Winter is here! It wasn't just a warning on Game of Thrones, it has arrived in the northern hemisphere and has already hit northern Europe hard.
This can halt trainlines, cars and busses are left stranded and planes are grounded, with most people opting to exercise inside instead or build snowmen and have snowball fights.
And yet, in this frozen landscape, people are still riding their bikes. So, even though the weather has calmed a bit, it is still frozen out there with ice being the main danger for cyclists. We've gone through a few things to look out for and other things you will need.
CYBER MONDAY/BLACK FRIDAY CYCLING DEALS US
- Pearl Izumi Pro thermal jersey: Save 25% at Jenson (opens in new tab)
- Endura Pro SL Primaloft waterproof gloves: Keep warm hands with a 25% discount at Jenson (opens in new tab)
- Specialized Merino Tall Socks: Down to just $7.95 from $22.00 at Mike's Bikes (opens in new tab)
- GORE WEAR Unisex C3 Gore-tex Infinium Stretch Mid Gloves: Now $52.46 from $100 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
CYBER MONDAY/BLACK FRIDAY CYCLING DEALS UK
- Giro 100 Proof Winter Gloves: Saving of 13% on a possibly vital mitten in sub-zero weather at Tredz (opens in new tab)
- Vel 500 Lumen front light: Short nights and changeable weather means lights are vital save 40% at Sigma Sport (opens in new tab)
- Santini La Vuelta a Espana 2021 Nebula jacket: Save over £50 on an extremely stylish jacket (opens in new tab)
- Endura FS260 Pro Cycling Cap: Huge 67% off to keep your head warm in the brutal cold air (opens in new tab)
- Castelli Perfetto RoS gloves: Save 13% on one of the most popular gloves out there at Sigma Sport (opens in new tab)
Tips for cycling in snow and ice
Beware of black ice
It's never really the snow that's the problem, that's manageable even on a road bike, but black ice is your slick tyres nemesis. It's often very hard to see and if you're going at a decent speed it could prove very costly.
If your ride goes over areas that regularly have water build-up and, like many country roads, isn't gritted you should either avoid or be very careful. Try to keep central to the road as much as you can avoiding the gutter of the road.
Under bridges and around drains are also hugely hazardous in these conditions so take it steady.
This may sound odd as a cyclist, but aim for busier roads. While vehicle exhaust fumes are causing climate change (among other things) they do help melt the dangerous ice making it at least safe to ride a bike on.
Don't get bullied by the cars either, your safest place on the road is in the middle of the road which is even recommended (opens in new tab) as well as being legal.
Go loosey goosey
As my driving instructor once said, "don't show the whites of your knuckles", basically don't grip too hard. This applies to cycling in snow and ice too. You're likely very cold, in discomfort and maybe tense but you should keep in mind that you have a loose grip on the bars father than holding on for dear life.
When you're tense you go rigid which changes how you control your bodyweight. Chill out, hum a happy tune, think of the coffee, mince pie and hot shower you're going to have when back home.
Relax your shoulders and sit lie you would on any other ride with most of your weight on the rear wheels with a smooth pedal action. Don't go all Alberto Contador and be out of the saddle all the time, be more Bradley Wiggins or Tom Dumoulin.
If you find yourself gripping hard on the bars just move your hand about a little bit and it should relieve the tension that's built up and give you more control.
Try and avoid the front brake, that is not your pal in this weather, using the rear brake with early gently braking with both levers being used to gently come to a stop, put your foot down if you're really unsure but that is for when you're barely moving.
Adjust your tyre choice
If you really go into detail about tyre pressure such as reducing the pressure when riding in the wet so that there is an increased contact area with the asphalt below, this also applies to ice.
The wider the tyre anyway gives you a better contact patch and more grip because of that. So if you have got the option to use wider rubber then go for it. Also, better puncture protection is vital as you won't be wanting to change an inner tube when you can't even feel your fingers!
Dress for the conditions
It goes without saying that you're going to want to layer up. Your hands and feet suffer particularly when it's cold. Quality winter gloves and overshoes will help to keep you more comfortable and ultimately safer due to increased ability to concentrate (and feel then handlebars).
Visibility in snow flurries is important both for you and other road users. Clear glasses will prevent your eyelashes from working on overdrive, whilst a set of bike lights will help mark you out on the road.
Treat your bike afterwards
Whilst we Brits aren't typically great at dealing with snow and ice, councils are fairly good at gritting the roads (in some areas). Grit prevents the ice from forming and snow from settling - but it's basically an exfoliator for your bike components.
Whilst you'll be thankful the crystals are there as you ride, make sure you give your bike a thorough wash after your ride, drying it down and applying a thin layer of lube to prevent rust. All ready to do it all again tomorrow...
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1