What does it take to enjoy winter cycling?
Getting out on your bike when the dark and cold has taken over can be a challenge. Cycling in the winter months is a true tester for dedication. All you need - before curling up with hot chocolate on your sofa - is a positive approach, good cycling equipment and fun!
Winter cycling: All it needs is a positive approach
There are ways of getting the most out of riding your machine in the winter, you just need to be a little more organised and prepared. Take a different approach. Think of the positives instead of the negatives as the dark evenings and a drop in temperature can play a big part in our emotional state. Our brain thinks we are more tired than we actually are.
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I think with the lack of vitamin juice that is fed to us from the sun, a winter alternative is to get your endorphins going by exercising as this will increase your happy mood. The release of these magical endorphins into the brain will combat stress and also minimise that discomfort feeling we can get from exercise. It blocks out pain and can leave us with an euphoric feeling. This chemical cannot take all of the credit for the sudden mood increase, as it is also down to a release of a protein called BDNS (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and this comes into play when we get our heart rate up from exercising and it triggers our brain to think we are in a moment of stress. The release of this chemical has an effect on our memory and acts as a reset switch.
Due to this little gem we are often left feeling at ease with things and our mind is clear resulting in happiness. If your mental attitude is positive before you even get your kit on then you are half way there to get your bum on the saddle and enjoy winter cycling.
Different season, different equipment
As with any outdoor activity in the winter, as long as you have the right kit, feeling comfortable and happy, then the night time is your oyster.
One major piece of kit you will need to purchase is a decent light. There are so many good front lights out there now that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get one fit for the job. Some light enthusiasts tend to spend a bit more so they are positively equipped with a beam that’s so bright, that the wildlife think the sun has come back out. If the roads you regularly ride are fairly remote, then it is worth investing in a light with more Lumens and a wide beam coverage, as this will give you the confidence that you are seen by others. Some are also usually tool free, minimising the hassle of fiddling with bolts in the dark.
Layering up is the key
It is also super important to be kitted out in the correct clothing to protect you from the elements that winter can so rudely throw at you. Especially when you are riding somewhere new, you want to be comfortable if you end up being out for longer than planned. Layering up with wicking breathable clothing is the key for an enjoyable night ride. Gloves, a headband and even over shoes would be perfect accessories to fight the chill.
All of these simple tips can make a huge difference to how you think about the winter months. Investing in good kit can make the ride a better experience, and getting out riding makes us feel happier. Even happier when after being out in those wicked conditions and you come back to a warm drink and a feeling of satisfaction, ready to do it all over again tomorrow.