Winter Cycling Tips: How to make it through the season
Cycling through winter can be tough, even for those who do many miles throughout the year. Here’s our top ten on-bike and off-bike recommendations to make it through the season – hear also from some of our ambassadors how they keep riding.
1. The obvious: Multi-layering is key
Well, this will sound obvious, but we can’t stress it enough: when dressing up for a winter ride, make sure to go for several layers to keep you warm. Multi-layering allows you to store your body heat better and avoid cooling down. Some key layers include a base layer, a thermal jersey, and - depending on temperatures and conditions - a jacket that keeps you extra warm or protects you from wind and humidity. Make also sure that your legs are covered with tights that are wind resistant and water repellent.
2. Hydration still matters
While nutrition is key during any ride, it becomes equally important during winter. Your body will likely burn a few more calories to keep you warm, so you want to make sure you’re fueling up. Some of your favorite bars might become very hard as they start to freeze outside, try to keep them warm in your pockets. Being out in cold temperatures, you might not even recognize that you’re still heating up and sweating, and eventually start to dehydrate. Make sure to stay hydrated.
"When it gets really cold outside it's hard to drink during a ride. Your drink most likely is close to freezing in your plastic bottle and you don't really feel like getting even colder by drinking it. Therefore, I bring an insulated bottle with some hot tea with me. Works wonders after a cold descent." @henricyclinginparadise
3. Gravel versus Road
If you own a Gravel bike next to your Road bike, going for Gravel is certainly a good choice during winter season. Depending on road conditions – which can be wet and slippery – your Gravel bike will give you better grip and safety. It also allows you to leave the beaten path and discover off-road routes without cars passing you in the dark. Another advantage of gravel riding is that you will go at a slower pace, hence the wind won’t feel as cold.
"In winter I burn for two things: cycling and snow sports. I try to find a balance in these months and combine cycling with ski touring. When I am at home in Bern, I ride outside. Mostly in the forest and with the gravel bike. When I am in our holiday apartment in the mountains, I go ski touring. I'm not in a hurry in winter and use the months to work on my basic fitness." @aanaakuu
4. Protect your facial skin
Temperatures can be freezing cold as you ride at speed, and the cold wind in your face can be a challenge for your skin. Make sure to protect your facial skin with a creme. Don’t care too much about beauty and cosmetics – rather go for a rich skin care that has a high share of fats, such as bag balm, which effectively protects your skin from the cold.
5. Gear up for winter
Serious winter cycling will require some additional gear. That includes for example clear/transparent glasses (you likely won’t be facing the sun too often), proper lightening for the front and back of your bike (days are getting gloomy very early), or a fender to protect your butt and back from mud, wet and dirt. If you’re committed to continue riding outside, these items will be worth the investment.
6. Train effectively indoors
Outside is free. But on some winter days, indoor is the road to choose. Riding on the indoor trainer not only provides a safe riding environment on days when road conditions can be difficult. It is particularly helpful if you don’t have a lot of time to spend on the bike, as indoor cycling allows you to achieve a training effect in less time. When riding indoors, wearing a light base layer or indoor shirt is recommended to help your body with sweat absorption.
“During winter, I try to find a good balance of doing indoor intervals and riding outdoors - on really cold and wet days it’s maybe just a short ride – but with the right layering, heated insoles and post-ride hot wine and sauna.” @lulu.on.tour
7. Work on your off-bike fitness
Winter is a perfect time to work on your off-bike fitness. Use the fewer hours spend on the bike to work on your core stability or practice cycling-specific yoga. Your body will certainly benefit from it next summer, as you will be able to put more power onto the pedal.
“During winter I focus on strengthening my body through weighted workouts for the cycling season ahead. It helps to ease or avoid back and neck pains.” @juli.cros
8. Bike cleaning becomes a must
Winter is not just a challenging time for you as a rider – it’s also tough for your bike. Streets are wet, muddy, and dirty - full of all sorts of things you do not want to have sticking onto your bike. Proper bike cleaning and maintenance after every ride becomes key to avoid mechanical issues. At Veloine, we use Dynamic Bike Care to keep our machines in good shape. Read also our blog post, in which we outlined some must-have bike cleaning steps.
9. Watch cycling movies
Cycling documentaries are a great source of inspiration and will keep your motivation high during the dark season. If you haven’t watched it yet, we highly recommend “Three Peaks & In Between”, featuring Veloine rider Jana on her 2.000 km race from Vienna to Nice in 2020.
10. Make plans for next season
Finally, now is the time to start making plans for next season. Whether you are going for a race, a cycling holiday, or a particular mountain pass you would love to conquer - having a goal will help you master the winter season and make winter riding count.
“In winter, I make plans for the summer to keep myself enthusiastic. In addition, good lighting does not excuse me from getting on my bike at least once a week. The warm tiredness that sets in afterwards is addictive.” @jananas.banjana