Here at G!RO we love riding… It plays a huge part in our daily lives and is central to the lives of many within our community. We love to #RideWithMates, enjoy a pre-ride, mid-ride or post-ride cafe stop and use the bike as a tool to keep sane and fit. Winter, particularly UK winter, poses a threat to all this. It make’s ticking off the KM’s harder as daylight hours are slowly crushed inwards as we race towards winter solstice and gaps in the grim weather become fewer, and further between. However, here at G!RO we’re dedicated to keeping everyone riding as much as humanly possible, especially this year (2020) with all the challenges and troubles we’ve all had to face - now, more than ever we must cherish the head clearing, blood pumping goodness a bike ride can bring you. We must chase those endorphins as much as we can, and whilst winter will try and sap the goodness away; here at G!RO we’re dedicated to bring you all our favourite tips and tricks to maximise your winter riding and reap the benefits even in deepest, darkest December.
In volume 1, we’ll be taking a look at all important kit choices, as many a wise cyclists have said; “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad kit”. So we’re here to help you find the good stuff, explaining how to get the most out of your kit, sharing some top tips from our mates and recommending some of our favourite pieces from G!RO kit FAVOURITES Attaquer! We’ll be sure to have included plenty of links and images within for all the included pieces, so prepping for your best winter riding is as simple as grabbing a coffee and having a read through. So get stuck in, and fire over any questions you may have afterwards!
We’ve learnt the hard way so you don’t have too - Layering
To master winter riding, you must become an onion. Many layers are key! Layers allow you to quickly adapt to changing conditions and ensure your core temperature remains stable (and preferably warm) throughout your ride. Stay warm and your ride stays enjoyable, as many of us have learnt the hard way. With rain commonplace and temperatures low, the only way to regulate temperature in the UK winter is a wardrobe of options that prevent wind chill, keep you dry and keep you insulated. With all our riders many years of experience, you can learn how to layer appropriately, and avoid having to learn the hard and incredibly uncomfortable way of real life trial and error. So here’s what you’ll need:
Base Layer - The starting point of all good layering is a good base layer. The purpose of base layer, whilst obviously being one more layer of warmth is to keep the body dry by wicking sweat away quickly as you exert yourself on a ride. This will keep you warm and dry right at the first layer. It will also give you a comfortable layer to have between your body and your bib short straps which prevents rubbing.
Bib-Shorts or Tights - Bibs are a must, and depending on temperatures, you’ll be choosing between shorts and tights. Bibs provide shoulder straps for support and comfort and are an absolute must for riding year round, the different length options offer you different levels of protection for the conditions. As a rule of thumb, we recommend shorts for temperatures higher that 14 degrees and tights (either shorts with leg warmers, or full tights) for anything below. Ensure you have the right sizing and the chamois and materials suit the kind of riding you do, to avoid unnecessary rubbing or discomfort. We love the Attaquer All Day options for long days in the saddle, with a comfortable chamois and soft high end Italian fabric that is available in shorts and tights versions, the tights featuring additional windproofing in the material to negate wind-chill and a waterproof lower leg to prevent road spray soaking through.
Jersey - Next in the layering hierarchy is the jersey. Here again, you have two options, depending on temperature. Milder days, you can go short sleeve and add arm warmers to keep your forearms protected from the elements, or you can pick up a long sleeve jersey, with slightly more insulation. A soft, lightweight fleece lined option like the Attaquer, winter long sleeve outliner jersey is a perfect example. Light enough to wear with no base layer on mild days, or pair with a thick long sleeve base layer and use right into single figure temperatures throughout deepest winter. It’s versatile across a wide range of temperatures and makes it an incredible fit as a prime staple piece for any winter wardrobe. Especially here in the UK.
Outerwear - The items that make or break any winter wardrobe, with a huge variety of options that offer various levels of protection, often boasting the latest and greatest revolution in weather proof technology, this area can be a minefield where you quickly end up with the wrong piece. So strap in as we run you through the G!RO crash course in outerwear…
Hands and Feet - In our opinion, this is some of the most important advice contained within this blog. Protecting your hands and feet from the elements can save you from some of the most demoralising experiences in cycling. Cold fingers and toes are excruciatingly painful, and undoubtedly miserable, morale crushing problems to face. A good pair of gloves is one of the most valuable bits of kit you can own. Here at G!RO we can vouch for the Attaquer Mid-Winter glove covering you in most cases and we urge anyone in the market for some gloves to grab a pair if you intend to ride through the UK winter. Cycling shoes are designed for hot days, and provide little protection from rain or cold thanks to many vents which keep your feet cool throughout summer. For winter riding, you need something to plug these vents and protect your toes from the elements. Enter the oversock or overshoe; an oversock is exactly as the name suggests, a sock for over your shoe to provide much needed insulation on colder rides. An overshoe, does this, as well as the additional protection from road spray and winter muck. Get yourself one or the other, your toes will thank you later, and you’ll never find yourself at the point of having toes so cold, you consider racking the bike for good.
Arm and Leg Warmers - Awesome little accessories for milder days. Chuck on for an early roll out and keep your arms and legs comfortably warm when it’s not quite shorts and jersey weather. Easily packable, as the sun comes up and the air temperature rises, stuff them in your pocket. You’ll be grateful for them when you stop at the cafe and the blood isn’t pumping as fast.
Neck Warmers - Another G!RO favourite accessory for winter is the Attaquer Neck Warmers we stock; we love the paisley design and with new colours, there’s one to match all outfits and protect your chest and neck from getting too cold. Chilly air can sneak in around the neckline and these rad options offer the best way to prevent this! In 2020 they’ve proven to be multi-function, offering a face covering, which is mandatory for ordering that cafe stop brew in current Covid-19 guidelines! So you may as well make sure your face covering is the envy of all your friends!
So when it comes to layering, learning the art of what you need and when, can make winter riding a lot more pleasurable. Getting it right will help you keep morale high, regardless of how grim it gets. It keeps you racking up those valuable KM’s and away from staring at your wall on the turbo trainer. We hope this little guide can help many of you master their layering and be sure to check out some of the garments linked if you have gaps in your winter wardrobe.
Top Tips when buying winter kit
With a brief lesson in layering still ringing in our ears, it may still feel like a dauntingly difficult task to dress for winter, however, let us simplify it for you with a few key criteria.
Staying dry and warm regardless of the weather.
We love riding in summer because it’s dry and warm, so the simple key to winter riding, is to stay dry and warm! Get your layers right by looking at the forecast and utilising your kit effectively. Pack extra emergency layers like a lightweight gilet or jacket incase you get caught out. Carry in your jersey, or if that’s a pain, grab a bar bag or frame pack to do the job.
When building your winter wardrobe, keep it simple, think warmth and add a few versatile extras that mean you’re covered for all UK weather eventualities. High quality kit is always worth investing in from our experience. Not only will it be more effective, it will last longer and save you money down the line. The high end garments also tend to include the most up to date garment technology, which in the case of winter gear means better waterproofing, and warmer but more breathable kit!
Colour and Sizing
You want your kit to fit snugly, with room for layers if it’s outerwear so shop accordingly and seek advice with regards to sizing if you’re not sure. Aim to stick to a colour theme as well, so you can mix and match all your layers whatever the weather, particularly if you’re a style conscious rider.
Forecasts are your friend
Keep one eye on the weather, choose your layers and pack extras accordingly, so you’re prepared for everything. There’s truly nothing worse than being caught short on a winter ride. We find temperature guidelines (whilst subjective) can be a useful tool to have. They may take some trial and error to dial in, however rules like gloves for anything below 8 degree and tights for anything below 14 degrees can assist you in making effective winter kit choices and something we all do here at G!RO.
Fill the gaps
Caught in a chill with no gloves, leaving your fingers numb, useless and agonisingly cold. Consider it a lesson you won’t forget and note the temperature. Soldier home, fill the gap in your wardrobe and never forget them when it’s set to get that chilly again!
Hot Chocolate is your friend
Cafe stops and warm beverages are a must throughout winter. Take shelter, warm back up, dry out and enjoy a delicious hot drink. A little mini break to work towards when conditions aren’t dreamy. A cafe stop is a great motivator and good for morale! G!RO will be with you throughout winter, providing the goods to keep you going!
What are our favourite bits of kit?!
With our quick guide to layering over, and a few key winter kit criteria covered here’s the winter kit team G!RO can’t live without! The pieces we recommend you dig out of the cupboard or seek out to buy when building your winter wardrobe, and why!
Attaquer Race Jacket - The Ultimate piece of Winter Kit from our mates at Attaquer, once you put this on, you'll never leave the house without it in the winter months! Rain, Snow, Wind, Cold - it protects you from all the UK winter throws at you and has become a staple of G!RO Winter shop rides with all the local crew. A lightweight, aerodynamic soft-shell jacket is comfortable to wear in a huge range of temperatures saving you from all the aforementioned Winter weather worries and keeps you looking on point! All of us here at G!RO recommend this is the one piece you invest in this Autumn to see you through to the Summer!
Attaquer Paisley Neck Warmer - These have been about and ever popular for years now. Every time we have them in the shop, they fly out the door, and it’s easy to see why! The perfect winter accessory to keep the cold air out and look rad rolling about the lane this winter. This season has seen some awesome new colours added and we love the fact that in 2020 they make for the coolest cafe stop Covid face coverings around. A great addition to any winter wardrobe for yourself or as a cheeky gift to a cycling friend!
Attaquer A-Line Packable Gilet - A new addition to the Attaquer outerwear line up, these are ridiculously light and fold into the tiniest pocket parcel for you to stow away. It’s the perfect emergency layer to protect your from wind chill, spray from your riding buddies wheels or a wintery shower. Double zips allow you to quickly regulate body temperature and bolster your gilet flap game for ultimate winter steez!
Attaquer Adventure Bib Shorts - The classic Attaquer all day bib short, reimagined! What’s better than the classic All-Day Bib Short? One that lets you carry more, for those epic adventures! All the comfort and quality of the All-Day Bib Short we all know and love with some added external pockets. Up your adventure game this winter and take the road less travelled with these awesome new Bibs, that will perfectly pair with leg warmers when the temperature drops!
Thanks for reading..
We hope you enjoyed the first part of our guide to winter, head over to the rest of the site to check out some of the kit and add to your winter wardrobe. We hope these handy guides will help you all maximise your winter on the bike. Be sure to drop us a line and let us know how you’re getting on with riding this winter or if you have any questions we may be able to help you out on! Keep up to date with all things G!RO on our various social platforms, like Instagram, Strava and Facebook and be sure to tag us if you stop by! We look forward to seeing you all rack up the most winter miles yet. Happy riding and see you all in the cafe!!