If, like us, you’ve enjoyed cruising around with short-sleeves and sunglasses during the incredible summer we’ve just had and you’re feeling a little bit fitter and healthier; you’re probably also feeling reluctant to give up cycling as winter approaches.
Cycling has become a favourite way to pass the time, to enjoy the scenery and the easiest and most fun way to get in some exercise. Bike rides are fun and cycling is a great way to get your quota of daily exercise before and after work, school or on weekends.
Although it can be hard to motivate yourself to cycle through the winter when it’s cold and wet, cycling is one of the few physical activities that you really can do year-round. With the right equipment and bike accessories, when the nights draw in and you can’t face the thought of the gym or indeed anything but the sofa and a few hours of Netflix, just 15 minutes of cycling will guarantee a slew of health benefits, from upping your calorie burn and whipping your body into shape, to lowering your risk of certain diseases and improving your quality of sleep.
With this in mind, team Bike Parka put our collective heads together and came up with some top tips to keep you (enjoying) cycling through the winter.
1. Get togged up!
There’s the old saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ and there is some truth in it. The right windproof, thermal and waterproof gear can keep you dry and warm on rides so that you barely notice how cold it is. The impulse is to just throw on fleeces and some waterproofs to protect yourself from the cold but, even when it’s almost freezing, they will make you sweat and you’ll feel cold and damp. Cycle-specific clothing will keep you moisture-free and dry and with decent windproof/waterproof gloves and overshoes to fit on top of your normal shoes to provide a weatherproof barrier for your feet – you’ll have full protection from the elements!
2. Be prepared
If you’re riding to work or school or getting up early for a morning ride before heading to the office, then don’t leave everything until the morning. Get everything ready the night before. Those few minutes searching for a pair of gloves or a lost sock really make a difference when you’re in a rush. Likewise, having the bike ready, with lights charged and fitted and tyres inflated, means you are all set to hit the road.
3. Be seen
Don’t be put off by the dark mornings and evenings, with a set of high powered lights you can turn night into day and feel safe and confident on the road. Head to one of the many high street cycling specialists who will advise you on the best lights to suit your cycling needs. Unless you want to arrive with a bag full of wet clothes and work gear, protecting your back pack with a waterproof cover is an absolute must! Bike Parka make a nifty backpack rain cover and portable backpack, both with reflective print so you’ll not only look good but you’ll also be seen at night. Bike Parka’s products are made from Ripstop and are tough enough to offer excellent protection against any wet weather.
4. Protect your bike
If you want your bike to serve you faithfully for years to come, its proper maintenance and storage are essential. Don't leave your bike unshielded in the open air, choose a bicycle cover to protect it from dirt, dust, UV, rain, and snow and prolong its service life. Bike Parka’s stylish cover ensures your bike will be snug, dry and clean even in the harshest of weather.
5. Have a winter plan
Having a target to work towards can be a great way to get you on the bike when the weather conditions might be less than favourable. You don’t have to cycle every day, although once you start it is quite hard to stop! Commuting to work twice a week or setting a weekly or monthly distance or duration target will ensure you still feel the benefits. Apps like Strava Map My Ride or Bike Citizens make it really easy to track your progress, discover more of your local area and let you set distance goals so you can measure and share your progress.
6. Explore new routes
One way of keeping motivated is to try out some new routes around your local area. It keeps it interesting and challenging and there are plenty of free GPS tracking apps to get you going.
7. Meet a friend for a ride and a coffee/pint
Riding with a friend in bad weather can be great for morale - you’re both in it together and you’re less likely to let a friend down at the last minute. Just remember, it’s only weather, so don’t let it put you off riding in it - instead give yourselves something to forward to – coffee and cake or a well-deserved pint in the pub.
Oxford is a fantastic place to cycle around with a wonderful choice of pubs and cafes. Come rain or shine, the Bike Parka team are raring to go!