The Ultimate Riding Tips for Winter Cycling

We’ve had a lot of people from the Bia Cycling Club ask how to keep warm through the winter.

So we decided to put together the top 5 Ultimate Riding Tips for Winter Cycling.

With the cold and rain, it’s easy to feel like winter is just dreary. The problem is when we allow the dreariness to settle and end up overeating, overshopping or feeling down.

A recent article titled “ What Scandinavians Can Teach Us About Embracing Winter” by psychologist Kari Leibowitz talks about adopting a positive winter mindset.

“In Tromso, the sun doesn’t rise at all for two months. They get, at most, a few hours of indirect light a day from the end of November to the end of January. Yet the residents of Tromso have low rates of seasonal depression. One reason, I learned, is that they tend to have a “positive wintertime mindset.”

People there see the winter as a special time of year full of opportunities for enjoyment and fulfillment, rather than a limiting time of year to dread.”

We decided to adopt this approach to riding through winter. Not only will riding through winter keep your form for the summer but it’ll turn even the Grinch into a winter riding fan. 

1. Accept at first, it’ll be cold

The thing is that most likely you’re going to hate the first half hour of your ride. It’ll be cold and you’ll be wondering why you left your cosy home but after that, the irony is you’ll probably get over it. 

HOT TIP: Never start your ride with a chill. This is a recipe for a miserable outing because your extremities will get cold very quickly. Drink a hot drink before going out and you’ll set yourself up for a good ride. You can also get a stainless steel thermos that fits in your bottle cage with some herbal tea in it – keeps you warm ON your ride!

2. Layer

Layering bike clothing is the right strategy for winter cycling. Start out feeling a little cool because you’ll warm up as you ride. For the upper body wear a close base layer (either a technical wicking fabric or merino), then a couple of other layers depending on HOW cold it is. Breathable is good if it’s cold, but if it’s wet, you want a proper shell that keeps the wet out.They key is to not sweat. Make sure you moderate your temperature by allowing air to flow when you start getting warm, while climbing for example. Sweat will make you wet, and that will make you cold.

HOT TIP: Buy Quality Kit! The quality kit may be more expensive but it lasts longer and also does a better job of keeping you warm and dry when it matters most! Proper kit will last longer if you look after it, and wash it correctly, so invest wisely.!

3. Waterproof up

With the spatter of water, snow, and grit from roads, we suggest a quality waterproof overlayer. Showerproof won’t do it – you need quality materials, such as the AGU Prime Rain Jacket – that are waterproof but breathable too!

Remember there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear!

4. Bottom Up

Warmth is lost quickest through the top and bottom of the body; namely the feet and the head. A cycling cap or skullcap (or both together if it’s cold enough!)  that fits under your helmet adds a surprising amount of warmth. To keep your toes toasty during your ride, we recommend sheepskin soles, merino/waterproof/thick socks, as well as waterproof overshoes.

HOT TIP – If you get REALLY cold feet, consider buying heated insoles for your shoes. They plug in and charge (like an external battery) and then switch on when you insert them. Remember to remove your existing sole so your shoes still fit!

5. Prep your bike

Winter riding can wreak havoc on your bicycle so pay attention to its care and upkeep. Make sure you clean the bike, chain, gears, brakes and wheel rims on a regular basis.

HOT TIP – Pop into The Hub 

Our specialist bike mechanic Ferdi will be happy to prep your bike for winter riding. Simply click here to book.

Winter cycling is not an all-or-nothing thing. You don’t have to be doing the kind of miles you did in summer. Start slowly to help build confidence, hone skills, and shakedown your gear. Make it fun! Ride with mates. Discover new places and plan fun events like our recent ride out to see the London lights.

And for some final inspiration, we always find it helps to be inspired with an event for the future. In 2022, we have some exciting trips planned with Bia Escapes but if that seems too far in advance for now, just join us on one of our Friday-Ridedays.

We promise good fun and coffee, of course!

Enjoy a lovely morning on your bike with other women, spending time doing what we love: riding, chatting, and having coffee and cake! The ride is free, just bring some cash for the spoils at the cafe stop. All levels welcome and we encourage and welcome all beginners.

Any more questions on keeping fit and sane through winter?

Join us at The Bia Hub for a coffee and cake and for any advice on winter riding.

Until then, keep warm, safe and happy!

Jenni and the team from Bia Cycling