Now that we are deep into the winter months, with Christmas right around the corner, it is essential that cyclists take the precautions they need in order to stay safe in the cold weather.
While this may be common knowledge to a more seasoned cyclist, for those new to the sport, cycling in the winter can seem rather daunting. Luckily, the experts at Sigma Sports, a renowned cycling gear producer, have put together a list of tips perfect to help new cyclists prepare and keep safe whilst cycling in winter.
Sigma Sports Top Tips to Stay Safe This Winter
Wear Proper Footwear
Rain and snow are pretty commonplace in winter- as such, wet and cold feet commonly tend to follow. While not usually a major issue, in winter, being cold and wet can easily lead to a nasty cold, or even something worse if exposed to these conditions for a long period of time.
Sigma Sports therefore suggests getting your hands on a high quality pair of thick socks, as well as some non-slip shoes. Not only will these help keep your feet warm and dry from the elements, but also will help prevent your feet from slipping on your bike pedals. With the weather likely to cause your bike to get a bit damp, this slipperiness is inevitable, so counteracting is essential, lest you lose control of your bike and potentially take a tumble.
Sigma Sports further specify cycling shoes as an option for winter cyclists, due to their ability to better connect a cyclist’s foot to the pedal. Cycling shoes are designed with a stiff, durable sole, meaning the power is more effectively pushed into the pedal, allowing for faster movement. Despite this, these shoes also typically use lightweight and breathable fabrics, meaning that they are not painful to walk in as might be expected.
Support Your Immune System
Around the holidays, it is normal for many of us to have a change in diet- eating and drinking too much in the weeks coming up to Christmas day, and to subsequently work very hard to undo it.
However, when you do try and put in that extra exercise, know that outdoor activity in the winter is much more strenuous than warm weather exercise, with that additional strain easily able to weaken your immune system. It is why illness is so commonplace in colder months, compared to warmer ones. Sigma Sports therefore suggest taking dietary supplements to help keep your immune system active and healthy, including stocking up on vitamin D and zinc, so that you can continue to be active and ride your bike even in the cold.
While not a tip exclusive to cycling, it is certainly a tip that works. Layering up in the winter is key to keeping warm, however for cyclists, the way in which layers should be put together is a little more specific. Rather than just layering on additional t-shirts, jumpers, and a thick coat, Sigma Sports suggest layering on multiple thin, technical fabric pieces, as this is reported to provide better insulation than a single piece of thick clothing.
The best technique according to Sigma Sports experts is to start with a tight fitting base layer to draw in sweat and moisture, followed by a long sleeved second layer to keep the warm air in. Finally, an outer jacket or coat can be worn as the final layer, to help battle the rain and snow you’re likely to come across on your winter cycles. Fleece-lined or synthetic insulated jackets are particularly championed by Sigma Sports experts, due to their phenomenal job at keeping in heat.
Wear A Pair of Gloves
Cold feet are one issue, but cold hands are another entirely. In the cold, the last thing you need is for your hands to cramp while cycling, or for the rain to make keeping hold of your handlebars challenging. Sigma Sports therefore suggest a set of cycling gloves to keep out the rain, while also keeping your hands warm.
Stay Safe. Use Bike Lights
BIKE has written many articles about the importance of cycling safety, from the necessity of bike mirrors to Europe’s relationship with cycling helmets, keeping safe on the road is a major priority pushed by our team.
As such, Sigma Sports’ suggestion on using a bike light in winter is something we strongly agree with. Winter days are exceptionally short, making it very easy to get caught out in the dark even when it isn’t all that late into the day. Bike lights will keep the path ahead of you illuminated no matter how dark it is, while also making those around you aware of your presence- something especially important if you are cycling on a busy path or on the roads.