It's January, that time of year when the Arctic wind cuts you to the core and the hard work of getting fit again starts in earnest.
What better time to understand how to cheat the cold through a combination of cold weather cycling gear and tips that won’t cost you a penny?
David Law, Product Manager for stolen goat, shares five tried and tested pieces of advice that will help you keep cycling in cold weather this winter:
This post is sponsored by Stolen Goat
1. Dress to keep cycling in cold weather (not rain)
Fact: You ride in the cold more often than you think. You ride in continual, unabated heavy rain less often than you think. Dress accordingly: think cold weather cycling clothes not wet weather cycling clothes.
A fully windproof, thermal garment that breathes more easily will be a better choice in deep cold weather than a full waterproof that won't ever let even the heaviest rain in, but will create its own sub-tropical, micro-climate from the inside.
Of course, the exception is if it really is raining cats and dogs when you leave the house.
But when deciding what to wear cycling in winter ask yourself, how often do you ride in the pouring rain for several hours?
Sure, you remind your mates every weekend about that time you rode through a freezing downpour for four hours, but that was like once in the last year, admit it!
A stolen goat Climb & Conquer jacket is perfect winter cycling wear - fully windproof, thermal, insulated and will keep out most rain without being a plastic bag!
2. In praise of slippers + radiators
Remember that time when you were fine until you got cold, but then once you were cold, the whole ride/event/shopping trip just fell apart? And you got cold because it started in your extremities and then seemed to "permeate" into your core?
Your ears, nose, cheeks, hands and feet all have special blood vessels that control cooling and warming. Given this is the case, why would you walk barefoot around the house before you put your cycling shoes on and leave? Or put your shoes on outside, with exposed hands and just socks covering them? Never do this!
Slippers on as soon as you are out of bed old boy/old girl, big woolly socks, and in the most extreme cold, warm your feet and hands on the radiator for a couple of minutes before immediately donning your shoes, overshoes and gloves. Whilst still inside. Obviously, these same items should be kept somewhere warm as well, like the airing cupboard or within proximity of a radiator, prior to the ride.
Trust me, this will keep you warm for a much longer time when you are out there.
3. Cover your ears
As I just mentioned, our ears, nose, cheeks, hands and feet all have special blood vessels that control cooling and warming. Why then would you put a summer cap, or worse still, nothing, under your helmet when the mercury plummets?
In my experience, a windproof, insulated skull cap (or "Belgian cap") that pulls down over your ears is a winter cycling essential which will do wonders for your overall enjoyment of the ride. And remember, because you don't use your mobile phone when you ride (do you?) it's okay to have ears covered and warm.
stolen goat's Belgian cap is one of my favourite pieces of winter cycling kit. It will cosset your head like an egg under a hen, and get all the admiring glances at the coffee stop.
4. Think like a car. Eat more.
Like a cold car engine, a cold human engine consumes more fuel. You are burning way more calories in cold conditions just to stay warm. If you run out of energy, your power will drop, and your temperature will drop even more because your engine is now generating less heat.
Make sure you eat more on the bike to compensate for this in the winter.
We would advise against lightweight sugary sweets and gels, and take more hearty food: there's nothing like savoury, salty food to fuel your fire. Favourites include: good quality sausage rolls or pork pie, maybe even a Scotch egg or a ham sandwich wrapped in foil. So much better than a gel, and you deserve it.
You're a badass, after all, riding in the cold.
5. Seal the gaps: a poor cuff is not enough
If you have a draft whistling up your arm from the wrist because your clothing is either too baggy at the cuff, or not tucked into your gloves, or worst of all, the arms are too short, you will soon regret it.
So, be more like an Arctic explorer: make sure your warm cycling clothes are adjusted properly before you leave.
And have jackets with stretchy double cuffs, that grip your wrist (without having a seam), rather than anything that has loose or non-elasticated cuffs. Everybody needs a good cuff!
See the stolen goat Orkaan jersey as an example of a top with a snug, wide double cuff that won't funnel air towards your core. I’ve worn one for the last few winters and think it’s one of the best bits of winter cycling gear around.
Big thanks to David for his cold weather cycling tips!
If you fancy some new kit, you know we wholeheartedly endorse stolen goat kit which we’ve found unfailingly good quality and beautifully designed (check our reviews here and there's more information on our relationship with stolen goat, here).