Part 1 - "The great Outdoors"

Cycling outdoors during the winter can be both demanding and also so incredibly special, in this instalment of our winter cycling features we look at what things you need to consider if riding through the winter months.

So why would you want to take to the great outdoors?

Well first of all cycling just isnít the same anywhere else.  You get to take in the scenery, get some fresh air and after all it's what we do for every other season of the year.

Winter training is generally done at lower intensity but longer distances. A common phrase often heard at this time of year is "Getting in the winter miles for summer SmilesĒ and an element of this is very true, certainly youíre not going to be going anywhere near as well in the summer if youíve had 3 months off the bike over the winter.

However the need to ensure you and your bike are as equipped as well as you can be during this season is vital, after all becoming ill or crashing when it could have been prevented will also lead to time off the bike.

So what will I need in order to carry on training outside at this time of year?

Broken into 2 parts lets first look at what is needed in terms of the bike.

First of all if youíre cycling on the road youíll need to carry out regular maintenance and cleaning of the bike much more regularly. This is of course the time of year when roads often get gritted and the salt will find its way into the chain and cables causing a lot of damage. So our advice is to degrease the chain at least once per week or if you have time after every outdoor ride during the winter and re apply chain lubrication. The rest of the bike should also be cleaned after each ride with a quick spray of lubricant on any exposed moving parts such as the spring of the rear mech, brake callipers and along all exposed cables.

  • Check your tyres- Just as you would in your car pay special attention to the tread and wear, if the tyres need to be replaced then going for a winter tyre is a good option to see you through the winter. These will have more tread and itís a good idea to go for a slightly wider width to increase the contact area. 25mm width tyres would be a good choice. Finally reduce the pressure in your tyres to 90 PSI this will allow greater grip on the ground and reduce the chance of slipping on wet surfaces.
  • Lights- It goes without saying at this time of year, even if you head out at the lightest part of the day you donít want to be caught out if delayed on your ride or the weather changes suddenly, also the majority of cars now have daylight running headlights to make them more visible to other road users so it is worth considering doing the same with your own lights and if possible having spares with you should your lights fail mid ride.
  • Mudguards- Not exactly the trendiest of things to add to your beautifully engineered aerodynamic bike, it certainly wonít make you go any faster but it will allow you and the others who ride with you to ride in comfort for much longer whilst also reducing the amount of time youíll need to spend after the ride cleaning bike and kit. There are a lot of different options available from small clip on plastic protectors such as the ASSSAVER range, this offer a quick, simple and cheap way of keeping your kit clean but do nothing for the poor rider following your wheel on a wet ride. Instead we would recommend going for front and rear full mudguards, these come in either traditional framed ones that attach to eyelets located on the front forks and rear of the frame, if you donít have these on your bike then there are "clip onĒ versions available that do the same job, however these can move during the ride and rub against the tyre. Currently on offer here & get 10% off with your British Cycling membership
  • Spares- With hedges getting trimmed and more debris washed into the road if you donít already then you should certainly consider taking 2 spare inner tubes out on a ride with you, a spare folded tyre is also recommended along with a way of inflating the new tyre quickly to avoid yourself & others on the ride getting cold from hanging around whilst you carry out the repairs. It may be worth considering using Co2 canisters, these will inflate your tyre to 100psi in less than 5 seconds compared to 3 mins with a standard bike pump. Though itís worth also carrying a pump just in case the canister fails to work correctly or you have a slow puncture which could just be topped up with air in order to get home.



There really is a wide and varied range of kit available for all sorts of weather conditions and temperatures, some of which are very expensive. Generally though a rider will generate enough heat during the ride to keep themselves warm  but itís the effects of the wind & wet that will see the riders body temperature drop dramatically.

Two of the most popular winter materials to look for are gortex and windtex, Goretex is brilliant in keeping you dry during rides when itís already wet whereas Windtex will keep the wind chill off you and retain the body heat, however the windtex properties are wiped out as soon as the product gets wet so checking the weather forecast is essential before getting kitted up for a ride.

There are expensive products that can do both jobs for you but you can get the same effect by layering up on your rides. A typical example of this would be:

  1. A base layer/ vest
  2. Short sleeved jersey
  3. Long sleeved "RoubaixĒ jersey
  4. Winter Gillet
  5. Rain Jacket to put on as soon as you feel spots of rain.


Itís a fine line to walk as you want to remain warm but donít want to overheat during the ride, therefore layering up does at least give you options, as a guide the GB team riders will not expose arms or legs unless the temperature is over 16 degrees for racing or 18 for training.

Ears, fingers, faces & Toes-

Itís these extremities of the body that will first feel the effects of the cold and cause you to end the ride early, keep these warm and youíll be more comfortable on your rides. To protect your ears you can wear cycling ear warmers, however if taking this option on the road remember to not rely on your ears to hear for a car and use your eyes instead as noise is certainly muffled out.

Faces- Cold noses and lips are not nice and can damage the skin, a lip balm is one thing that can help or to also help protect from a lung full of cold air why not invest in a buff or neck tube, a great versatile bit of kit that can be used as a hat, neck warmer, balaclava, ear warmer or headband.

Toes- Nothing is worse than cold toes, think about what socks to wear, a warm & often water proof sock are a great idea, but also invest in overshoes, as with the winter jackets there are lots of options available depending on the conditions, if you know it is likely to remain dry then a windtex pair will protect you from the wind or if itís wet then neoprene does an excellent job by allowing some water through but using it to warm and insulate the feet.

Fingers- As with the overshoes you can get gloves in the same materials, the fingers are essential to protect considering youíll find it hard to change gear or brake with out them so make sure they are covered on all rides at this time of year, if the weather changes mid ride and your hands start to get cold even with gloves then a top tip is to carry a pair of first aid/ latex gloves with you, put these on under your main gloves and your hands will warm up really quickly.  

Kit for Sale

Finally if the conditions on the road look to dangerous and we get a load of snow why not grab a MTB and head off road, itís great fun, a good workout and certainly something different

Next week we look at staying indoors.