Bike Blog: some tips for winter cycling

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Welcome to a new feature on the CAT blog – our weekly Wednesday bike blog! We’re going to be sharing thoughts, ideas and inspiration from the wonderful world of two-wheeled travel. If you’ve got something you’d like us to cover, leave us a comment below.

I live in Machynlleth, a three mile commute up to CAT. It’s a stunningly beautiful ride, whether in the early morning sun or the pink-tinged dusky sky. With another winter fast upon us, I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to make sure that, like last year, I can keep commuting to work through the cold. As an expatriated New Zealander, winter cycling is a relatively new phenomenon; last winter I was left of fairly lightly by the mild weather we had in Mid Wales. This time around, I’m bracing myself for something a bit more bitter. Here are some of my ideas for making winter cycling work – leave us a comment below with yours!

riding a bike in winter can be dangerous, so stay within your limits. There’s no point in pushing yourself and feeling unsafe.
put on some mudguards. Not only will they enable you to arrive less water-logged, they’ll also prevent you saturating your chain and derailleur with what ever’s lingering on the roads (mud, petrol), which won’t keep them in good condition.
think about what tyres you’re using, and ask your local bike shop what they’d recommend for winter.
and while it’s an obvious point, it’s important to make sure you’re as well lit as you possibly can be. Make sure you have back-up batteries if yours fail, and if you can, fit extra lights to your bike.
lubricate and clean your chain regularly. Chain lube will get washed way in the wet weather, so your chain is much more at risk getting rusty, and more likely to become clogged with mud and dirt.
keep your bike in check. How do your brakes feel? Do your gears change easily? Any suspicious clunking? Fixing problems as they arise and checking your bike’s functionality before you head out will make your commute considerably safer.
have a back-up plan. If it doesn’t feel right to cycle, don’t – and have other options if you need an alternative way to get around.
wear something visible. Forget style, and choose instead hi-vis jackets, reflective belts, and rainwear in visible colours.