet socks on to ride home is no fun.

  27. James N 25/09/2013 at 10:39 pm #

    The Key to winter cycling is to be well prepared. Service your bike before the cold and wet weather arrives. Make sure you have adequate lighting. and check those tyres not just for pressure but also for any damage. I would sooner spend £35 on a new good quality tyre and lower the risk of fixing a puncture with freezing hands.
    For clothing Merino wool as a base layer is the best. I use a buff under my helmet to keep the brain warm. A cold head will cause slower reaction times. 2 pair of gloves when it is really cold a thin cotton pair under my waterproof gloves. Waterproof overshoes in bitter conditions
    I always lay out my gear the night before, which makes it less likely that I will whimp out.
    If we get heavy snow this winter I may well try the specially studded tyres that are commonplace in Sweden. That could be fun. I consider riding in cold wet and snowy conditions a challenge.Bring it on.

  28. TOM 26/09/2013 at 3:09 am #

    I find London Cyclist to be a great site and I live in Portland, Oregon USA ….my son studied at UEL and tells me that the fall/winter weather there in London is very similar. wet/cool/gray.

    I ride 365 and one of my secrets came from one of my weaknesses. My eyes water badly in cold air. I tried many solutions but the best one was to use snowboarding goggles. Problem is … they don’t fit well with a bike helmet.

    So the next step was to get a snowboarding helmet … goggles meshed in perfectly. So NOW I have ear flaps that have cutouts for stereo headphone speakers (yes, I keep the volume low) and my ears are warm. It also has removable vent covers , put the blocks in when raining or super cold and pull them out if too warm.

    Last time I went into a bike shop wearing it, the salesman remarked that his shop should be selling those too.

    I don’t have special shoes, but on very wet days , a plastic shopping bag (quart size) around my socks before the shoes go on …keeps my feet dry and warm

    Really love those days when most riders are hiding in the house and I have the whole road/path to myself

    TOM

  29. Silicone Tidds 26/09/2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Winter cycling is what it’s all about… Other than ice, there is no excuse! No better cup of tea than the one after the home-leg of a winter commute!

  30. Dave 26/09/2013 at 1:21 pm #

    You drink iced tea? In winter?

  31. Harry 27/09/2013 at 11:38 am #

    Can’t say i love winter cycling, but it still beats the tube & buses!!!

    There are fewer cyclists out in winter, so i enjoy the freedom on the roads a bit more. In terms of winter gear, a snood is my saviour!!!! my face is usually most affected by cold, so a decent snood does the trick!

    also very good gloves!!! I miss my summer mitts, but a thick, quality pair of gloves always saves the day.

  32. Cecillia 27/09/2013 at 11:39 am #

    I change tyres depending on the season. I use wider tyres with a deeper groovesduring winter and racing slicks during the summer.

    Cheers

  33. Therese 27/09/2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I would never consider not cycling through the winter – cycling keeps me sane and fit, and unless I am literally snowed in, nothing will stop me. I love the drama of cycling through wind, snow and rain, it makes me feel almost superhuman, or at least stronger and more stubborn than everyone else!

    Maybe it’s my Belgian head-strongness, having grown up in a cycling-mad but permanently cold and wet country, coupled with a poorly paid publishing job, which makes public transport a non-option unless I want to forego food for a week per month. Regularly turning up at work looking like a drowned rat seems to amuse my colleagues rather than get on their nerves so there really is no reason to stop!

  34. Chris 28/09/2013 at 6:11 pm #

    I’m fairly new to London and realised pretty quickly that cycling is a great way of exploring the city and also cutting down the commute time, the bike is shaving off around 40minutes a day which makes a big difference. I’ve really enjoyed cycling during the summer but my mind is now turning towards winter, I want to keep going for as long as possible so I’m currently contemplating what winter gear to buy, I’ll be keeping an eye on the blog for some very welcome advice!

  35. Martin 28/09/2013 at 6:58 pm #

    I built an old jump bike into a Winter fixie – fat, knobbly tyres, low stand over height and nothing to go wrong(?!). Of course, you need the right clothing, but it’s always better than not being on the bike. Just need some ice tyres now, as that’s still an issue.

  36. Campbell 30/09/2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I ride in Sussex during the weekends, and nothing beats a crisp winter’s morning run along the coast to Beachy Head. Layer up and go!

  37. Mike White 01/10/2013 at 7:57 am #

    Of course I ride through winter!

    As you can see from my .ca email address I am from Canada, and what you consider winter here, I consider spring/fall. Either way, I never let a little coldness stop me from riding.

    I will say, cycling in -40 is an interesting experience, it’s really tricky to regulate your temperature.

  38. Lindsey Mayor 01/10/2013 at 2:05 pm #

    Such cold ears! Last year I bought one of those cap things that fit under a helmet and cover the ears, but by the time it arrived the weather had warmed up and I never used it. I also have a buff so i’m well prepared to stop my face going numb.

    Nothing feels better than hopping in the shower at work to warm up after an hour in freezing weather.

  39. ghirmay 02/10/2013 at 11:23 am #

    I have been riding for a while and i always feel guilty to leave my bike behind given the fact that its reliabilit- it is way better than public transport.

    No matter how terrible the weather can be, i will still hop on my bike and enjoy the freedom my bike offers me. Such an incredible experience to cycle in winter despite the weather could be exteremly unfriendly.

    Layer up and keep pedalling!

  40. Katharine 02/10/2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I cycled all through last year. It was the first winter when I got no sniffles, sore throats or colds. Could it be to do with avoiding the overcrowded, humid tubes and buses full of people and their germs?

    And as for the cold, which is worse; a cycle in the cold or waiting in it aaaages for a bus or train. I’d rather get moving and get home for a cup of tea thank you!

  41. Terry 02/10/2013 at 10:48 pm #

    I cycled through a majority of Winter 2012 and I loved it! Leg warmers, 3/4 tights, baselayer, thicker layer, jersey and a nice thick jacket got me through the cold days. I only switched to some cycle tights when the trousers I wore when cycling tore in the arse area, causing 1) my arse to get wet and cold and 2) fellow cyclists to see said arse and perhaps laugh at my misfortune.

    Riding in the Winter makes you feel more alive; the slightest of cold breezes just forces you to power on to your destination. Of course, preparation before the ride is pivotal – nice huge mug of hot water and a bowl of muesli.

    I’m expecting this Winter to be even colder than last year, even when it was -3C around 7am. I just hope my legs are up for the cold breezes!

  42. Hellfire02 04/10/2013 at 10:38 am #

    Mudguards…….. It’s the answer to pretty much all the problems of winter. I have them on a 12 year old steel Pinarello which I’ve ridden every winter and the difference it makes is enormous. Not only in keeping the rider dry but also the bike clean – even in the worst weather. A decent pair of tyres is also a good idea – Vittoria Open Pave Evo are my favourite.

    Oh, and a decent pair of woollen socks to keep the toes warm – Prendas Winter Thermolite Socks or DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks work well.

  43. Tim Norman 04/10/2013 at 11:21 am #

    I have ridden through the winter for several years. My commute starts in the Cotswolds, train to London and ride from Paddington. I don’t want to send you all to sleep, so just a couple of recommendations for a warmer ride … merino base layers are the best, a merino neck warmer (snood to some people, Buff or Winter Collar for Rapha folk – the Rapha one can be pulled over the face and doubles as a balaclava, essentially), overshoes and definitely bottoms that cover the knees. The latter varies between warm tights, knee warmers or (having bought a pair fairly recently) 3/4 shorts as mentioned by someone else already, all dependent upon the temperature. Knees freeze with ease, so keep them toasty :)

  44. Bob Davidson 04/10/2013 at 1:22 pm #

    Cycle in winter? Naturellement! Biggest challenge is keeping my follicly challenged head

    warm.

    If it really is “parky” on goes my Norwegian X country skiing hat- keeps ears warm too-

    otherwise an ordinary buff works well (wife wears a silk balaclava- keeps cheeks+ ears

    warm).

    Have a pair of silk gloves which wear inside winter gloves- perfick. Merino wool vest is often

    too warm but is worn when it’s 0C+ below. Helly Hansen thermals underneath winter cycling

    leggings maintain the cosy effect.

    With waterproof trousers on stand by cycling in winter is pretty special especially when it is

    crisp and dry. Makes the hot chocolate + flapjack stop very worthwhile. – Rutted snow is the

    only “stopper”. Possibility of black ice requires care and speed reduction. Ride Dawes “Kara-

    kum” hybrid.

    Winter cycling is GO!

  45. Amelia 04/10/2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Invest on good gear for hands and feet which get really cold especially if wet. I wear a thin pair of gloves under thermal waterproof cycling gloves and sealskin socks which are also waterproof. I also like wearing buffs so that I can put over my head to keep my ears warm and across my face balaclava style. A good thin base layer underneath your normal cycling gear works for me – I was rarely cold last winter and was really thankful that I didn’t have to wait around freezing platforms for non existant trains. Happy cycling everyone!

  46. eilidh 05/10/2013 at 6:53 pm #

    No such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. Get on lots of layers, ensure extremeties are taken care of and embrace the cold; once you get going, it’s not so bad. In the UK we’re luckier than most with the weather. Bright crisp mornings, breath steaming and appreciation of our changing seasons all make it worthwhile. And the feeling of taking on the ride, no matter what the weather, gives a real boost. BUT never in icy conditions. Fallen off too many times to take on that challenge !

  47. Jim 06/10/2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Happy to cycle in all weathers except when there’s snow or ice on the roads. Cold winter mornings can be harsh on the fingers and ears, and having a puncture is no fun, but it still beats commuting by public transport.

  48. Andreas 07/10/2013 at 12:23 am #

    Thank you all for your entries. We’ll be picking winners shortly and announcing them here! This competition is now closed :)

  49. Andreas 11/10/2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Congrats to our winners: Graeme T, Andrew H, Chris B, Mike, Sarah R. I’ve sent you all a message with a request to confirm – please be in touch.

    Thanks to all who entered! Plenty more competitions are on the way :)

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