How to be Motivated in the Cold and Wet

It’s often tempting, when it’s bad weather, to ditch the bike and revert back the car. You gaze out of the window and are greeted with a cold and windy outlook, and your mind fills with dread at the thought of having to pull on layers of clothing and waterproofs; all of which have minimal effect as you’ll still arrive at work looking like a drowned rat!

When faced with the wind and the rain, it’s easy to leave the bike at home and journey by some other means – the car, the bus, or the train.

Unfortunately, when you have that thought, so do thousands of others!  You can see it for yourself on the roads.  Whenever the weather gets bad, the traffic gets worse – and that’s because lots of people who would otherwise have walked or cycled are suddenly in their cars.

Of course, if you do brave the weather on your bike – and when you do, it’s often nowhere near as bad as you imagined it – you get to skip past all those traffic queues – which feels pretty good.  Plus you get to enjoy the benefits of feeling refreshed and awake when you get to your destination.

If you are going to cycling in the cold and wet, here are some handy tips:

  • Dress in layers – avoid pulling on a huge thick coat or jumper to protect against the cold, as you won’t be able to regulate your temperature as you warm up on the journey.  Instead wear several thin layers, so that you can take one off if you get too hot.  Some people swear by marino wool for the base layer against your skin, as it’s warm and doesn’t get smelly!
  • Get good waterproofs – I was once told that “there’s no such thing as bad weather – just unsuitable clothing”, so make sure you have a wind-proof and waterproof jacket and trousers (or if you’re a lady, perhaps a rainwrap if you’re wearing a dress/skirt), and don’t forget about waterproof gloves, hats and shoes.
  • Cycle in the Buff – no I don’t mean naked!  Get yourself some Buff headgear – it’s a kind of stretchy tubular fabric that has a myriad of uses, including as a scalf, bandana, hat, or face mask.
  • Get good mudguards – you may not like the aesthetic of them on your bike, but they will stop you getting covered in dirty water spray from off the road.
  • Get good lights – Make sure people can see you on the dark mornings and evenings.  Most traffic accidents happen at twilight, so keep you lights on until its daylight.  And make sure you carry extra batteries.
  • Be on your guard – other road users will have reduced visibility, so keep out of their way.  Also allow for a greater stopping distance on your bike, as wet brakes take longer to get a grip.  Metal manhole covers can also be slippery when wet, so watch out.
  • Step up the routine maintenance – make sure you clean and lubricate your bike more often when when it’s wet.  A little bit of maintenance will stop your bike rusting up, and thus save you money in the long run.  You may also want to get your bike serviced, just to make sure everything is working correctly.

Above all, don’t be put off by the weather when cycling.  It may not be as fun as on a warm summer’s day, but it’s still the best way to get about!

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog

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