Tips on how to beat the bad weather and get out on your bike

The following article was published today in the West Sussex County Times.

Horsham cyclist shares tips on how to beat the bad weather and get out on your bike

Can you remember breathing clean air and hearing birdsong everywhere during the first lockdown? The lack of traffic and the long days of fine weather brought people out on bikes in their droves.

It was especially delightful to see so many families out on their bikes, many children clearly riding for the very first time.

Now we’re into a third lockdown the weather isn’t quite as kind but the reasons for getting on your bike haven’t changed.

It’s good for your health and everyone else’s health. The improved air quality during the first lockdown is estimated to have already saved well over a thousand lives, and indications are that there is a significant link between COVID-19 recovery and fitness.

Winter cycling during the lockdown (pic: Mark Treasure)

There’s no need for any special clothing, just dress for the weather. You can generate quite a bit of warmth when riding, a bit like brisk walking, so you don’t need to overdress. However if it’s really cold it’s a good idea to wear a hat and especially gloves since your hands are always exposed on a bike.

If you’re out riding after sunset remember to fit some lights. Modern LED lights are incredibly bright. They’re also lightweight, inexpensive and have a very long battery life so there’s no reason to be left in the dark.

If you’ve got an old bike sitting in the back of the garden shed, remember to pump up the tyres before you take it for a spin. If there are any unusual noises you can always take it to a local bike shop – they’ve remained open throughout the lockdown.

And if you’re looking for a new bike, consider one that has a more upright riding position more suited to pootling about town, and look out for practical features for everyday riding, such as mudguards and a rack.

You can carry a surprising amount of shopping in a pair of panniers fitted to a rack, and even a traditional handlebar-mounted wicker basket can easily accommodate a casual top-up shop.

Taking the bike to the shops (or for a leisure ride) means you’ll be embedding gentle exercise into your daily routine, and there’s no need for costly and time-consuming gym membership (gyms are closed during lockdown anyway).

We know that being outdoors in the fresh air is the safest place to be in a respiratory pandemic. It’s also vitally important to maintain good cardiovascular fitness through regular light exercise. Riding a bike means you can easily – and cheaply – combine the two.

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