Cycling in winter brings its own magic: Crisp, clear days; perhaps the occasional snow shower; and the idea of a hot drink waiting for you at the end of your cycle. But some people miss out because they only think of cycling in the summer.
There are simple tips for making your winter cycling as enjoyable as it is in the warmer months – and you can see some of these below.
If you need a little more encouragement, Ealing Council runs cycle training all year round through Cycle Training UK (CTUK). It offers tailored help to cyclists of all abilities – from beginners upwards. So, you can learn any time you like – it is not a seasonal thing.
You may not have cycled for a while and just need a confidence boost or perhaps some advice and practice for cycling on roads in the winter. Why not give the cycle training a go?
Andy Brathwaite did just that. He has since rediscovered the joys of cycling and says there is ‘no looking back’. Andy, from Ealing, wanted to attempt a charity ride to raise some money in memory of a close friend who had died. The only catch was that he had not ridden a bike since being a teenager.
Although Andy, 53, thought he would still be able to cycle, he wanted to make sure he would be safe and feel confident on the roads, especially when dealing with traffic.
Andy said “The training I received really helped me to build my road confidence and learn the safest way to cycle around the streets of Ealing. I would recommend it to anyone. The training can be changed depending on what you need or want to learn – from new to more experienced cyclists.”
‘CYCLING IS MY THING NOW; I LOVE IT’
His fundraising for Friends of Royal Brompton Hospital led Andy to cycle long distance routes such as the London to Brighton Bike Ride. He has just completed the Richmond to Windsor Bike Ride, and has already booked to cycle to Brighton again next year.
“The training definitely helped with my long-distance rides, and cycling is ‘my thing’ now; I love it,” said Andy. “Through winter, I plan on cycling more to help me stay fit, and to regularly cycle to and from work, which will cut my journey from 45 to 15 minutes. The colder weather won’t stop me from getting on my bike. I’ll just wear warmer clothing. There’s no looking back, now.”
DON’T GET OUT OF THE HABIT
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport, environment and leisure, said: “As a cyclist myself I know how easy it can be to think ‘it’s dark, wet and cold, I don’t fancy the bike today’ but once you get out of the habit, you start missing out on all the many benefits cycling brings. Read the tips in this article to be prepared and nothing will stop you cycling this winter.”
If you are interested in cycle training, call CTUK on 0800 093 6454 or visit its website at www.cycletraining.co.uk
- Stay safe. It is worth taking a few minutes before your ride to make sure that tyres and brakes are in good condition. Ensure brakes move freely and, after a ride, examine your tyres to make sure any debris is dislodged, helping you avoid punctures.
- Keep warm and visible. As the days draw in, wear the right clothes to keep warm and visible to other road users. A hat under your helmet, and scarf and gloves will do for shorter rides, but for a longer distance it may be worth wearing sports clothes that wick away perspiration, too. Choosing brightly coloured, reflective clothes and good road positioning will help you to be seen by traffic. You need to use front and rear lights on your bike in the dark.
- Be prepared. Have a repair kit handy to deal with any issues that may crop up when cycling through winter. You can also let some air out of your tyres to help increase the grip of your wheels, especially when it is icy.
- The WOW factor. If you are a woman and prefer to learn in a women-only environment, the council’s Women on Wheels project is just the thing for you. You can get tips, cycle maintenance sessions, training and access to women-only rides. Visit www.ealing.gov.uk/wow for more details.