Winter commuting is tough. In fact, commuting in general is always tough but commuting in winter takes that special kind of effort and commitment.
Luckily for me, my commute actually isn’t too bad. It’s entirely flat, just over 7 miles, broken up into two parts and consists of free coffee – awesome, right? It’s also mainly on a cycle path too so no cars to deal with! The free coffee is still the best part though.
The first part of my commute is about a mile downhill to the prom which brings me onto the cycle path, from then its 4 miles to the ferry terminal where i catch a 10 minute ferry to take me to Liverpool. The beauty of this is there is never any traffic at all and there is a coffee machine for the commuters which on a cold winter day really is a big deal. The staff around the ferry terminal are really friendly so it’s nice to not be treated like a second class citizen for being a cyclist.
From the terminal it’s about 2.5 miles to the office, this is still off road but on a poor surfaces and a few cobbled section to deal with, i commute on my cross bike so i quite enjoy these!
Just like any other ride getting the bike out the garage is usually the hardest part of the ride in someways but in winter this is just so much preparation you need to do.
Layering up – this is one of them. It’s not like summer were you can probably get away with just a jersey and shorts. Nope, you need plenty of layers. Full length baselayer, full sleeve jersey, bib tights, gloves, skull cap, neck warmer and then deciding what type of jacket to wear. Do you take a waterproof? Windproof? Softshell? Hardshell? Wouldn’t it be great if they had a one jacket for all weather? It’s best plan ahead with this and look at what is forecasted to have an idea of what type of jacket you’ll need. It’s always worth packing another type of jacket too for the unpredictable change of weather in the UK.
Lights – This is another thing you have to consider. Are your lights charged enough to see you through your ride? Do you have the right type of lights for your ride? Are you riding in unlit roads with ‘be seen’ lights rather than ones which will help you see your path. Usually better lights come with tool mounted brackets rather than the silicon bands one so swapping these over can be time costly.
Mudguards – These are a must for winter commuting. They may not look the best and they can cause all sort of problems with rubbing plus some can be a nightmare to fit right but they are essential. They keep your kit clean by preventing the muck your tyres throw up and also keep it dry from the spray from the tyre.
Cleaning – Commuting in the winter is going to be harsh on your bike, that’s why it may be worth investing in a specific winter commuting bike. Something a little cheaper so you may not be to concerned about its well being and also replacement parts should likely be cheaper.
When commuting in the winter your bike will pick up more dirt so you do need to clean it as often as possible. Things like grime will build up in your brake pads so be wary for that but also the main thing is the road salts which finds a way onto the drive-train (chain, cassette and gears), this is corrosive and it will start to wear these parts. Of course you won’t be able to clean your bike when you get to work but try and make sure you can give it a quick clean when you get home even if it is the last thing you want to do. Something as simple as hosing down the chain, drying it and then re-lubing will be sufficient enough to keep it going but then try and give it one thorough clean over the weekend.
Commuting is a great way to get miles in over the winter so i would recommend it. You can make what you want of it, a high intensity training ride or do some hill reps or even just a nice gentle ride to stretch the legs and keep the fitness ticking over. No miles are waste miles!