As late as it may be, it feels like Winter is actually starting to take hold now. so we give the dark season attention to keep us charging through the cold long nights.
Get you, and your steed properly dressed.
It should come as no surprise that winter can get really cold, really wet, and pretty bleak. If you are properly dressed you will have a much better time out on the trails. A decent jacket is a must, waterproof shorts or trousers can help, and a few little extras can make the difference between a great ride and a miserable time. Layering is definitely the way forward, the choice of man-made or natural fibres is a personal one now. Our current favourites include the Howies merio base layer, Sealskinz socks and a decent Gore-Tex scavenged from TKMaxx. Our favorite bit of kit is a Loksack phone case meaning our posh tech and a fiver for the pub stays dry.
As for your bike, get some mud-guards and you won’t regret it. As well as stopping a stream of crap going in your eyes, they can also keep the filth from plastering your lights and working its way into your seals. Current favourites include the Mudhugger, and one we made out of an old chopping board.
Grab those moments when you can.
You can’t help but notice it’s a lot darker in winter. Grab a daylight ride if you can, but also invest in some decent lights. You can get some reasonable if unreliable lights from the far East for a song from eBay , or spend a bit more for reliability, chargers that don’t need supervision and UK warranties. For the action camera addict, check out the Knog Qudos light as a way of bringing a bit of light to your videos during the crappier weather.
Be like a scout – Be Prepared!
If you got a call right now, could you go riding? Make sure you have a set of kit clean(ish) and dry(ish), and not scattered all over the place. Keep your riding pack together, and replace tubes, patches, bars or whatever else you want to take with you at the end of the last ride. All of this will cut down your faff factor and maximise your riding. The same goes for your bike, keep it in good order so you can just slap a bit of extra lube on and go at a moments notice. Don’t be that guy who wasted the sunny Saturday fixing his bike while all his mates went shredding.
Know your trails.
Wet trails are weaker, and will take a real battering over the winter. If you take the short term view you might get to slay some sick ruts, but come the spring you might find your local loop has become a right mess. Head for something with a bit of structure to it if you want to ensure the longevity of the riding in your area. The poor weather does soften the ground and those long nights browsing the web fuel the imagination so why not use some time to get involved in a local dig day. Watch out for unsolicited digging in established areas, you might find you are treading on toes or compromising agreements, it always pays to check before you swing a mattock.
Clean up properly
Riding through the winter will plaster your bike in a unique range of grit, mud and slime. If you don’t clean it off properly it will quickly work its way into your bearings and drivetrain creating a unique blend known as GritLube and systematically making a right mess of expensive components. Using a decent cleaner and a hose, as well as a good, thick wet-lube and a brush and you should be on a winner. A recent addition to the van is a 15 quid garden sprayer, ideal for giving the bike a quick tickle while it’s still wet.
Have a goal
It can be easy to get fed-up over the winter, so make sure you have something to look forward to. Book a race, book a holiday, book an uplift, but make sure you have something to anticipate and get excited about.You will also have a bit of extra motivation to get out there and shred.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
If you are out in the cold and wet you will burn far more energy so can justify having a bit more grub with you, and that second pie…. maybe! Don’t forget to drink, just because it’s cold your body still needs fluids to operate properly. Go riding with your mates, get loose, get wild and have a great time this winter, after all it’ll be vest tops and sunset dust before you know it….
Words and Photos – Tom Laws