Faire du vélo en hiver : les conseils d'un pro

Cycling in winter: Tips from a pro

It's starting to snow and the temperature is dropping? No problem! You can continue to practice your favourite sport: Cycling, even in winter and even despite difficult weather conditions! David, Decathlon store manager and cycling enthusiast, answers all your questions.

For devoted cyclists, the winter season is no reason to hit pause. Quite the opposite, it's the perfect time to take on new challenges! Whether for your athletic training or commuting to work, don't bid goodbye to your bike and your winter travels. To ride safely during this season, here are a few tips to fully enjoy your cycling in winter.

Faire du vélo en hiver : les conseils d'un pro

Cycling in winter: Is it a good idea?

"Indeed, it's a good idea! Just because winter has arrived doesn't mean the bike has to be put away. If, like me, you suffer from seasonal depression, it's a fantastic initiative to continue to ride a bit outside. I say a bit, because winter riding means relearning the practice of cycling. One must be patient and take the time to understand what they're getting into.

Whether you're trail riding with oversized tires or commuting to work by bicycle, there are several aspects to analyze. Indeed, the condition of the roads, poor lighting, cold, more demanding maintenance are factors to consider before engaging in winter cycling. It's also important to know yourself well and accept that Mother Nature may sometimes be stronger than oneself."

Faire du vélo en hiver : les conseils d'un pro

How to bike in winter? Is it accessible to all?

"Cycling in winter requires some investment and the experience will vary depending on where you live. Without speaking of enormous investments, one needs to evaluate the condition of their bike to plan for proper maintenance. Indeed, it's essential to ensure the proper greasing of the headset, the bottom bracket, having brakes in good condition, and using a good lubricant for the chain. Following this, mudguards and studded tires will make riding more enjoyable.

Another aspect to consider is your place of residence. In Montreal, it's rather easy to get around by bike, as the city makes substantial efforts to encourage year-round cycling with several kilometres of bike paths. A massive network of bike paths is maintained throughout the year. However, the moment you cross a bridge, it's a whole different world. I strongly recommend checking before undertaking a trip, to know if it's feasible to reach your destination. Many municipalities make efforts, but the results vary from one city to another. If you're not confident enough to share the road with motorists, be proactive."

Faire du vélo en hiver : les conseils d'un pro

Jackets, coats, gloves, and socks: What clothes and accessories should you wear? How to protect yourself from the cold while cycling?

"In terms of clothing, it all depends on the distance you plan to travel. For a short journey of less than 5 km, good winter clothes will suffice. You just need to protect your extremities and stay warm. However, for longer distances or fat-tire bike rides, you need to consider more technical fabrics, master the layering system, and think about gear specifically designed for cold-weather cycling. Feet and hands are vulnerable during long bike rides.

Many cyclists swear by mittens to protect their hands from the cold in winter. Depending on the type of handlebar, different models exist. The eyes are also very sensitive to wind and cold, so ski glasses can be indispensable at certain times.

What is the layering system? The layering system is a technique that involves stacking multiple layers of different materials to improve the performance of a product. This technique allows you to stay dry and warm during your sporting activity."

Faire du vélo en hiver : les conseils d'un pro

Tires, chains: What equipment do you need for cycling in winter?

"As mentioned earlier, it's recommended to plan for maintenance of your bike. Additionally, understand that winter cycling involves premature wear and tear on your bike. Indeed, while salt makes paths safer, it will have repercussions on your bicycle. Studded tires and mudguards are important when it comes to winter cycling, especially when riding in slush or on black ice. Otherwise, powerful lights will be necessary as the sun sets early. Cyclists, be aware that the cold will shorten the battery life of your lights compared to the summer season."

How will my body react?

As you will understand, your body will react differently to exertion in January compared to a beautiful day in July. The first response of your body will be to respond to the cold by using energy to preserve body heat. This implies an increase in heart rate and greater fatigue for a usual effort. Your clothing will respond to the fact that your body will want to protect the organs and therefore leave your extremities at the mercy of your gloves and boots.

However, the more you practice your sport in winter, the more your body will get used to it. Greater energy expenditure means greater fatigue. It's therefore normal to need more warm time in bed and to have an increased appetite. Give your body what it needs. Finally, slowing down the pace of your movements is not only beneficial for safety. It will also help you manage your breathing in cold weather.

Faire du vélo en hiver : les conseils d'un pro

In conclusion, winter cycling is an excellent way to stay active and enjoy the joys of nature in all seasons. However, it's important to take precautions to ensure safety and comfort, such as wearing warm and reflective clothing, adjusting tire pressure, and equipping your bike with lights and a mudguard. With the right measures in place, winter cycling can be a pleasant and stimulating experience for all skill levels.


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