Many riders are put off going out on their wheels in the depths of winter. In the UK not only are you battling mud, frost and cold winds, but you could also be caught in showers of rain or snow during your visit.
With this in mind, you need to be prepared for every eventuality. We have a huge amount of experience in getting on our bikes no matter the weather, so we’re sharing our top tips for hitting the trails during the colder months.
#1. Be Prepared
There are going to be unknowns in every situation, but even when biking on a trail you have done a thousand times before, the weather can throw a huge curveball. With this in mind you should be taking measures to ensure that your plan can be changed should anything crop up. You may find that you need to cut your ride short if the weather gets too bad, or you start getting too cold. You will also likely cover less distance than you usually would in the same time frame.
Hitting the trails in the winter you can encounter the worst conditions, wind, rain, low temperatures… all part of the fun!
#2 Stick to trails you know and plan accordingly
During the winter months, when there is more debris and mud on the ground, you can struggle to see what lies ahead. That means navigating a new route could land you in serious trouble. By sticking to the known, you are more likely to avoid injury or damage to your bike. Its hard enough biking through the mud, over the leaves and through the snow without also having to work out where the edges of the trail are. If you do fancy something new, then maybe maintained trails like at a bike park or a trail centre could do the trick. If not, then planning will be required, make sure you do your research on the route you’re going to take.
Its also a great idea to start with an uphill to get the heart pumping. Its going to be cold and you want to start by getting your body temperature up so that you don’t feel the chill as much.
#3 Wear the right gear
Gloves will be your friend in the winter. So will base layers and layering up. A lot of people think winter means thick clothes, but that’s not always the case. Thick clothing can stop your body from breathing and trap the heat and sweat as you bike. Therefore the gloves you choose are really important. You don’t want anything bulky as you need to be able to feel the handlebars under you, and as your hands get exposed to the elements during a ride, you want to ensure your gloves are waterproof too.
Wearing the right clothing is essential for any bike ride, let alone a winter mountain bike ride. You want breathable layers and waterproof, insulated cycling shoes. Breathable jackets or gilets and neck tubes work to keep the chill off the top half of your body which will get battered by the weather the most as you ride.
Glasses will help protect your eyes from the mud and weather to ensure that nothing can damage your eyes.
#4 Use the right bike components
The bike tyres you opt for in winter will be different to the standard tyres you use throughout the rest of the year. You will need to use tyres with more open tread pattern and may need to change your preferred tyre pressures as a lower pressure will give you more traction.
Other accessories to consider are mud guards to help protect you from the additional mud and spray that will be kicked up when on the trails.
#5 Stay hydrated
When the weather is cold, you may not think about the dehydration that is a worry during the summer months. But the truth is, you can suffer from dehydration when it’s cold too. Drinking freezing cold water from your hydration pack or bottle won’t be as pleasant as drinking a hot cuppa after your ride, but you will be grateful when you’re not battling dizziness.
With that in mind you also need to make sure that you eat the right foods and ensure you have the nutrients you need to keep going. If you’re going on a long bike ride, then make sure you have snacks in your pack and factor in a break during the ride.
There’s no greater exhilaration than getting out for a ride, so don’t put that on hold over the colder months. Buy your bike clothing, components and more from ASA Cycles to make sure you are prepared, then enjoy.