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Surviving to winter cycling

Can you feel the cold?? The sunny warm days are definitely gone and the dark cold winter days are about to start but I believe that won´t stop you from going out and enjoy a good time with your bicycle. Right? Right??? The real question is, are you really prepared?

Bad weather should be seen as a reason to get on your bike – negotiating your way through rain and mud will help you learn new skills, improve your balance and push your riding to a new level. With modern clothing, equipment and some forethought, you can ride happily all through the winter and you’ll emerge next spring a fitter and stronger rider. So consider these three key points before you go out on winter:

1. Motivation: One of the hardest aspects of winter training is getting out the door onto the bike. Even the slightest distraction or reason not to ride.

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter. According to the SAD Association, seven percent of the population suffer from the full condition. The condition, caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain, can rob you of energy, motivation and enthusiasm. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to combat it, but often the motivation to exercise is low, creating a vicious circle.

There are measures you can use to prevent this though. The cause is often a lack of light so sleep with the curtains open, buy a dawn simulating alarm clock and try to exercise during daylight hours.

2. Equipment: Invest in some good-quality winter clothing, because getting cold, wet and uncomfortable on the bike is a good enough reason to leave it in the shed and go swimming. With the proper kit you’ll be prepared for nearly all that the winter can throw at you.

3. Safety: While winter days are much darker you can’t have enough lights, particularly when riding in urban areas, but they need to be in the right places. Make sure your lights are fitted securely and are positioned where drivers will definitely see them. Where you ride on the road is also vital. Take up the primary position and command your space in the road. This has the benefit of allowing you some space if that driver behind hasn’t seen you and tries to squeeze by. And don’t assume you’ve been seen by cars signalling to pull out!

As with driving a car, it’ll take you longer to stop when braking in the wet because of a build-up of water on the rims between the brake blocks and the braking surface. Make sure you take this into account. Also, road markings tend to be slippery when wet, as do drain and manhole covers, so remember to take extra care when riding across them, especially when turning.

Everyone’s vision tends to be reduced in winter, especially in the busiest, darkest commuter times of first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon. As a cyclist you need to become very good at anticipating other road users’ behaviour.

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