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Britain’s biggest ever sporting summer may well be over but ‘Wiggo fever’ is still spreading as the cold sets in. Those brave enough to take to the wintry roads are heroes in their own right, yet they are not invincible and safety ought to be at the forefront of every cyclist’s mind.
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The tectonic plates of the pro cycling world shift as we enter the late season; Mark Cavendish transfers from Team Sky to Omega Pharma Quick Step and Bradley Wiggins is rumoured to be shelving his Tour de France title defence, in order to focus on separate competitions.
For the civilian riders, there are plenty more miles to cover before the TDF starts next June and as the nights get darker, we can still expect to see cyclists on the roads, piercing December’s icy winds. The advice for these riders is as expected this time of year; stay safe, stay warm and stay visible:
Cyclists should always choose reliable bike lights from brands that have stood the test of time. It’s easy to take a shine to the latest innovations (e.g. a rear light that projects a cycling lane onto the road) but for this winter, the safest option is likely to be using gadgets all roadsters are familiar with.
The latest LED bike lights can adapt to overheating which, despite the winter chill, is always a possibility over long distances. These lights decrease power to conserve energy and cool down, while still emitting enough of a shine to enhance visibility on the roads.
Gloves are the absolute number one priority for commuting cyclists – especially office workers. Frozen fingers are not ideal for typing but with a quality pair of winter gloves, purple hands are no more. Reflective ‘night vision’ gloves are the best option – any piece of cycling kit made with luminous colours is a big plus when it comes to safety at night.
Neoprene fabric is designed to prevent cold water from seeping through to the skin. The newest gloves will use this in conjunction with ‘progrip’ treatment to make sure the cyclist always has a comfortable grasp on the handlebars.
Bulletproof material might seem a bit excessive but that’s exactly what Continental Ultra Gator Skin Tyres are made from. A sheet of Kevlar sits beneath the exterior rubber and reinforces the whole tyre – making it resistant to punctures. The slick tread of the rubber is designed to grip onto wet and dry roads alike and the sidewalls are armoured by a polyamide mesh layer, which again adds protection against punctures and scrapes.
So, with just these three winter cycling essentials, Britain can be geared up for an active late season and by the time the Glasgow Commonwealth Games come around (two winters away), the country could have an enormous amount of hardened talent to choose from. As civilian riders, it’s our job to keep the London 2012 momentum going and simply stay safe while we train – Wiggo will do the rest in Scotland come 2014.