Challenge winter: cycle to work

Posted by admin on 16th November 2016

So it’s a bit cold. And that bit darker. Snow, slush and wind, all a real possibility. 

But what cyclist doesn’t love a challenge?

After all, if you can conquer Scotland’s hills and winding roads and arrive home feeling amazing, then what’s a little wind and rain?

Far from tucking the bike away in the shed for winter, now’s a great time to enjoy a really invigorating cycle to work.

So keep moving on

You already know how choosing active travel and cycling to work helps you arrive buzzing for the day ahead.

But it’s more than a feeling.

Health experts say getting upwards of 20 minutes of outdoor exercise a day provides that vital blast of sunlight that helps keep our mind and body healthy - even when it’s cloudy.

Besides, easing up on the cycling in winter undoes the great work you’ve put in to get fit. So it’ll take longer to get back up to speed when the nicer weather arrives.

Don’t let the thought of the weather put you off winter cycling. It’s rarely as severe as we might think. Ready to beat the elements?

Here’s how to make your winter cycling warmer, safer and winter ready.

Get ready to roll

You wouldn’t hit the beach in a winter coat and scarf. Nor will your summer cycling kit get you through the harsher, darker winter months.

Dress for cycling success so you arrive at work warm, dry and ready for anything. Check cycle shops or online sellers for good quality second hand items.

  • Lots of layers trap air and keep you warm. Wear a base layer, medium weight middle layer and brightly coloured waterproof jacket with lots of reflective flashes.
  • Thermal gloves under your waterproof or windproof gloves keep fingers cosy.
  • A headband or skull cap under your helmet and a neck buff – a circular piece of fabric with no loose ends to fly away – will keep heat in. There are even brightly coloured waterproof helmet covers to stop the wind whipping through the gaps.
  • Get into a routine of drying your clothes as soon as you get home.
  • Check the forecast. Lay your dry kit out at night, so it’s ready as soon as you jump out of bed.

If  you want to treat yourself or the cyclist in your family to something, here are a few suggestions from Trespass who supported our Emissions Impossible campaign earlier this year.

Now ‘winterproof’ those wheels

There’s no reason not to keep your active travel cycling habit going through winter. It’s just a case of being prepared.

A set of mudguards can prevent splashes and keep you that bit drier.

Good lights are essential. Front and back are a must. How many is up to you.

If your route takes you through a poorly lit area, buy extra powerful lights so you can see obstacles – like potholes – on the road.

Check and clean your brakes, tyres, chain and cables regularly – grit can easily build up. A winter service is a good idea.

Enjoy the challenge, download apps to track your time and calories used up and use online maps to find new routes.

Don’t forget your tyre repair kit. The day you leave it at home, will be the one you need it!

DO: Download Greener Scotland’s Journeys app to find how you’re helping prevent harmful emissions.

DON’T: Be put off by the weather. Beating the elements is part of the fun of getting on the bike in the first place!

Add fuel to your journey

You need fuel for your journey, just not the petrol station kind.

Warm up with a good breakfast like porridge or eggs. Top up at lunchtime with chunky home-made soups from a flask.

Arrive home to delicious seasonal stews and casseroles, hot puddings and lush hot chocolate in a mug. Check these tips from top chef Mark Greenaway and discover the best the season has to offer.

There are lots of great ideas here to warm you from the inside out.

By sticking to the active travel changes we’ve already made, we can all do our bit towards ensuring Scotland in the future is a great place to live and work.

So keep on the right road this winter.

Cycle smart, and beat the elements for good.

If walking is more your thing, we have that covered too.