Dressing for winter cycling
Oct 29, 2009, 18:56 GMT
Not quite winter but late autumn with it getting dark in Scotland around 5pm. A reflector on the front of the bike plus a flashing light and much bigger 960 lumen "Exposure MaXx Daddy" off-road light (switched off for photo). The helmet also has a reflective band around it. This mountain bike does not have reflective pedals so the rider has a reflective band around his ankle, something moving shows up much better for motorists. Photo Copyright Monsters and Critics.
Hamburg - The days when bicycles were used primarily in the summer when people had free time have been over for a long time.
Today bicycles are a means of transportation used by many people almost daily for getting around. This is partly because people want to save money and partly because they enjoy the health benefits of regular cycling.
But there's a catch: In the winter when it's very cold outside the cyclist has to choose clothing that ensures he arrives at his destination neither freezing nor drenched in sweat. Cycling outerwear also should protect the cyclist in wind and bad weather and include a reflective quality to make sure drivers can see him or her when it's dark.
A tip for dressing in the wintertime that has been accepted for years and still makes sense today is the onion principle, or dressing in layers. The garment worn closest to the skin should be able to transfer moisture away from the body because cyclists sweat even in cold weather. This helps avoid colds. The second layer has the job of preventing the cyclist from getting cold and also of transferring moisture away from the body. Fleece is a suitable material for the second layer. The third layer is for weather protection.
The onion principle has other merits. Above all, the small air shafts between the layers provide an insulating effect, said Siegfried Neuberger of a German cycling industry association. Another advantage is that cyclists dressed in several layers can quickly adjust to a change in the temperature. If it becomes too warm, they can remove a layer, and if it gets colder, they can add one.
When selecting the garment to be worn on the outside, cyclists should choose one made from a modern textile. In the winter it's not only important that cold is kept away from the body, clothing should also keep out rain and snow so that the cyclist doesn't arrive at his destination completely soaked.
Protection from rain, however, shouldn't end with a cover for the upper body. Bettina Cibulski of Germany's bicycle association in Bremen advises cyclists to take along rain pants that can be worn in the event of an unexpected shower. Shoes and feet also should be protected by special rain shoes for cyclists. These can be found at cycling shops, said Cibulski.
Protecting hands and fingers also is important for cyclists in the winter. It's not just about keeping them warm, but also about ensuring they remain mobile so they can operate the brakes and gears without any problem. Every cyclists has to decide for himself what type of gloves are best for him. As a rule, mittens are warmer, but restrict movement. The opposite is true of gloves.
Shoes should also protect against cold as much as possible. Another area that shouldn't be overlooked is the sole of the shoe. In wet weather or snow, the sole also gets wet. It's important that it has some treads to prevent the feet slipping off the pedals.
Colour is also an important consideration. The traditional colours of the fall and winter seasons are muted. Dark browns and black are common. But dark colours don't contribute to safety in traffic. Even when the bicycle has a complete set of lights and reflectors, light coloured clothing make the cyclist more visible on the road.
Even better on especially low-visibility winter days are jackets or other garments that have reflective material sewn into them. It's not unusual for cyclists these days to improve their own safety by attaching blinking battery-operated lights to their backpack or jacket.