Sliding around in the mud can make winter one of the best times of the year to ride! Getting out and embracing the Baltic conditions is just a hump to overcome before the fun ensues. We’ve got five quick things that help us get on and stay on the trails in winter, they’re not that expensive, won’t be that hard to find and should take the sharp edge off winter…
Before we get started, I’m not about to tell you to go out and buy a gravel bike, you’ve probably heard that one before. Whilst getting a skinny wheeler ready to put some winter miles in is a great idea, it also comes with a bit of a hefty price tag and after Christmas, that’s one that is probably best avoided. Read on for five varied and simple things that you can do or buy now to see out the end of the winter a little more comfortably.
1. Wear trousers
Trousers are literally a winter game changer. There isn’t much more to be said here really, buy a good pair and you’ll be dry, warm and clean for your entire ride. In our experience, they are relatively easy to pedal in and any difficulties in this department are far outweighed by the warmth and comfort. Trousers also finally make waterproof socks make sense, as water can’t get down the top of the sock you'll have dry feet every time. We’ve tested the Altura Esker Trail trousers and really liked them, along with the Altura Ridge Tier Waterproof trousers.
2. Get a flask
A double-walled, vacuum flask is the best way to transport a hot drink on the ride with you, equating to a mid-ride coffee stop wherever you are in the back of beyond. We’ve got one in for test from Hydro Flask, its made of steel so there is no nasty BPA’s to wreak havoc on your health and they’ll be no transfer or absorptions of food either meaning today’s energy drink won’t taste like yesterdays Americano. Ours is set to keep a drink hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours, plenty long enough for a spin with a scenic cake and coffee stop. Lastly, if you get one with the right diameter base, it’ll fit in your bike bottle cage meaning more room for cake in your pack.
3. Eat baby food
Yes, we’re serious. Do you ever feel like winter food consumption is one long run of serious carbohydrates and comfort food? It’s easy to get your nutrients and a fruit fix whilst out riding by picking up a pack or two of squeezable baby food. Just because it says ‘baby’ on the front and is in the aisle next to the nappies doesn’t mean it can’t be consumed by us adults, even the ones that feel like big kids out on their bikes.
Choose a good brand and you’ll find the ingredients are organic and nothing more than good old squashed fruit. There are loads of options from coconut and banana to strawberries and apple and to top it off the squeezy nature of the packaging will mean that if you don’t eat them, unlike that week-old banana in the bottom of your bag, these will be good for the next ride instead.
4. Get a paintbrush to clean up your bike
A tip once passed down to Rachael by a friend and 4x racer, get a paintbrush for bike cleaning. We’re talking DIY shop type paint brushed here, nothing fancy although ones that don’t lose the bristles are preferable. Buy a multipack and you’ll have a brush for every crevice of your bike, just spray on your preferred bike cleaner and then agitate with the paintbrush. You’ll still need a stiff brush for the chain and cassette but it’s a good idea to keep these greasy ones separate anyway.
5. Buy good post-ride pants
So maybe this one isn’t just for winter but we’re guessing that after a long day in the saddle and a fair bit of rubbing and chafing from wet lycra you’ll be glad of a nice soft set of bum friendly pants. We are currently keen on 7Mesh's Foundation Bike Boxers as our preferred option of post-ride aftercare, perfect for those times when going commando isn’t socially acceptable.
These seamless pants teamed up with some soothing chamois cream from the likes of Chamois Butt’r is a match made in heaven. If you do prefer riding sans chamois pad, we reckon a pair of these would go down a treat too, there are no seams in awkward places, they are made from beech tree pulp (a 95% natural material) and are super breathable and silky to the touch – smooth.
Have we missed something? What else do you do to make winter that little bit more bearable? Let us know your tips in the comments below.
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