01 Dec Winter Riding Hints and Tips
Posted at 17:24h in Latest News
Well, the weather has now turned!! how far away do those 40-degree days feel now?
We are now well into the winter riding season, rain, mud, cold, dark and sometimes not very welcoming. However, that does not mean that your riding days are over, follow these hints and tips and you should still be riding all through the winter.
- Mudguards – yes, they don’t look particularly cool, but they work. Whether you go for the full mudguard or just a short one to keep the mud out of your eyes. They have definitely been developed with MTB in mind now, a long rear mudguard will keep your backside a lot warmer and drier than without. If putting on a full sus bike, ensure the compression doesn’t contact your mudguard.
- Gloves – long finger, windproof and waterproof. Gloves have come on a great deal although we still haven’t found a fully waterproof pair. Try and go for ones that are as thin as possible so the “feel” is still good. If you can’t get waterproof gloves an idea to try would be rubber or medical gloves under your normal ones, will keep your hands warm but you will sweat.
- Waterproof Socks – possibly the best invention ever!! if you ride with waterproof trousers these will keep your feet nice and toasty, if you wear shorts you may find water ingress at the top of the socks. They do come up rather thick so remember that when buying, you may need bigger shoes. Our Bike Park Officer Paul has winter shoes 1 size bigger that he uses with his waterproof socks.
- Trousers – warmer than shorts and you get less muck on you after you get changed. For the full benefit go for waterproof trousers as well. These can get pricey but if you shop around, you should still be able to find some deals.
- Base Layer – a good tight fitting merino wool base layer is well worth the investment, ensure it has sweat wicking properties
- Mid Layer – a long sleeve layer that goes between base layer and outer jacket, thermal and insulating is a good idea
- Jacket – this is a minefield!! there are many different properties, windproof, waterproof, sweat wicking, breathability, vents, pockets, hoods, drawstrings, loose or tight fitting, lightweight, packable etc. Get the best you can afford, look at a rating of at least 15,000mm waterproof and 20,000mm breathability. have a look at all the features, decide what you want from it and search, ask other riders what they wear etc.
- Footwear – you COULD still wear your canvas Vans but they wont last very long, get yourself some decent winter shoes/boots, they will be more comfortable, weather proof and worth it in the long run. If you can’t get some you could put plastic bags in your trainers, you will be warm but sweaty!!
- Skull Cap – this is a roadie trick that we feel is a great idea. A thin fabric usually merino wool that goes under your helmet and covers your ears. Invaluable and easy to stow away if it gets too hot.
- Bib Shorts/Tights – another roadie trick. Yes, they don’t look cool, but they do keep you warm, with the straps over your shoulder they won’t slip down and get your midriff cold. NOTE: wear them under your normal riding gear!!
- Neck Gaiter – a thin “snood” type neck warmer, try and get one that is at least 18inches long, double it up for your neck or unfold it and use as a skull cap, these are also pretty good in the summer to catch sweat and use as a sun shield on your head when off the bike.
- Glasses – probably not sunglasses but a clear lens to stop muck getting in your eyes, look out for ones that have good ventilation and come with spare lenses like a yellow tinted one for low light
- Getting Changed – If you’re travelling by car/van with your bike you don’t want to get in with wet and muddy clothes. Take something to stand on and get changed, we use old Ikea bags to stand in, let all your muddy clothes drop in and stay there, have another dry bag to stand in when changed and put on your clean, dry and warm clothes. Have a towel as well to dry down and some water handy to wash hands face etc. is a good idea. You can also purchase something called a “Dry Robe” which is a big fleece lined coat that gives you loads of room to move and saves your modesty as it covers up pretty much everything.
- Look After Your Bike – mud, grit, sand, water etc. can get everywhere, clean it regularly, use a winter lube for your chain, look at bearings. Check your brake pads for wear especially after a wet and muddy ride. Do you want more aggressive chunkier tyres to cope with the reduced grip? look at lowering your tyre pressures slightly to increase footprint and grip.
- Lights – the nights are drawing in, if you think you might be out when it starts getting dark, please use lights, decent ones can be picked up fairly cheaply. If you want “to be seen” you can pick up some lights for around £10, If you want “to see” then you are looking at a minimum of 500 lumens and we would suggest bar mounted and helmet mounted. The more powerful the better.
- Be Careful – you may know the trail like the back of your hand, but they can change very quickly with heavy rain, snow, wind, leaves, sticks etc.