Winter Cycling Tips
16 December 2020 20:01
Now that the glorious days of summer are long gone are you wondering what to do when the weather has turned cold and dark ? Well the good news is that you don’t have to hang up your wheels and hibernate till Spring. Luckily around this part of the world we are blessed with some lovely country roads that you can safely cycle on all year round. I’ve put together some handy hints and tips below to keep you riding even in the darkest depths of the British winter.
As a rule, in winter its best to stick to the wider, flatter roads that have more chance of being gritted rather than twisty, tree lined country lanes. Also be aware of ice on the roads, if you can delay the start of your ride till later in the morning/early afternoon when any ice will hopefully have melted away. Also make sure that your bike is winter ready and your tyres are in a good condition. You can get winter specific tyres that are designed to give more grip in the colder months and Continental 4 seasons seem to be the tyre of choice in the club. Mudguards are also a good investment for winter and will keep you and the bike protected from the debris and muck on the road. Even your bike doesn’t have eyelets to fit them, you can get clip on versions that will fit to almost any frame.
Probably the most important thing to get right in the colder months is your clothing. Unlike running, it’s the windchill with cycling that really cools you down, so make sure that you wear plenty of layers. There are loads of options out there for winter cycling clothing from the cheap to eye wateringly expensive. You don’t need to splash out on the latest technology to get out and enjoy it, but just need to think about what you are wearing. For example, more thin layers are better than one thick one as this gives you the option to unzip/remove if you get too warm & make sure that the outermost layer is a windproof one. Lastly, and maybe most importantly look after your hands, feet and head. These are probably the three areas where you will feel the cold most, so a good pair of gloves is a must along with socks that will keep your feet warm and dry. If you have cycling specific shoes then overshoes will do a great job in keeping your feet warm and dry. As for your head, a simple buff under your cycling helmet will keep your head warm.
So to get you started, here are a couple of tried and tested routes. Both are pretty flat and on wide roads that aren’t too busy with traffic. The first heads out from Bassingbourn and does a loop through Meldreth, Shepreth, Barrington, Foxton, Fowlmere, Melbourn and back Bassingbourn (18 miles). There is also the excellent hot numbers café in Melbourn for some warming coffee and cake !
The second route starts from Ashwell and is a two loop winter course. Loop 1 is 16 miles and loop 2 is 14 so you can either do one or both depending on how far you want to go. For loop 1 this heads out of Ashwell up Loves lane to Edworth before a gentle climb up to Sutton/Potton and then a return to Ashwell via Wrestlingworth and Guilden Morden. Loop 2 add Steeple Morden, Shingay, Bassingbourn and Littlington before a return to Ashwell via Ashwell station.
Hope that these top tips are enough for you to get out and enjoy the lovely Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire countryside in all seasons.