7 Fundamentals for the Survival of Cycling in Winter

7 Fundamentals for the Survival of Cycling in Winter

Dreading the thought of getting on your bike throughout the winter months? Us too – but just because it’s cold and miserable it shouldn’t cause us to abandon our love for cycling. To counteract this trepidation, we’ve come up with 7 tips to gear ourselves up and get out on our bikes, ready to take on the cold weather and brave cycling in winter.

Coffee and Cake

Start Off Warm and Energised

Give yourself an advantage by getting on your bike already warm and energised. Your extremities can get cold very quickly when riding against the wind which means that, if you start your ride already cold, you’re setting yourself up for an unpleasant and miserable journey. Before you get on your bike make sure the environment that you’re in is warm and toasty. If you can, have a hot drink to really warm yourself up.

As your body works hard to fight the chill, your energy levels will be more limited than usual. Ensure that you have a high energy snack before cycling in winter such as an energy bar or a gel packet. This will give you the boost that you need to triumph over the elements.

Close up of Map

Be Prepared

Riding in the winter is challenging so you’ll want to make sure that you’re planning your routes instead of just jumping on your bike and seeing where it takes you. There’ll naturally be more obstacles when cycling in winter such as debris, wet/cold weather, early sunsets, and limited energy, so before braving the cold set out a route that will be short and within easy reach.

Circuits near to where you live are ideal as you can ride them several times and get in a real workout or you can end it quickly and get home if needed. Don’t risk sustaining an injury far from home in the cold, especially when it’s dark for most of the day during winter.

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Wear the Right Clothing

Dressing properly for the weather is vital when it comes to cycling in winter. Cold wind will hit you hard once you pick up speed so you’ll need to take steps to battle against it. Ensure that your extremities are well covered; wind proof gloves, thermal socks, and a hat or balaclavas are must-haves on the road. A good pair of wind proof gloves is especially important as your hands will bear the brunt of a lot of the initial wind impact.

Avoid thick coats and fleecy materials that will have you sweating as you ride and opt for cycle-specific clothing. Layers are key here; go for a base layer that wicks away moisture, a thermal mid layer to keep warmth in, and an outer layer such as a soft-shell or waterproof jacket. Full length thermal bib tights are also an essential for cycling in winter. Don’t overdress though as you’ll quickly warm up on your bike and you don’t want to overheat.

Close up of Bike light with water droplets

Make Sure You and Your Bike Are Equipped

If you haven’t got a dedicated winter bike, you’ll want to make sure that your bike has all of the essential accessories to make cycling in winter easier and safer. We’ve listed some of these winter essentials below:

  • Bike light – As it’s getting darker earlier, a light is a must to ensure that you are visible to others and they can see you.
  • High visibility clothing – Keep yourself visible to cars and others motors with some form of high visibility clothing. Whether it’s an armband, vest or jacket, it’s important to wear the right reflective apparel to stay safe on dark roads.
  • Mudguards – Mudguards will reduce mud spray to keep you, your bike, and any fellow riders protected.
  • Wide tyres – With more debris on the roads, your risk of a puncture increases. Consider switching your tyres to wide tyres with a deep tread that can handle unpredictable surfaces.
  • Things to carry with you – puncture repair kit, water, a high energy snack, and a method of communication, e.g. a mobile phone.

If you don’t want the winter weather to spoil your summer bike and you’re looking to invest in a winter bike, take a look at our selection of manual push bikes and electric bikes. Our hybrid bikes and mountain bikes are better suited to handling a winter climate thanks to their deep tyre tread and robust components.

Person stretching legs on a bridge

Remember to Stretch

When the weather’s cold, your muscles will tighten, meaning that stretching is paramount before venturing out on your bike. If you don’t stretch properly you’ll put yourself at high risk of muscle injury. You’ll need to approach stretching in cold weather very differently to your usual stretches in spring and summer.

As your muscles are already tight, going straight into a stretch can pull or strain a muscle that’s cold. Before starting your stretching routine, do a light walk, jog or shuffle to warm up and loosen your muscles.

In winter, opt for dynamic stretches instead of static stretching to get your blood flowing. This means instead of stretching out a muscle and holding it for a few seconds, do gentle repetitive motions, such as arm circles or leg kicks.

Close up of bike chain

Take Care of Your Bike

If you’ve ridden in winter before, you know that the state of your bike afterwards can be quite a task to tackle. If this is your first time cycling in winter, you’ll find out pretty soon how taxing the clean up process can be. With wetter ground, snow, frost, and debris, your bike isn’t going to be at its prettiest after even just an hour’s ride.

Depending on how often you ride, it’s preferable that you clean and clear any grit and grime from your bike after every journey or, at the very least, once or twice a week. You’ll want to check all the components thoroughly to ensure that there isn’t any build up that’ll affect future rides or cause rusting. Give extra focus to your chain, gears, brakes, and wheel rims – you’ll also need to lube your chain and gears more frequently.

Bike laying in middle of road in frosty weather

Don’t Give Up

Motivation can easily slip away during the dark and cold months, which means that you’ve got to work hard to keep your enthusiasm going. Feeling the bitter cold wind and seeing your breath in the cold air is always disheartening and winter tiredness can easily creep in. There’s nothing stronger than the temptation to stay inside under a warm blanket in a heated room. We’ve been discussing the ways in which we stay motivated when it’s cold and here are the ones we swear by:

  • Keep your curtains/blinds open so that you wake up to natural light
  • Set a timer so that the heating comes on half an hour before you’re due to get out of bed – no more excuses staying under the duvet!
  • Go straight from bed to shower to feel rejuvenated in minutes
  • Do a light warm up indoors – getting your heart rate up and blood pumping will motivate you to get out and do a proper workout

Most importantly, remember cycling in winter isn’t a punishment – it’s a challenge that offers great reward.

If you’d like to speak with someone about investing in a Pro Rider Leisure bike for winter but you’re not sure which one’s best for you, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable service team either via phone or email.

Cycling for Mental Health: 5 Life-Enhancing Benefits of an Electric Bike

Cycling for Mental Health: 5 Life-Enhancing Benefits of an Electric Bike

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”

– Albert Einstein

Worrying, stressing, and feeling low can be exhausting. When you’re not feeling at your best or your mental health is struggling, even getting out of bed can be daunting. Your mental wellbeing and physical health are very closely linked so if one is suffering, it’s very common for the other to be impacted as well.

Your mental and physical health can be interdependent; therefore, it’s important that you keep active to attain positive mental wellbeing. Whether you need to build up your energy again after a bout of low mood, need to manage your mental wellness due to disorders such as S.A.D and bipolar or just want to ensure that you maintain positive mental health, exercising will be a huge contributor in supporting this goal.

There have been an abundance of studies on the effect exercising has on mental health and we already know that it:

  • Releases endorphins which elevate your mood
  • Reduces stress
  • Aids in better sleep
  • Raises self esteem
  • Increases energy levels

But what stands out about cycling in particular? Whilst all forms of exercise can have a positive impact on mental health, there are extra benefits to consider with cycling.

Sprouted plant in plant pot

Build up your energy again

If you haven’t exercised in a while and you’re at the beginning of your journey of achieving a healthy and positive mentality, don’t feel as if you need to jump straight into it feet first. Take things at your own pace; building your fitness will go alongside building up your psychological wellbeing and confidence. Cycling is a great way to get back into it – you can go at your own speed, have time to reflect, and also explore nature as you ride.

We know that it can be hard to get up and find the energy to exercise. There are a lot of anxieties, a lot of “what ifs”, especially if poor mental health has limited your fitness for a period of time. If you’re worried about your fitness or feel that you need a little boost, an electric bike can give you that little push when you need it. What’s more, you won’t need to worry about cycling too far to then realise that you don’t have the energy levels to get back home.

Silhouette of girl taking photo and bike

Reconnect with yourself and rediscover your passions

We spend a lot of our life indoors, in artificially lit rooms, in front of artificially lit screens. We’re biologically designed to live active lifestyles outdoors, so it’s no surprise that the sedentary habits of a typical lifestyle in Western society can have a detrimental consequence on our mental health. We already know the benefits of exercising on your mental health, therefore, why not combine this with the positive link between nature and wellbeing?

Exercising in a gym can’t compare with the sights, smells, and feelings that you’ll have when out cycling. Cycling amongst nature’s surroundings gives you a chance to enjoy fresh air, give yourself some headspace, and experience beautiful new places. An electric bike can support you in cycling to parts of the countryside that you might not have previously had the fitness to reach, meaning that you can discover new, remote parts of the country that you can enjoy all to yourself.

Mindfulness is very important when it comes to championing a positive mental health and cycling is a great method of practising mindfulness. Take some time out during your route to indulge in something that you enjoy and rediscover yourself, whether this is reading, writing, painting, meditating, photography or any other passion you may have.

Silhouette of two cyclists against sunset sky

Connect with others

It can be very isolating when you’re struggling with your mental health. Keeping social and spending time around other people can have a huge benefit on your wellbeing, helping to decrease the risk of depression. Looking after your wellbeing includes nurturing your relationship with others and connecting with people.

Whilst it’s important that you talk about what’s bothering you, sometimes, when you’re feeling down, you don’t always want to sit down and talk. Cycling is a great solution to this barrier, giving you the opportunity to be around others whilst eliminating the need for long, in-depth conversation. Similarly, if you’re anxious about not having a common ground for conversation, enjoying a ride in beautiful scenery with someone offers an easy way to connect with them. You may feel even more confident to discuss your feelings after reflecting on your thoughts during your ride.

Two adults and child holding piggy bank

Reduce financial strain

Financial worries can have a huge impact on mental health; not just through the stress and worry induced but also the knock on effect from feeling trapped at home. For those who don’t have a car or don’t have the financial freedom to get buses and taxis, getting to and from work, appointments or social gatherings can prove difficult. Cycling gives you the chance to socialise without spending any money and also allows you to get around without having to worry about lack of funds. You can discover further benefits of using an electric bike for your daily commute in our recent blog post.

In the long run, cycling can help to relieve some financial strain as electric bikes are cheaper to run than cars. Buying an electric bike will either be one lump sum payment or you can look at spreading out the cost with 0% finance. There are a few future costs that you’ll need to consider with an electric bike, including the electricity needed to charge the battery (this is minimal at around 10p per charge), servicing, and any future repairs or battery replacements.

Alleviating financial strain will have a positive impact on your mental health as you’ll have less stress and more independence. Having a bike gives you the freedom to spend time with others or get out of the house without reaching for your wallet each time.

Man on bike in mountains

Create new goals and discover your strength

An important element of positive mental wellbeing is regularly setting goals and working towards them. Boosting confidence, raising self esteem, and improving emotional health all give you a sense of achievement that is unparalleled. When setting goals, make them specific and achievable; this will give you a higher sense of accomplishment and won’t feel so overwhelming. Cycling presents an opportunity to set definitive goals that can be gradually increased. You can start off small and keep setting new, larger goals until little wins snowball into big wins.

If you feel like you’re ready for a long difficult ride, go with your instinct – just don’t overexert yourself. Don’t, however, feel like you have to start off big; even a small bit of exercise can make a massive difference and that first cycle can feel just as much of an achievement as a four day cycle trail. Remember to take pride in your personal achievements, no matter how small they may seem to others.

Map out a journey and gradually increase the length of your ride. Once you’ve doubled the length of your original journey, take a look back at the original route and compare how you feel now to the first time that you cycled that route. Each time you do this, you’ll realise how strong you are and eventually your self-belief will far outweigh your self-doubt.

Girl looking across town with sunset

Start your journey

If you’re not quite ready to get out on a bike just yet, here are some other starting points:

  • Yoga – Have a look at yoga clubs nearby or if you’re not ready for that, there are lots of yoga videos on Youtube so you can do this in the privacy and comfort of your own home or garden
  • Walking – even a short walk can make a huge difference, so try build this up to be longer and longer each time
  • Couch to 5K – a running plan set up for beginners by the NHS, this 9 week programme will gradually build up your fitness and stamina.

If you feel ready to begin your journey towards achieving mental wellbeing and start cycling for mental health then why not take a look at our electric bike range. If you’re not sure which bike would be best for what you need, take a read of our handy blog post on ‘Which Electric Bike is Best’. Alternatively, get in touch with our dedicated and knowledgeable Pro Rider Leisure team who will be more than happy to help.

Should I Use an Electric Bike to Commute? The Benefits of E Bike Commuting

Should I Use an Electric Bike to Commute? The Benefits of E Bike Commuting

Times are changing in the world of commuting. As pollution increases and getting to work becomes more frustrating and expensive, the need for a cheaper, cleaner, and more sustainable travel solution gets more important every day – and a strong contender for this is the electric bike. Continue reading “Should I Use an Electric Bike to Commute? The Benefits of E Bike Commuting”

Which Electric Bike is Best: A Useful Guide

Which Electric Bike is Best: A Useful Guide

eBikes Explained

Electric bikes – also known as ebikes – have an electric motor and battery which assist the rider as they pedal. Other than this they are, in many ways, exactly the same as a normal bike. Having motor assistance gives those would struggle to use a push bike – for example, those recovering from injury, suffering with joint problems or asthma – the opportunity to get back out on the road.  Continue reading “Which Electric Bike is Best: A Useful Guide”

Cycling on Your Commute Could Extend Your Life

Cycling on Your Commute Could Extend Your Life

A recent study that looked at 150,000 British adults between the ages of 40 and 69, and compared the health between cyclists with motorists, suggests that swapping your car for a cycle during your daily commute to work can bring considerable health benefits.

Continue reading “Cycling on Your Commute Could Extend Your Life”

You’re Always an Easy Rider on an Electric Bike

You’re Always an Easy Rider on an Electric Bike

The boom in cycling in the UK shows no sign of slowing down. Thanks to British cyclists winning famous road races such as the Tour de France and triumphs at the Olympics in recent years, thousands of people up and down the country have been taking to the roads on two wheels – maybe even investing in some Lycra along the way!

Continue reading “You’re Always an Easy Rider on an Electric Bike”