Hayling Herald article February 2020

This is the article we submitted for the February 2020 edition of the Hayling Herald. They may of course edit their version, and we format this version for the website with extra photos and links.

  • Enjoy winter riding
  • Cycle paths and quiet roads
  • No such thing as bad weather, just bad kit!

Enjoy winter riding!

It’s easy to think it’s too cold or miserable to ride, but it turns out that you warm up in the first couple of minutes, and winter can make for some great riding and keep you fit.

Here are a few tips to help you feel comfortable and safe, and really enjoy it. And many of them apply all year as well.

Hovering to warm up quickly

A great warm up trick is ‘hovering’ above the saddle to make your thighs work and generate heat quickly.

All cyclists know to avoid skidding, and the risk is a bit more in cold and wet weather.

So even more important to brake and turn very gently, and steer clear of drain-covers because they’re often slippery.

Your back brake is safer on slippery roads. A front wheel skid is nasty, so save your front brake for emergencies.

Ruts and potholes are often filled with water in winter, so you can’t tell what’s below, so best to avoid them altogether if you can.

Watch out for deep puddles!

When you have to pull out into traffic to avoid obstacles, do be careful to signal.

A mirror shows what’s behind you, and you’ll feel more confident and enjoy your ride much more.

Some people mount them on their handlebars or downtube.

I have a brilliant one on my helmet, which means I can steer it just by turning my head. It also means it works the same whichever bike I’m on. But it might not work so well if you wear strong spectacle lenses, as you’ll be looking diagonally across the lens.

Cycle paths and quiet roads

As always, we suggest using cycle paths and quiet roads whenever you can. They aren’t just safer, they’re more pleasant, even if they’re sometimes a bit slower.

How will we persuade councillors to spend money on new cycle paths if we don’t use the ones we do have?

There’s one exception to that – ice or black ice are a cyclists worst enemy – worse than traffic. Roads are salted and gritted, whereas cycle paths rarely are. Find out which roads are salted in our Portsmouth CTC article.

That’s one reason Cycle Hayling wants to see all cycle paths stone-dressed, or Tar and Chip, with fine gravel sticking up from the tarmac, like the Langstone section of the Billy Trail.

Your tyres ride on the top edges of the gravel, a few millimetres above the water and ice, and get better grip.

And in winter, it’s worth slowing down more around obstacles or dog walkers. It makes all the difference to other people as well as you.

And please say ‘thank you’ to people that move over for you, or keep their dogs under control.

Shared paths are not the place to race against your personal best on Strava!

No such thing as bad weather –
just bad kit!

Good waterproof gloves are worth their weight in gold.

Layer up with more, thinner layers. A thinner waterproof outer layer keeps out wind and rain, then you can add or remove layers underneath to adjust insulation according to the weather and how hard you’re riding.

Full length zips let you unzip and ventilate as you warm up. Pulling sleeves up to expose your wrists is a good way to lose excess heat, as your arteries are close to the surface.

Waterproof over-trousers are great for extra wind-proofing and insulation, and keeping your trousers clean. Thigh length zips let you step in and out of them in seconds without removing shoes.

My Berghaus Paclite Gore-Tex over-trousers pack so small you can chuck them in a pocket or bag just in case, and they’re as comfortable as jeans. Big investment, but they last years. (Also cheaper non-Gore-Tex, which get good reviews but I haven’t tried).

And keep your head warm. Buffs are good, and can be used for neck and mouth protection.

Waterproof outer shoes should keep your feet warm and dry and your shoes clean, but I’ve had more success with Otter thick waterproof socks. which I love. If your feet are warm and comfortable, it doesn’t even matter if they’re dry (but mine are)!

I went years of my life rejecting GoreTex, on grounds of cost. But you don’t need to save many car journeys or gym fees to pay for it, and it’s an investment that will pay back for many years.

Enjoy that inner glow of satisfaction when you get home!

Lots more help and advice via our website, at cyclehayling.org. If you have any comments or ideas, please tell us!