Over the years I have become something of an evangelist when it comes to cycling and take any opportunity to extol the virtues of cycling to work. And yes before you ask, I am fun at parties. When I am finished my sermon I tend to get a variation of the same replies and I want to take this opportunity to deal with these and hopefully to debunk some myths when it comes to cycling to work.
Talking about the weather is a British past time. We talk about it because of its mercurial, unpredictable nature. The four seasons don’t really apply to this island and instead we have a mild dampness that tends to erode any memories of sunshine. And Scotland is even worse! I exaggerate of course but the overwhelming feeling is that it just rains too much to make cycling enjoyable. I get it. No one wants to turn up to work looking like a drowned rat, rain dripping off the brow as you give that important presentation and if you don’t have showering facilities at work then how is it feasible.
Honestly though it really doesn’t rain as much as you think it does. Becoming a cyclist not only hones your physical attributes but you also become somewhat of a part time meteorologist, studying the wind and the rain and I was surprised when I started cycling to and from work at how little I got wet.
As the great Billy Connolly said; “there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes” and this is applicable to cycling. I wear lycra for my commute as I tend to treat my riding as training (and I like the way it looks) but I don’t specifically use waterproofs on the days when it rains. Once I am wet, I am wet and just deal with it for the short ride. In fact I embrace the weather and wonder what the people stuck in cars must think of me.
Mud guards and winter cycling go hand-in-hand although there is a certain portion of the cycling community that frowns upon the use of mud guards. This is merely based on an aesthetic argument and it is hard to argue with the point that they certainly do nothing to improve the look of a lovely carbon road bike but that misses the point about cycling through winter. I use a bike that is five years old for pretty much all my winter cycling and certainly for my commuting. Despite the constant abuse that it gets it is still in perfect working order (so much so that my Dad keeps asking if he can have it) thanks to being able to maintain it over the years. It has a steel frame and eyelets for mudguards so all in all it is made to ride through bad weather. If you only have one bike then I would suggest seeking out a cheap bike to use in winter. I know some of my friends have been very successful in getting a winter road bike in the second hand market and then slightly upgrading components as required. I love the fact that I can cycle through all conditions knowing that in my garage my lovely carbon racer is well looked after, ready for the better weather.
Now it goes without saying that mud guards are not going to stop you getting wet in a rain shower but they really come into their own when there is surface water as it stops this from kicking up and onto you. I was always slightly dubious when people were extolling the virtues of mud guards but since using them I am fully converted.
An important point about cycling in winter is that you have to be prepared to maintain your bike more regularly than you would in the summer months. The salt on the roads in winter will wreak havoc on your drive train so invest in a decent degreaser and at least once a week give it a good clean before re-lubing with a win
ter specific lubricant. As I said before, this bike has lasted five years through the Scottish winters and that is testament to the care I put into maintaining it regularly.
What is the worst thing about commuting in the rain? Having to put on wet lycra again at the end of the day for the commute home!