Now I don’t profess to understand Cycling one bit! It’s not my bag but after speaking to a few friends who know what they’re doing, they’ve put together a little check list for me. Apparently it’s not as easy as just getting on your bike!
So thanks guys and hopefully this advice can help you when you’re out there training!
It’s easy to get changed, lace up your trainers and head outside for a quick bike ride when the sun’s shining but when winter hits it’s a whole different story. Despite many people’s opinions, it’s not December that can prove to be the coldest month, in fact, the weather in January and February can often be the most unpredictable icy, wet weeks of the entire year. However, just because it’s dark, raining or even snowing outside doesn’t mean your family should shirk their exercise routine.
Should You Be Biking Outside?
Not everyone likes cycling outside and there’s nothing wrong with using an indoor bike or even working out on an athletics track or in a velodrome. However, converts of outdoor riding say that the fresh air, sunshine and beautiful winter scenery is much more beneficial for your mental , emotional and physical health than doing endless laps on an indoor track with a personal trainer. We aren’t going to lie to you cycling in sub-zero temperatures is very different to cycling at even ten degrees, so you need to think about everyone’s health. Lots of winter mornings dawn bright, clear and extremely cold so while it’s lovely being the only people on the road or cycle path, do be aware of personal safety. If anyone has asthma make sure you take all required medical supplies such as inhalers and decongestants with you.
Wear The Correct Gear
The trick to exercising in cold weather is to layer your clothes, wear thermal underwear and choose wool, or fleece garments. Try to avoid cotton underwear as it doesn’t absorb moisture; it’ll stick to your skin and remain wet which may cause a chill. Layer everyone up with thermal tops, fleeces and thick, padded jackets plus fleece headbands under their helmets, insulated gloves and lightweight, double layer socks. Choose lined cycling tights or hiking leggings to keep legs toasty warm and don’t forget sunglasses, because snow is extremely white and mixed with sunlight it can easily dazzle kids eyes causing them to crash or fall.
Keep Yourself Safe
If you’re biking solo, or even as a pair it’s essential that you follow health and safety guidelines when biking outdoors. Firstly, make sure that your all cycling in bright colors, wearing correctly fitting helmets flashing lights are attached to both to the front, and back of bikes to alert both pedestrians and road users to your presence. Try to ride downhill as little as possible to avoid any windchill and pack energy boosting snacks, water, spare thermal gloves and portable hand / feet warmers to make sure fingers and toes don’t get stiff mid ride. You may also want to consider checking your insurance as often Cycle accident claims tend to rise during winter.
Why not trade your road bike for a mountain bike? They have more gears, better traction and the bike’s significantly more stable due to wider tyres. Carry a cell phone at all times and inform someone of your family’s proposed cycle route so if, by chance, you run into trouble they can come pick you all up straight away. Avoid any icy, or snowy patches on the road and slow down around bends as there could be black ice lurking that’s invisible to the naked eye.
Learn How To Hydrate
It’s a fairly common misconception that we need to drink more fluids in the summer and, in fact, drinking water in the winter is more important than ever. While riding kids will be feeling warm, which as they’re wearing multiple layers will cause them to sweat profusely. Remind them their bodies will be losing fluid continuously so they need to keep drinking to replace lost liquid and stay hydrated. It’s often harder to tell that we’re thirsty in winter, so a good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re drinking at least eight to ten full glasses of water per day,
but if you’re exercising it needs to be much more. Buy everyone a proper water bottle that can clip on or attach itself to the bike and drink plenty of hot drinks when back home.
Don’t Overdo The Ride
Unlike in the summer where it’s fun, relaxing and pleasant to stop for a break and a spot of sunbathing. In winter, it’s anything but. Once people stop cycling they lose any extra heat rapidly and will quickly feel more than a little chilly. Feeling sick? If anyone’s under the weather, don’t let them head out alone, or better still, skip the ride. It’s important that kids don’t push themselves too hard in cold weather as tired muscles can give out suddenly leaving them minutes, or worse, miles away from home.