Let’s face it. We live in Ireland. If we are to wait for fine weather before we venture outdoors, we’d never do anything! If you’re keen to stay on your bicycle this winter, here are a few tips to keep you comfortable, safe, and having fun as the cold, wet weather arrives writes Ruth O’Connor
I’m a firm believer in the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”. Nothing takes the joy out of riding your bike like being saturated and freezing cold. Making sure you’re dressed for the weather is vital in winter months. A warm, waterproof and windproof jacket is, for me, the most important piece of clothing to invest in. I picked up a DHB Flashlight Full Beam jacket last year and as well as ticking all of the boxes when it comes to weatherproofing, the whole jacket is also reflective – ideal for the dark, evening commute.
If you’re commuting to work, a pair of waterproofs can do the job in keeping you dry. Just make sure to factor in that these can make you sweat more, so you might be better to wear cycling-specific clothes if you’ve a long commute and then changing on arrival. A pair of over-shoes are also invaluable on those days when it’s really bucketing down.
My final must-have is a pair of warm, waterproof gloves. A must have as the temperatures drop!
It’s against the law in Ireland to cycle without working lights during light-up hours. This means having a white front light, a red rear light and a red rear reflector. I always make sure my lights are working before I leave home and I prefer to have an extra light at front and back just in case.
You can spend a couple of euros or you can splash the cash when it comes to lights. A pack of decent Cateye lights have served me well for the past few years and didn’t break the bank.
I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have a mudguard, get one. If it’s not raining in Ireland, chances are it was in the not so distant past. This means wet roads and puddles spraying filthy water all over your back-side, your water bottle and anything else you’re carrying. On a tight budget, something like the minimalist Ass-Saver will do the trick. I’ve had the SKS Commuters on my bike for years now and they really do the trick. They have added mud-flaps on the end which give extra protection from the road.
Looking after your bike during the harsher months is crucial in preventing mechanicals. Try to get into the habit of regularly cleaning out grime from the gears, chain, hubs and any other moving parts. A clean bike is a happy bike!
It’s also worth noting that conditions on the road in wintertime can increase the risk of punctures. Don’t forget to pack a puncture repair kit and a spare tube when you’re heading out. Take note if the roads have been salted and make sure to wash down your bike when you get home if so. The salt in the water increases the risk of rust and can wear down your chain and gears.
Being prepared for the unexpected is key in winter months. When it comes to planning your cycle, prepare as much as possible for changing weather. There’s nothing worse than seeing the black clouds roll in when you haven’t a stitch of waterproofs on. Being out on the bike in dodgy weather can also mean having to be a little bit more vigilant of potential hazards (eg. slippery road markings, gusty winds).
Plan for Sunshine!
If you love heading off on a Sunday spin or venturing out with the kids for a few hours on two wheels, it can be a bit demoralising if your fun is consistently dampened by dreary weather. While I definitely encourage you to don your waterproof best and head out regardless, for some, this just is not a fun time. If that’s you, then I highly recommend you do one of my other favourite things to do – plan for sunshine!
Ireland has some amazing destinations for cyclists of all levels – whether it’s greenways, mountain trails, country spins or urban loops, we have it. Planning a cycling holiday, either at home or abroad, is part of the fun and can occupy those rainy evenings when you aren’t quite up for spin in the wind and rain!