Riding in the Winter has a unique feel to it, without a doubt.
Some will say they love the bracing feel of an early morning ride, with the winter sun and frost or receding snow. Winter sights and sounds invigorate, and are a great pick-me-up at the end of perhaps, a week kooked up behind a desk.
Others, on the mention of riding between October and April, develop a haunted look as they relive the dark tunnel of commuting from home to work and back again, week in, week out.
So you have no other alternative but to ride in the winter. What to wear is key (technique is also important and covered later)
Here's my breakdown of what could work for you, part or all.
1. Layering - It's obvious but layers can help massively in cold weather riding. Trapping air increases insulation and prolongs your comfort. Whether you want to use natural fibres (merino wool) or synthetics (polyester) is a personal choice. Look out for layers that 'wick' moisture away from skin.
2. Outer shells - wind-proof is probably just as important as shower proof. Most jackets and trousers do both, but you can start with wind proof and have your shower proof garments easily accessible when it starts to rain.
3. Extremities (feet and hands) most all-season cyclists say this is the make-or-break of winter riding. If possible, neoprene overshoes are great, and long cuff, insulated gloves work too.
4. Visibility yes, VISIBILITY. Some fluo colours can look lurid but will save your bacon on gloomy days. There are alternatives that look a metallic grey in the day and a fantastic 'self illuminating' glimmer at night thanks to iridescent materials.
5. Safety headwear. It goes without saying that a cycle helmet is a must. Winter riding brings with it difficult road surfaces and increased incidents due to less light. Your head is important!
Your riding style and technique are also vital. We've already established you need lights, but your abilities are crucial when it's dark - both morning and evening. Hopefully we'll cover that in the next couple of blogs too.
Safe riding and if you are going out cycling, don't forget your bike (!)