Training or riding on bicycle in colder environment is no more different that doing it on other weather condition, except wearing required cycling gear and possible difficulties at handling (especially breaking). But besides proper clothing, it is vital to have a proper and sufficient preparation in order to avoid freezing, blowouts, serious bike damage, reduce the chance of falling from slippery tarmac and increase your own visibility for safety. Pay attention to these few following tips in order to improve functionality and comfort whilst cycling in winter:
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Essential Repairing Kit:
Having cold weather also means wet, freezing and slippery roads. In another words there is increased chance getting tire defect or puncture, so always bring 2 spare inner tubes, efficient hand- pump and required tire repairing kit. If you have nowhere to store it (full pockets with food and gadgets), bring backpack or cut the top of your old bottle which you can carry in rear cage, wrap tubes & kit in plastic bag to protect it from wet/dirt and put it in.
To protect your toes from freezing cyclists wear thick socks and overshoes, but sometimes it is not enough. In order to keep them warm you must pedal constantly, but they can quickly lose heat and freeze during curvy downhill or strong cold wind blowing at your front. Having an extra pair of socks or overshoes will help and you can also warp a bit of aluminum foil around your toes for additional insulation.
Nothing is more irritating than cycling with wet clothes on chill wind. Besides freezing out you can have serious problems focusing on handling in corners and also could catch a cold. Bring a backpack with a towel, changing clothes and thermos bottle. You will have extra effort on climbs because of the weight, but still is better that freezing yourself downhill. Before changing, find shelter to protect you from wind or rain and afterwards warm yourself up with hot drink.
Safety in Traffic:
With winter will often come gloomy weather with poor visibility and it is important to equip your bike with proper additional accessories, such as front/rear or stand-by lights and reflective stripes. You will be more noticeable for other traffic participants and reduce the chance being involved in traffic accident.
Slick and skinny tires are diffidently not an option for winter cycling. Even if the weather is cold but still dry, you will not get the same traction as riding on warmer days. Have chunkier and wider tires for more grip, handling and comfort. For rainy or wet-chilly conditions, it is good idea to reduce tire pressure in order to increase griping surface between tarmac and tire. That way you will further improve traction and it will help you with breaking, along with cornering downhill.
More Often Bicycle Maintenance:
Keep your bike clean and keep it always indoors, especially during winter bad weather or exposure will lead towards corrosion and parts malfunction. Roads on winter days can be filled with dirt, mud and scraps of material that could damage tires and gearing, so often inspections on your tires and regular chain cleaning/lubricating will prevent it from happening. Wearing mudguards on wheels can save you from a lot of trouble, protecting frame and yourself from getting wet or dirty, so it is desirable to have them on.