Winter cycling: wearing the right clothing

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Winter cycling: wearing the right clothing

Cycling UK has produced a series of videos with TV presenter Angellica Bell on how to prepare for cycling in colder weather. In this guide Angellica gets advice from Jenni Gwiazdowski, who runs the London Bike Kitchen, on how to stay warm and toasty during your winter rides.

Layers

The short answer to staying warm when riding in the winter is layers. The long answer is you need to know your own body because everyone is different.

Some people run hot and some people run cold. Some people sweat a lot and some people don't sweat at all. You have to wear things that will accommodate you. 

With UK weather, which tends to be a bit damp, it's important to have some waterproof. This would be your outer shell and then, underneath that, you can start layering other things whether that's just a t-shirt or several layers.

Layers are good because you can always add and take away. Have a waterproof on standby because you never know how the weather is going to change.


Fibres

Some people wear shorts throughout the winter and they may be fine with that! But if you’re looking for good warm clothes remember to think about what fibres you’re wearing. 

Wool and silk are particularly good for keeping warm. You can purchase silk cycling gear and silk base layers. Fibres like wool or merino cashmere feel really nice and are breathable, but still keep you warm even if you get wet.

If you’re vegan or don’t like those fibres you can also find really good technical fabrics as well, such as polyester that is designed to keep the heat in and the moisture out. 

Accessories

You can then add other items like hats, gloves and snoods. If your extremities tend to run cold you can use gloves underneath your outer gloves. 


Cycle specific clothing vs normal clothes

Cycle specific clothing is great but you can also get clothes elsewhere, such as second-hand shops. They're often a really good place to find useful items, perfect to wear on your bike. 

Jenni’s best find was some equestrian wellies which are waterproof and warm. 

Wet socks make for a bad day

Get some good socks because wet feet can make for a bad day.

Waterproofing

Waterproofness wears off over time so, if you need to, you can reproof your waterproofs. Brands such as Nikwax can be popped into the washing machine with your clothing and will reproof for you. Another way you can do this is with beeswax or plant wax. Simply rubbing the wax onto the item usually works on fabrics like cotton. 

Finally keep your belly warm

For those really really cold days you can even take a hot water bottle with you. Pop it under your jumper and away you go!


Use these top tips to keep yourself snug and warm throughout winter. And remember, cycling is a great way to stay healthy and active so don't give up just because winter is here.

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The London Bike Kitchen


Jenni Gwiazdowski runs the London Bike Kitchen, an open DIY bike workshop teaching people how to repair bikes.

Set up around eight years ago Jenni teaches people anything they want to know about bikes. 

Running women and gender-variant nights and women of colour nights, Jenni’s goal is just to get more people riding bicycles by understanding how their bike works. 

London Bike Kitchen website

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Comments

Worth mentioning hands - I often find my fingers go numb first. This winter I've been trying out pogies. These are basically neoprene pockets that go over your handlebars and you slide your hands into them to grip the bars, brakes, etc. They've been a game-changer for me. I can now wear a much thinner pair of gloves (so get better dexterity) and still have toasty fingers with my pogies. I've written more about them on my blog here: https://bicyclevolt.com/keep-hands-warm-while-cycling/