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How to stay safe on your bike this winter

With winter fast approaching and the light summer evenings all but gone, for cyclists and runners it’s time to wrap up and be seen whilst commuting. Here’s our five-point guide to help you get to where you’re going safely…

Stay warm

We’ve all done it, set out for a ride or run and thought ‘I’ll warm up en route’ or ‘I’ll be fine once I set off’. There is an element of truth in that of course, but it’s much better to dress for the weather than your possible impending sweat. Gloves, scarves, balaclavas and base layers are vital. It’s better to arrive hot than cold and you don’t want the blast of an icy wind to penetrate your gear, sapping any enjoyment from the journey for the sake of not sweating. It really does pay to stay warm and wrap up.

Lights and reflective clothes

It really is hard to be seen whilst out on dark nights, but being seen can be a lifesaver. If we could all have our own fog horns or light houses to announce our arrival, it would be great, but as we aren’t all huge headlands jutting out into the sea we’ll have to settle for the wonderful array of lights and reflective clothing on offer. Try smaller flashing lights fitted to both the front and back of your helmet and the same for runners’ caps or hoods. Have these alongside your lights on the bike and reflective clothing and you should shine brightly enough without being mistaken for a Christmas tree.

Upgrade your transport

For cyclists more tyre tread is preferable and runners need extra grip on their shoes in the winter. It’s slippery on those grey overcast days, even when it’s not raining or snowing the cold weather brings in ice and moisture. Most hybrids and mountain bikes will be better equipped for the season changes as they tend to have tyres with additional tread. Another handy trick is to lower your tyre pressure for more surface area grip. It’s best to make these small changes as the seasons come and go, so get some new tyres and runners get a pair of trainers with extra grip, go on treat yourself.

Keep alert at all times

This goes for city cycling and running in general, but remember to keep your nerves in check and focus on keeping your body centered and balanced whilst riding, especially when conditions are slippery. There is a fine balance between watching the road more closely than usual when there is snow, slush or ice on the roads and also watching out for cars and pedestrians who play by their own rules. Be sure to ride according to the conditions and slow down in general. It’s important to remember that the other road users may not be as alert as you. We have all experienced a pedestrian or car step out/turn right into us at one point or another. Also, be even more aware of reduced visibility due to obstructed car windows, not everybody scrapes their windows well enough in the morning rush. Maybe avoid plugging into your iPod and stay focused with all those wonderful senses of yours.

Try new routes

As simple as it sounds this is a great idea. You may have that run fixed in your mind and the bike route perfectly mapped out as it’s 13 minutes and 53 seconds exactly to work and you can do it every time. Sticking to the same roads and routes is a chore and you start to lose focus as everything becomes routine. Trying new routes will keep you alert and also add interest to the journey, perhaps you’ll even find a new coffee spot along the way!

FIND A NEW ROUTE WITH FLOWFINDER

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