Aaron Dunford from Fusion Peak writes for Karmea on being prepared for your winter rides. Hailing from Canada, he knows a thing or two about riding in extreme conditions. Our Sydney winters pale in comparison, no excuses this winter, get out and ride that bike.
Winter is almost here and there are a few things you can do to make your next early morning winter ride a fantastic one. And avoid missed training opportunities due to foul weather.
After a good night’s sleep and a warm breakfast of low GI carbohydrates and coffee you are ready to suit up. I like to pack the Moka Pot and lay out all my gear the night before so I can have a quick get away.
Layering is key to any winter activity, we start cold, then we warm up, sweat and when we slow down or stop we cool down again. Layering well helps us to be able to regulate our body’s temperature, especially when exercising; it is also important for our clothes to breath so we do not end up soaking wet under our rain jacket.
Let’s start at the feet, I like to wear my usual riding socks and shoes but add wind or rainproof booties, these are a great way to keep your toes warm. Ladies, I know many of you get cold and even numb toes, for comfort and efficiency on your bike you need to feel your toes. The booties will make a big difference and can be ankle high or just simple toecaps and made from 3 mm neoprene, thin nylon or even Gore-Tex. Choose something that fits snugly and doesn’t flap around, remember to always remain as aerodynamic as possible.
Leg warmers are an obvious advantage in cold weather; they come in ¾ or full length. I like the ¾ length because I always get chainring grease on my lower leg and full length would get dirty and greasy. Knicks over top and chamois cream underneath finish up the lower layers. For extreme rain and cold, there are some great full or ¾ length cycling pants that are made from waterproof / breathable materials and are excellent but since moving to Australia mine have not been used.
On top if it’s really cold, a polypropylene or wool undershirt can be good but it’s hard to shed on the go, I like a long sleave jersey (arms can be pulled up once you warm up). Or arm warmers as they can be pulled down and stowed easily. A good wind proof vest or jacket is key to keeping your core warm, and again can be stripped once you have warmed up. I like to use a vest because I find I can cool down quite easily by simply opening the zipper slightly. When choosing a rain jacket, make sure if it has hood that it can be stowed in the jacket’s collar, if not it will rub on your helmet and may even fill up with rain.
Full-fingered gloves are a must on a cold morning, if you can’t feel your fingers, how can you feel your brakes? If you like padding in your mitts Specialized makes some very well padded full fingered gloves.
And last but not least, in Canada on a cold day I wear a toque under my helmet, also know as a beanie or wool hat it can in fact be made of wool or nylon and should fit snugly and cover the ears.
Now you are dressed for a cold and or wet ride. You need to make sure your bike is ready to go too. Check your tyre pressure; lowering tyre pressure will increase your contact surface area and increase friction on wet roads, five PSI lower can be effective. If you don’t have a track pump with a gauge, buy one. Lube your chain with light chain oil, I like biodegradable products as the seem to be less sticky. Always wipe the oil off the chain to keep your drive train clean. Old towels make the best rags. It’s also a good idea to lube your derailleur pivots, again wiping excess oil. Keep an eye too on dirty rotten brake pads they are worn heavily in the rain.
Lights; check your lights are working well. I keep fresh batteries for my lights in the garage next to my lube and rag and pump, and will gladly forfeit a ride if my lights are not working. They are paramount for your safety. Also any new purchases of winter riding gear should have some reflective value, the more the better. And treat your self to the good stuff, you will be glad you did especially when it gets really ugly and all your friends sleep in.
Mudguards are in the realm of the dog sled for most of us in Sydney, we would never use them… However a great friend of mine once told me a sad story where she was turned around at an early morning group ride in the U.K. for not having mudguards. In Canada we use mudguards 8 months out of the year and many cyclists have a winter bike some with heated bar tape. The thing about the mudguard is, they are not cool and make your bike look slow. They do however keep you, your bike and your mates cleaner and dryer.
Winter riding is colder, darker and more dangerous than riding in the summer but if you take care of your bike and you body you will be warm, visible and running smooth on your next winter ride.Read our blog on our bike fit experience with Aaron here. Aaron is also an amazing bike techy and is available for servicing and general bike love when ever your trusty steed needs that little extra attention! Contact Aaron today for more details.
Fusion Peak Cycle Fitting
69 Fairlight Street, Fairlight NSW 2094
Telephone : 0449 665 151