As sure as birds migrate and leaves fall, winter brings on the traditional slow-down in cycling activity. And for some it’s well-intentioned down-time. Time to size up new models for the spring events, or stay up late to watch the Giro and Le tour to talk up the 'latest and greatest’. it’s also, in all reality, the best time to cycle in Sydney, and here’s why;
1) Clear spaces ahead The onset of winter in our cities means people scale back their outdoor time. Many urbanites tend to use to colder months to sleep in on weekends. That means fewer drivers on the roads, fewer joggers and dog walkers, in fact just fewer people in general. The upshot is more room for cyclists, and a much more relaxed ride for us. On such days, with nothing but my front wheel and some morning mist in front of me, I secretly wish "why can’t it be this serene all year round"
2) Sweat; there’s a whole lot less. The long hot summer days are a distant memory. Those cold mornings are now your friend, and the cool crisp air works to avoid over-heating. “But it’s cold outside” - The secret lies in layering your clothing and choosing the right materials. Wool has made a big comeback in outdoor / active wear because of its universal ability to keep your warm, whilst offering phenomenal breathability to wick away any moisture. It even helps with BO since wool possesses some mild antibacterial properties. Brands like Kathmandu , Macpac , Icebreaker and others all offer cyclist-friendly merino tops. And keep an eye out for Aldi gear; they usually have great buys every season on merino active wear, well-worth the wait in my experience.
3) You won’t need a change of clothes The cooler months mean you can get to pretty much any destination without needing a change of clothes. Or need for a shower. And whilst it may not be any easier to tackle a 30km ride in jeans, theres a whole load of cycle-friendly stretchy fabrics that would make any fashion-forward commuter happy. Check out the selection from Rapha (we are big fans), who offer a entire wardrobe of winter gear for every cyclist. Their range includes weather-proof (seam-sealed) and water-resistant materials, with designs ranging from traditional lycra and wool blends, to inconspicuous cycle-friendly jackets, shirts and pants.
4) It’s the best way to stay warm Ok so there are a few necessary items you’ll need: windproof gloves and jackets, long pants, lip balm, and a chapeau (hat) or slim bandana under your helmet. These will all help in keeping you warm in the chill air. But the very act of cycling is one of the best ways to warm up your body on a winter’s day. There’s nothing new in the relationship between poor circulation and suffering the winter chills. A good cardio workout - and cycling is amongst the best - improves your cardio-vascular fitness, with benefits to your circulation. Put simply, it’s a great way to warm your body, and fire up your metabolism to keep you warmer through the rest of the day.
5) And if it rains, it’s fun to shop. Many bike brands launch their new models in line with the northern summer and in tune with the big events (Giro, Le Tour, etc). That means you’ll get to shop around before any of the spring/summer rush. Sales staff aren’t ‘under the pump’ , and can spend quality time with their clients. It’s really the best time to visit your bike shop.
6) Summer bodies are made in winter It’s a common complaint; you’ve let yourself go over the winter months. Then the realisation sets in: “I need to get fit / lose weight / fit into my swimmers before Xmas….” There are entire industries ready to sap your income to shed those winter kilos. Why buy into it? just keep cycling, and keep the kilos off, free of charge!
7) Because we can! Much of the world suffers real winters: Blizzards that close schools and businesses with snow dumps six-feet deep. Icy winds that drive torrential rains for weeks on end. Endless darkness that only releases a couple of hours of miserable foggy daylight. And the locals go stir crazy being locked indoors for so much of it. Seriously, our winters are, for the most part, really mild and pleasant in comparison. We are truly fortunate to be able to cycle year-round. Why waste such a gifted opportunity? Go on; get on your bike now!