With the weight of the Mallorca 312 weighing on my shoulders, winter cycling this year has been fairly full on for me. My goal is to cycle 200km+ each week, most times this is something I’ve managed to achieve, of course the weather has stopped play occasionally.
I’ve learned some important lessons this winter, which will stay with me for many more winters to come.
1 -Always give your winter bike a good service before you need it
When the clocks changed, the winter bike comes out of hibernation resplendent with her mudguards and lights, weighing an absolute tonne! I didn’t think to check her for wear and tear, just presumed that the old faithful would be OK. How wrong I was, after miles and miles that felt like stirring porridge I just thought I wasn’t improving, turns out the Bottom Bracket was in pieces within its casing. I only found this out as the gears weren’t behaving and a trip to our local bike shop late and the winter bike came out with a new cassette, new chain, new cables and a new Bottom Bracket. After some love and attention she was running well, and most importantly, the cycling stopped feeling like (such) hard work. Servicing your bike is important – don’t ignore it!!
2 – Always buy the best winter gear you can afford
As the daughter of two hardy outdoors types, I thought I understood this rule pretty clearly, but the extra miles in the saddle this year have really driven home this point. It’s difficult with cycling to wear enough clothes without feeling stuffed like the Christmas Turkey! Being warm and dry can make even the most miserable day, manageable. I’ve been wearing the Sportful No Rain Winter Bib Tights, which have been amazing and repel the water even on really wet days, they also stood up to some evening cycling where the temperature dropped to -6*c. Don’t underestimate how important a good base layer is, my Rapha Merino Baselayer has kept me warm and most importantly wicks the sweat away, so you’re not damp and then get cold. There are a million other tips out there, such as wrapping your feet in clingfilm. But get the basics right and winter cycling has plenty to offer.
3 – Don’t forget to eat!
Riding along on the flat in a group, it’s very easy to forget to do the basics such as eat. The change in the weather also brought about a reduction in the number of cafe stops, I found myself doing 100km on nothing more than a bowl of porridge. not good. It’s really difficult to pack food in your jersey that’s easy to eat with gloves on, but I found that the ubiquitous Team Sky Rice Cake does the trick perfectly. My personal addition is the removal of cream cheese for the addition of Nutella. This made something that I was looking forward to eating, and most importantly something I could eat on the go, without taking a glove off. Once I started eating on the bike, my mood improved dramatically, turns out I’m quite a happy little cyclist when I’m well fed!
Winter cycling really makes sure you’ve got the basics in order; well oiled machine, warm and well fed human; certainly improved my experience this year.