Winter and the wet! I am one of many in a long line of bike commuters. I have been handed the cycling gene on from my great grandfathers and probably grandfathers before them (if bikes been around that long). One story of a great grandfather is that he used to cycle from his home in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, in the bleakest winters, 6ft of snow on the side of the road for 15 miles, to then catch a bus to his work destination. Dedication doesn’t even begin to describe his work ethic (and puts me to shame!)
I have now been fortunate enough to live close enough to my work place that driving doesn’t seem to be worthwhile and cycling is just about a push to give me a workout. Everything was going great with the weather, up until this week! We have had quite a mild lead up to winter with only a few showers, but nothing to dampen my spirits. However, this week has taken a change for the worse. The temperature has dropped, the skies have clouded over and the rain/sleet/hail has been coming down like the end of the world! Puddles are now forming into Lakes at the side of the road and the Spray coming off the back of cars and lorries is becoming similar to just having a hose sprayed in your face for short periods of time!
So, why do I keep coming into work on my bike you’re probably asking yourself right now! To be honest, it is more down to the clothing I wear. By covering yourself up, you actually eliminate the cold and block out the weather. Bad weather is just a mindset as long as you have the correct clothing.
I make sure that my bike shoes are coated with a water Repellent Finish so that the water stays outside of the shoe instead of inside. I wear Waterproof trousers over top of my tracksuit bottoms, which can make it warmer (but I would take this over soaking wet trousers on arrival at work)! A jacket that is long enough to cover your backside is always a bonus to stop the spray from the wheels riding up and soaking your bum. The jacket needs to also be water Repellent and waterproof so that your clothes do not get wet underneath. Jackets are very important to keeping you dry and warm so don’t wear anything too thin. For my accessories I wear a cycling skull cap, which is made from a stretchy Polyester Fabric and has ventilation in the top to cool the head and fits comfortably underneath my helmet. I also wear gloves which have a water resistant coating so that the water beads away from the glove and doesn’t absorb water. This keeps my hands dry and warm. On extra cold days I will wear a liner glove which is made from a wool-polyester combination to help keep the warmth in but also allows the fabric to wick moisture away.
Once kitted up and cycling away, it is actually a more enjoyable way to get to work. I feel far more invigorated during the morning than if I drive. It makes me alert and sharp as cycling makes me constantly think about the environment around me. Once at the office, a quick change of clothing gets me ready to start the working day. The secret to cycling in the winter is about getting the clothing right. Staying dry and warm is very easy these days and there are some great and affordable brands out there that can help you do this. I always carry this mantra with me when on the road:
“There is no such thing as bad weather, Just bad clothing”