Most folks seem to have come back to work today after the winter break and I’m wondering how many of the shiny bikes in the rack belong to new cyclists who made a new year’s resolution to get fit, get healthy or lose weight? It can’t be the most fun part of the year to commute by bike for the first time. This morning it was pelting with rain, a bit windy and dark. Did I mention dark? So that got me wondering if all these budding new cyclists really knew what to expect when they promised they’d start commuting by bike. That’s ok, though, there are loads of more experienced cyclists out there who can give some great advice based on proper experience. So, in that vein, I thought I’d do a wee blog post to offer some advice on bicycle commuting during the winter.
I have two pieces of advice I’d give any new cyclist for this time of year, get good clothes and gloves and by good I mean warm and rain proof and importantly for this time of year, reflective, secondly get decent lights, not just whatever cheap ones the bike shop had on sale.
At this time of year, it’s pretty much going to be dark when you leave in the morning and dark when you leave to come home so good lights and reflective kit is really important. You need to be able to see and to be seen.
But cycle kit is expensive
Yep, it can be, I absolutely hear you on that one but you don’t have to go out and buy yourself all the gear in one go. Start off with the essential items, like good lights and a good waterproof and highly visible jacket. You want something bright for during the day with lots of reflective areas for the night. With lights, don’t waste your money on the cheap lights in the bargain bucket at the bike shop, you really do get what you pay for. Think about the type of places you will be cycling. Will there be street lights for instance?
I regularly cycle on a path which has absolutely no lights at all, so for me, lights are as much about being able to see as well as being seen.
The same goes for cycle clothing, I mentioned having a decent amount of reflective areas but again, you don’t need to go buy a really expensive cycling jacket you get all sorts of reflective strips and arm bands etc that work really well.
So start off just making sure you are safe, then if you stick with the cycling, you can start asking friends and family for bits of kits for birthdays etc.
Easy and cheaper solutions
An easy solution is reflective stickers. They are cheap and can be applied to the bike, bags, helmets etc and are really effective.
We stuck some stickers onto our helmets which are black normally but light up when a light hits them.
You can also buy click on spoke reflectors, I got these online for 2 quid.
A bit more expensive but long lasting
Buying cycling specific reflective kit is more expensive but depending on your journey it might be recommended. I do parts of my route in pitch black, so my super reflective jacket is great.
A little bit can make a difference and maybe just help you to feel comfortable now the nights have drawn in.