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Alice Barnes’ Survival Guide to Winter Cycling

During the winter months, we lose a lot of daylight and, for some, the opportunity to ride. The darker days and colder temperatures can make it extremely difficult to muster up the motivation to get out, so how can we combat this? Who best to ask for advice from than CANYON//SRAM team rider, Alice Barnes. No stranger to the podium, Alice has ridden and raced in all conditions, all over the world. With miles of experience under her tyres, Alice shares her winter cycling survival guide.

“The cold, wet days make winter training a challenge. I find the motivation to get out there and put in some hard graft by just knowing it needs to be done. In recent weeks there has been some terrible weather in Manchester with rain day after day, but I have found a lot more motivation seeing other people out riding just because of the pure joy of it. It makes me feel very privileged that I can call this my job, where I get paid to do what others love, whatever the weather. I really have been able to ride that bit harder because of that thought. Of course, there are good days and bad days, just like there will be in an office, but cracking on in the bad makes the good days that bit better.”

Alice’s Top Tips for Surviving Winter Riding

  • Clothing is really important and so hard to get right. For winter, when it gets really cold, I will wear two base layers. It gives extra thermal insulation but without making you feel too restricted. Obviously, a waterproof which I will take with me all year round except for about one week a year when it is blue skies, sunshine and 22+ degrees. Too much unpredictable weather around!
  • Stay hydrated. Slightly hypocritical from me because I am terrible at this! I mean, who wants to drink ice cold drinks when it’s freezing? We sweat a lot more than we realise in the winter, especially when climbing.
  • Mudguards. Such a lifesaver when it is cold. Pretty self-explanatory but great for keeping the bum dry, and the kit looking fresh.
  • Clean bike. It’s the worse chore when you get back from a cold and wet ride, but it will save those parts, and it is always much nicer to start the next day with a clean bike. Even if it doesn’t last that long, just a hose, dry and lube works fine, but for sure every few days, a good old degrease is necessary.
  • Dry shoes. Don’t forget to give your shoes a proper dry out if they get wet. No-one wants to put wet shoes on the next day. It works best to stuff your wet shoes with newspaper and then hang above a radiator with Neatcleats, or mine usually go above the boiler.
  • Lights! This is a big one for me. I will take a bike light with me all year round. I feel so unsafe without it. Especially in the winter because of less daylight, but also because a lot of rain clothing is black. A front light for when the days are dull just makes everyone else much more aware of you. I think it would shock you how many people see you at the last minute and will make up for a lot of the close passes that happen.
  • Don’t be silly! If it’s icy, then don’t risk it. With technology like Zwift these days, it isn’t worth the risk of crashing. If it is really necessary to get out, stick to the roads that you know have been gritted, so you don’t come across any black ice.