Winter cycling hacks

It’s teeth chatteringly cold outside and my Strava feed is full of hardy cyclists heading out on their bikes and braving the elements. Although it’s starting to feel like it’s all downhill to spring, the recent cold snap has got me thinking about some of my favourite tried and tested cheats. Here are 5 tips that even your granny would be impressed with!

1. Tinfoil toes
Wrapping tinfoil around your toes really does provide insulation and keep the wintry nip off. Yes, it’s a bit odd but no one can see once your toes are firmly scrunched inside your shoes. The most important thing is to use a premium foil brand otherwise it will disintegrate and make a sparkly mess when you take your shoes off. I made the mistake of buying value tin foil when I first tried this so speak from experience!

2. Plastic fantastic
I like to keep a pair of plastic gloves (free at petrol stations) in my tool bag because I hate getting my hands dirty when faced with a puncture. I know it’s a bit pathetic, but there is another reason to pack these emergency freebees – they are great as an extra layer when your fingers get too cold. Simply pop them on under your more fashionable cycling gloves and you’ll notice your hands warm up really quickly.

3. Prevent punctures
Punctures are far more common in the winter due to mucky british roads. Getting a puncture when it is freezing cold or pouring with rain is the pits. This next tip requires a bit of planning but seriously pays off in the long run. Spend some time inspecting your tyres before a winter ride – let some air out, grab a torch and take a really close look. Squeeze the tyre between your thumb and forefinger to reveal any debris stuck in the rubber. These sharp nasties are likely to work their way through to puncture your inner tube if not removed. Grab a pair of tweezers and pick out glass and foreign objects. Re-inflate your tyres and voila! If you notice bald patches or large cuts in your tyres get down to your local bike shop and invest in a new set.

4. Wipe out
Wet wipes are my secret weapon against the elements. Use them to clean the rims of your wheels and your chain after every ride. There’s something in wet wipes that cleans grease and grime really well. This easy cleaning ritual will reduce wear and give your components lots of extra miles. Whilst this isn’t a replacement for a proper clean, it is a great solution during the week in between proper washes – oh and your bike will smell great too!

5. Yesterday’s news
If you go out on a ride and it turns wet you can dry your shoes out by using old newspaper. Remove your insoles and stuff the shoes with screwed up newspaper. The newspaper will soak up the moisture and speed up the drying process. Don’t forget to change the newspaper when it gets damp.