Winter is approaching fast in the UK this year. Already at the very start of September the weather is cool and already a T-shirt and shorts are not enough for my evening rides back from the city. But the cold is only a very mild cycling deterrent compared to the rain. Arriving to work or a friends house drenched is a bad way to start the day. On the way home it’s not so bad, but no one wants to spend a whole day soaking.
So here we are in early Autumn and already I’ve been caught out a handful of times without my waterproofs cycling furiously through a downpour trying to reach the next bus shelter before I get so thoroughly sodden I might as well swim the rest of the way.
But there really is no reason not to cycle all year round and I always make a point to do so, I treat cycling as a lifestyle choice as well as a leisure activity and try and encourage other people to do the same, besides all dedicated cyclists know that the best rides are those on crisp and frosty Autumn mornings. There is no reason to get wet and no reason to be cold, with a few inexpensive items all weather riding is easy.
Before I mention the few, very obvious, things you will need to stay warm and dry let me share with you a secret. I warn you, this may seem controversial, especially to those living in England. Here it is; in England it doesn’t rain as much as you think it does. I’ll try and justify this radical statement; last October I cycled to work four days every week and not once was rained on, then I cycled all through the winter, spring and into summer and only actually got rained on a few times, a little rain, sleet and snow occasionally (I loved the snow) but nothing consistent day after day. I was really surprised to find that I just thought it rained more perhaps because no one ever remarks ‘oh look it’s not raining’. Yes it’s often grey and dark and it certainly does rain, but I suspect it doesn’t rain as much as many people think.
So how about when it does rain, what should you be using to keep warm and dry? Well if it’s heavy rain my opinion may differ from other cyclists here as I prefer to use non cycle specific waterproofs, the coat I use is a Berghaus RG1 and it’s absolutely fantastic and has a great hood. I think it’s more durable than some of the cycling tops and requires less care. It’s a thick durable waterproof layer with no insulation inside so you can wear it alone on warm rainy days and then over the top of hoodys or base layers, e.t.c, when the temperature really drops. As with any waterproofs you use for sports it’s best to look for the more breathable materials to avoid sweat and moisture building up against your skin.
It doesn’t matter so much that your fingers get wet but it can be painful when they get really cold, also breaking can be difficult as you lose finger dexterity and mobility. Every winter cyclist needs a good pair of insulating and waterproof gloves, there are many kinds that all work well but I wont mention the ones I use here because they leak.
For long rides, or really heavy rain you will need some waterproof over trousers. Again, it helps if these are a little breathable and not simply made from PVC to help keep you dry. Finally, stash a rain cover or plastic bag under your saddle to cover it should you leave your bike in the rain. Any Brooks, or other brands of leather saddle, owners will want to be extra vigilant with this as the leather will deteriorate if it continues to get wet, especially if it hasn’t been waxed or otherwise waterproofed for some time.