Seasonal Cycling


Staying cool and not overheating on your bike when out on a family bike ride in the summer.

boy and parent cycling along path in forest

Summer

Summer is the perfect time to be out and about on bicycles. However you do need to bear a few things in mind to make sure you get the most out of the experience.

  • Make sure you’ve had enough to eat and drink before heading out – keep spare bottles of water in a bag or on the bicycle. You can put ice cubes into the bottles or keep them in the fridge before heading out. You can also buy insulated bottles which will keep your drink colder for longer. You really are going to need to stay hydrated if it is hot
  • Use sun-cream, don’t forget the key areas which are exposed when you are on a bicycle, including the back of your neck, the tops of your ears, your nose, and the back of your legs
  • If it’s very bright, sunglasses are an excellent idea, but please note that they will not help you make eye contact and communicate in this way with other road users
  • Take some snacks and drinks with you, so you can all keep your energy topped up along the way
  • Try and plan your ride so there is one (or more) stop(s) en-route eg. a local café or somewhere where you can find some shade
  • Gloves – summer fingerless gloves are great to provide grip when holding the handlebars, and are very lightweight, but beware that you could get some strange tan lines from them!
  • Appropriate clothing – A light top and shorts, breathable and not restrictive. Also, depending on how much hair you have on your head, but those with less might want a thin cap under their helmet to protect from the suns’ rays
  • Don’t stay out in the sun too long. Obviously this duration is personal and depends on how acclimatised you are to the heat, and how prepared you are. But don’t underestimate the effects of being out in the heat for too long
  • Some helpful considerations from British Cycling can also be found here.

Winter

How to stay warm and dry on your bike when out on a bike ride in the winter.

On a clear, crisp winter’s day it can be great to be out on your bike as a family, taking advantage of the precious daylight hours and getting some fresh air at the weekend. However, to fully enjoy your excursion you need to be able to stay warm and dry. A few tips on how to manage this below.

  • Make sure you’ve had enough to eat and drink before heading out – keeping warm in the winter requires energy!
  • Take some snacks and drinks with you, so you can all keep your energy topped up along the way. If you have insulated water bottles / thermos you could even consider taking a hot drink(s) with you
  • Try and plan your ride so there is one (or more) stop(s) en-route eg. a local café or somewhere where you can get inside and warm up if you need to
  • Make sure you have warm socks and gloves for all the family – these are the parts of you that are likely to feel the cold first (and before you leave you could even put your shoes, socks and gloves in the airing cupboard/on a radiator to give them a warming ‘boost’)
  • Appropriate clothing – it’s definitely worth getting this right! Too many clothes and you might get sweaty, and then damp which could chill you down. If you each have a series of layers (plus a spare warm top to put on when you stop) you can then take them on and off to get to the right temperature. NB – although it might not feel comfortable, if you start off feeling slightly chilly you will probably be about the right temperature once you’ve all started pedalling and generating heat

Some key items to consider:

  • Gloves – need to be insulated but not too bulky. Windproof/waterproof gloves provide extra protection
  • Layers for your body – insulating mid-layers (can combine with a gilet top – these are useful – less bulk and keep your core warm) plus warm leggings/tights
  • A windproof/waterproof outer layer for both your top and legs. Even if you don’t wear these throughout the ride it is good to have them with you in case the wind picks up or it starts to rain
  • Socks – good quality, warm ones! But make sure they aren’t too tight in your shoes as this can affect blood flow/air circulation and make your feet colder. Merino and/ or waterproof socks are useful but not essential. (PS mudguards on your bikes will help reduce splash onto your feet/clothes and therefore help keep you drier, and warmer)
  • Optional – a thin hat (eg beanie) to add extra warmth for your head (under your helmet)
  • Optional – a buff to keep out drafts and keep your neck warm. It can be pulled up to protect your lower face too, especially on the downhills!
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