Hacks to beat the cold and keep riding

How to train through a British winter without getting cold and miserable? Resourceful racer Tom Couzens has no end of tips and tricks up his draught-sealed sleeves

Winter training hacks
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

Nothing will toughen you up more than the Great British winter. Blistering cold temperatures, howling headwinds and torrential downpours – if you can endure these conditions on the bike, you can endure anything. OK, so few of us would choose to ride on roads caked in mud and littered with water-filled craters, but this is Britain, where we live, so we’d best get on with it. 

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After thousands of miles of suffering out in the elements getting the hours in, I’ve had plenty of time to think about crafty ways to make British winter riding just that bit more tolerable. In this feature, I want to share with you some of the ‘hacks’ I’ve tried and tested. They are simple yet so effective, and you’ll wish you had tried them out sooner. Sit down, take out a notebook and pen, and prepare to brighten up your winter training forever.  

1 The petrol station gloves

For British cyclists the petrol station is our winter version of the oasis in the desert. The trusty attached shop has saved me, and probably most of you, from the bonk at one point or another. But the merciful grace of the fuel station doesn’t end with its calorie-dense snacks. There is another blessed gift awaiting you at the pumps: namely, the plastic gloves. 

When you’re caught out by unexpected rain on a cold winter’s day, a set of these gloves popped on either underneath or atop your own, can be a saviour. The extra waterproof layer makes a real difference. You don’t need me to tell you, there are few tortures worse than desperately struggling to shift down the gears with numb fingers as you hit a climb late in your ride. Petrol station gloves, don’t underestimate them; they’ve saved me many times.

2 Sort that glove-jacket junction

Exactly how easy this is to achieve depends on the length and size of your gloves, but try your best to pull the cuff of the glove over the cuff of your jacket – ideally pulling the drawstring tight to form a watertight seal. If that’s not possible, try the reverse: pull your jacket’s cuff down over your gloves to seal at the wrist. On a cold windy day, snugly securing this seal stops that freezing wind from seeping up your sleeves and around your body. Yes, it’s a very simple little thing, but it honestly works wonders.

3 Tape up those shoes

Winter training hacks

(Image credit: Andy Jones)

No list of winter tips and tricks is complete without at least one deployment of duct tape. Fear not, here it is. Duct tape is perfect for taping up the holes in your shoes. With most cycling shoes being designed for use in the summer, they usually feature vents and perforations to let in cooling air – exactly what you don’t want in winter. Don’t hold back with the duct tape – seal up every single possible entry point for even the tiniest draught – can chill those toes even if you’re intending to wear overshoes. Your feet are guaranteed to stay a lot warmer for a lot longer now.

You can read the full article and discover Tom's 20 winter training hacks in the February 10 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, on sale in store and online now (opens in new tab). you can also subscribe to Cycling Weekly (opens in new tab), save on the cover price and get it delivered every Thursday. 

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