Six signs winter is coming and what you can do about it
It gets dark earlier
Commuters in particular will notice this sad eventuality. Physical laws of the solar system dictate that during winter, we get to spend a cruel few hours in daylight and the dark nights invade the working day. This means that any ride starting and/or finishing after about 3pm must be accessorised in order for the rider to stay safe and confident on the road. A decent light set is a vital addition to any cyclist's locker, not only making sure you'll be visible to other road users, but also lighting the route ahead.
The temperature is dropping
Another fact of winter is its sometimes unpleasantly-low temperatures. There is a special class of cyclist which willingly rides through the pain of numb hands and feet, a constantly running nose and watery eyes. These are all facts of life for a winter commuter, but you can make your life far more comfortable by investing in some high quality thermal kit to soften the season's blow; apparel like leg warmers, arm warmers and cycling gloves.
It is wet and windy
Cold temperatures are a given, as are inclement conditions such as rain, fog, wind and even snow. There are many who would turn their noses up at riding in any kind of precipitation, but it doesn't have to be a miserable experience. Simply wrapping yourself in a comfortable wind- and/or waterproof jacket will vastly improve any winter ride.
There's all sorts of muck on the roads
This is often the result of a few natural occurrences with sometimes catastrophic consequences (for your bike and your wallet). Firstly, it is the time of year when we expect a greater volume of rain, which not only forms puddles on the road, but can also skim mud and gravel off the verge and into the path of cyclists. Secondly, the sun's strength has diminished to a level too low to evaporate any liquid from the road. Little can damage a group dynamic more than going out for a ride and covering your mates with dirty water and mud, so do yourself - and them - a favour and invest in some mudguards, or a simple ass saver.
My bike is making noises
The seasonal road muck described above can also wreak havoc on the mechanics of your bike. Pair the mud and grit with the wear and tear from a summer of heavy riding, and you might have a grumpy machine on your hands. This is exactly the time of year when we might expect to hear creaking gears, squeaking brakes or see balding tyres. Look after your bike and your sanity by replacing components like brake pads and chain before it's too late. Also consider some more resilient tyres like the famous Continental Gatorskins to puncture-proof your winter.
I'm really tired!
We're only human. It's only natural that we reach the end of the summer having achieved all (or at least some) of the season's targets only to collapse in a heap. Fatigue and a lack of motivation are completely normal conditions to hit cyclists at this time of year, but there are a few ways you can rediscover your mojo. You might consider trying some new ride treats to mix things up a little, like the devilishly good Snickers Protein bar, and don't forget to maximise your recovery with reliable products. Finally, if you feel you need a more significant change to re-light that spark, maybe you should give another discipline like cyclocross a go?
As we've demonstrated, winter is a reality which does not have to be dreaded. With the right preparation, you can make yourself and your bike ready for anything during winter proper. And in the meantime, enjoy the last few weeks before the clocks fall back and get ready for an epic winter!
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