Riding in Winter can be tough, with typically British weather getting much colder. Sometimes turning the turbo is best, as we discussed in our recent blog. But, riding outside is good for the soul. So, we caught up with Will Brown of Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling to find out what he does to keep it fresh.
Winter, some people hide inside, some people are warriors, I’m going to class myself as a “winter embracer”, not a lover. So, a half-baked winter warrior maybe? I thought I’d enlighten you all with the tips, tricks and strategies I’ve developed over the winters spent bimbling in the North Yorkshire Moors.
Keep it simple. If you can’t fix it with a pump, multi tool or bailer twine found in the ditch, then it's far too complex for a winter! To this end, I’ll always run a mechanical groupset, especially after watching Rich Jones (fellow teammate) complete Blakey Ridge wedged in the 12 sprocket... thanks to a particular brand of electric groupset.
Absolutely always run full mudguards, have a lovely dry non gritty chamois, dry shins/shoes and a much cleaner bike. It's beyond me why you wouldn’t? Even a lorry load of Veloskin chamois cream can’t make a gritty chamois comfy! After that it's fairly simple, run some heavy duty tyres, put some lights on, if it’s going to make your life better when you're 4hours deep and it's nearly freezing, then do it!
Now I consider myself quite lucky in this department, as the excitement of the coming season and the love for riding my bike(s) sees me through. However, if you do maybe struggle, then let me ask you this... have you ever seen a Snow Leopard run across the road on boxing day? Me neither. But there’s a lot more chance of seeing it if you’re out, rather than sat on the turbo! Now if it's icy/snowy or dangerous or any other reason, I will use the turbo. I might even do a Zwift race (don’t if you’re feeling fragile), but for me, being outside and going on a bit of an adventure is what cycling is all about! Plus, skin’s waterproof, we’re not made out of sugar etc. etc...
All the other bits.
This is something I’ve learnt the hard way. Absolutely buy the best quality winter kit you can afford, do your research, buy wisely and save yourself a fortune on chilblain cream (not something Veloskin should need to do). Start with a really good pair of gloves and overshoes, closely followed by merino socks and a good base layer, it’s what is next to your skin that matters. After that, a nice snug pair of tights, but then we hit a crossroads. You can spend of fortune on a winter jacket that covers all bases, or you can layer up different thinner garments to make one cosy cocoon, I do both depending on the conditions and I can’t decide which is best. You absolutely do need a good rain cape in the back pocket though, you’ll thank me when you’re making your snow survival cave after not getting home before dark, or it starts raining at some point during the ride; it's good for both either way!
Now back to that mention of skin, hopefully you’ve already read my chamois cream conundrum blog, so you know I’ll be using Veloskin chamois cream in large quantities. But, I'll also be delving into the moisturiser and soothing gel pile.
Moisturiser - apparently a cold windy day in the moors can dry your face and any other uncovered skin out faster than a day in the Sahara Dessert (don’t quote me on this I’m a cyclist, not a dermatologist...but it's a fact*). To that end, I'll use the moisturiser pre ride, post ride and bedtime on my face and hands, I know... I can’t quite believe I’m doing it either!
Soothing gel – it’s maybe not exactly what it's first intention was, but I’ve found it a fantastic recovery aid, nothing quite soothes aching and sore muscles like it, it's also great on sunburn, but we don’t need to worry about that right now! Hopefully soon though...
That’s all from me! I’ll wish you a safe and comfy winter and fingers crossed for actual bike racing next year.
Yours in only mild hypothermia,