Winter riding can be a very pleasant way to keep some fitness, even gain some, over the shorter cooler days from November to February.
The ” Mudguard Rule” dictates that in GMT (ie between the clocks going back at the end of October until they go forward in March), all participants in ALL KVG/KVB rides must have REAR mudguards fitted. Mud guards must look like this this or this
Clip-on mudguards like these do not give adequate cover, and so are not suitable.
Why do we have the mudguard rule?? Mudguards keep your bottom dry on wet roads and keep the face of the rider behind you cleaner and drier too. There are few things more unpleasant than riding behind someone on a farm lane and getting a face full of cow poo. You can get mudguards from any of the local bike shops or from online retailers. Some of the local bike shops may charge to fit your mudguards for you – they are quite fiddly, so money well spent!! Please please do NOT turn up for a ride after the clocks change in October without mudguards in situ on your bike. You will be asked not to ride. This is very embarrassing for the ride leaders to do, please do not put them in this awkward position. There are no exceptions, ever. Please do not turn up to a ride with your new mudguards in a packet on the seat beside you. There is not time to fit mudguards before a ride. If you cannot fit your mudguards, ask the LBS (local bike shop) to do it. Do not delay, order/buy your mudguards today, ready . Do not be deterred from riding all winter for the sake of £20 worth of mudguards. The mudguards pictured at the top of this section all fit on ALL road bikes with clips, bands and do not need eyelets. If your bike has eyelets you will need different mudguards. These fit much more securely and are generally have more substantial coverage. Check if your bike has them, and use them if you do!
How to WINTERISE your bike
If you have not had a recent service, and things are not running smoothly, this may be a good opportunity to get things checked over. Things that need replacing fairly frequently are… brake blocks (can you see the wear markings on yours?) If the lines on the braking surface have gone, you need new ones. Wet, gritty rides wear brake blocks very quickly. chain – chains need replacing approximately every 1000 miles, get someone to check yours is not too worn, if you are light, you may wear yours less quickly than those of us who are a bit heavier…. if you do not replace a worn chain in good time, you will also have to replace the cassette. The cassette will need replacing approx every 2/3 chains. If you do not replace the cassette, a new chain will jump on it. If you keep your chain meticulously clean it will last much longer… Tyres. the tyres that come on new bikes are usually pretty thin and are fine for summer riding. In winter, it is sensible to put on some heavier duty tyres with some resistance to punctures…rain and bad weather mean that there is a lot more debris on the roads, and this causes punctures. Once you have stood on the side of the road for 20 mins in the rain, with numb fingers, shivering changing a puncture, you will definitely want to change to puncture resistant tyres. We recommend Continental 4 seasons or gatorskins. Many people now use tubeless tyres, which are filled with goo, that automatically repairs small punctures. There are other winter tyres from other manufacturers, but we have generally had success with these. Look for puncture resistance and kevlar linings, expect to pay around £30 each – shop around (Google shopping will help) and see who has them on special offer. The trend now, is towards wider 25-28c width tyres, all year, this is to get more “rolling resistance”. This means that there is a greater level of contact with the tyre and the road, which can help grip in the wet, and makes for a more comfortable ride. Also, in winter we recommend pumping your tyres up to 90-95 psi (in summer it should be 100-110psi), this will also increase the rolling resistance and help with increasing that grip on the road. The mudguards, the winter tyres, and for some people a winter bike (it was their original bike and they now have a better bike for faster, lighter summer riding) make for slightly slower, more measured riding, this is excellent for building strength endurance during the winter months. The upside of this is that removing the mudguards and changing to lighter tyres in March/April makes you faster and slicker overnight! Lube using wet lube during the winter ( as opposed to summer dry lube) will keep your chain and cassette squeak free when conditions are wet.
After dirty wet rides, you are well advised to clean your bike down asap, to prevent the mud drying and sticking, and re-lubing the chain as soon as it is dry to prevent rusting. You will probably need to do a full degrease and clean down every few rides in the winter.
A Rear Light
In winter it is sensible to have a rear light (red), this increases your visibility from behind on grey days, it helps you to be seen. Anything from a cheapy Knog light (about a fiver) to a £35 exposure one is just perfect.
Keeping warm and dry in winter
They (not sure who “they” are but I do agree) say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Kit yourself out with decent winter kit and you will be able to ride in relative comfort whatever the weather. Essential. Winter longs. look for something fleecy (Roubaix fabric is warm fleecy fabric, whatever the brand of gear) with a padded insert if you dont want to have to wear shorts underneath. Some of the tights have bibs (like dungaree straps) these help keep your back and kidneys warm but make having a wee a challenge! You make your choices! Full finger gloves. go for something padded and waterproof and windproof. Altura and Gore make some good cycling specific winter gloves, think about avoiding lined gloves as people often have trouble with the linings getting twisted or coming out. Waterproof, windproof jacket. It is really worth investing here, whilst in a total downpour, nothing will keep you totally dry, a good breathable jacket will keep you cool and as dry as reasonably possible. Please avoid black/grey if you want to be seen on the road on a gloomy day. Ask on the Facebook for recommendations from other members. Overshoes- these are the covers for cleated shoes that keep your feet warm and dry (you need to get onto cleated pedals to use them though!). Trainers are very cold in winter…they have ventilated tops and your feet get really cold…go for zips rather than velcro fastenings as the velcro loses it’s stick quite quickly. Best combo is a zip with a small velcro fastening at the top. Layers- use your running layers as baselayers, merino is good but not essential, lots of thin layers is best. Avoid cotton at all costs, if it gets wet (rain or sweat) it will flap against you and make you cold….
Mostly, get your bike sorted, get your gear sorted, and keep up some frequency and consistency through the shorter days, to emerge in the spring, fitter and ready for a new year of cycling fun and challenges.