How to ride wintery conditions
As we enter December and winter is well and truly here, it’s time to think about riding your bike in wintery conditions – not just in the cold and the wet, but more dangerously, on the icy surfaces that become more of an issue as temperatures drop below the zero mark on your thermometer.
It can be tempting to put the bike away at this time of year, to avoid all the really bad weather entirely and just suck it up on public transport or driving – but we say no! Don’t do it! You can still enjoy your bike, even in the worst winter weather. Just remember these helpful tips!
Stick to the path more-travelled
While we at Specialized are no strangers to adventure and would normally encourage you to explore far and wide on your bike, at winter time it’s really better to stick to the most well-travelled routes. Small roads and country lanes are less likely to have been gritted and treated, and as such they’re more likely to be icy and dangerous. When you’re planning your routes at this time of year, be sure to stick to the larger roads where you’re sure the surface has been cleared.
Watch out for black ice
Even on well-travelled roads with lots of a car traffic, black ice can be a major safety concern for both cyclists and our petrol-guzzling fellow road-users. Black ice forms when the snow or frost melts partially, but then refreezes before the water has time to run off the road. This creates large sections of thin ice that covers the surface of the road – it’s see-through, rather than black, making it incredibly tricky to see. Our advice is to be wary and watchful at all times, and bear in mind that such ice is more likely to form in the shadows that spread over the road.
And remember, if you do hit a skiddy patch of the road, keep your cool and don’t panic. Exaggerated or sudden movements are much more likely to send you skidding than if you hold your course and go steady. Sometimes ice is unavoidable, but falling or skidding doesn’t have to be.
If it snows this winter where you are, as it already has in some parts of the UK, then you’ll want to consider switching out your regular tyres for something with a bit more grip. Cyclocross tyres offer a great way of adding some profile to the wheels of your road, or commuter bike, and if things get really snowy, there’s always the option of hardwearing studded tyres – although hopefully it won’t come to that this year.
One of the biggest enemies of a winter cyclist is the consistently low temperatures, that can turn your regular commute into a gruelling polar expedition. The best defence against the cold is not to stay indoors, or take public transport to work, though – it’s to wrap yourself up in appropriate winter gear. We think buying a good pair of gloves is one of the easiest wins in the battle against cold – as so much of the icy air that you cut through on the bike is directed over the hands as they rest on the bars. As such, investing money in a decent pair, like our Element 3.0 with Gore® Windstopper® outer and Thinsulate® insulation on the insides.
You should also invest in a pair of bib tights, as these go a long way to keeping your legs warm, and every cyclist should own a set of waterproof neoprene overshoes for keeping muck, rain and snow away from their feet.
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