You’ve read Gearing up for winter (part one) and Gearing up for winter (part two) and are wondering, what about us mountain bikers. Well, CycleHouse have not forgot about you. Oh no, so here’s an extra little guide to surviving the winter on the mountain bike.
Mudguards? On a mountain bike? Sacrilege some will scream, but they do keep most of the mud and spray off, and we all like to be warm and dry don’t we. It wont be news to most, but Crud Guards are just the ticket (and if you’ve bought a Whyte bicycle, good news, these fit like a dream on the down tube). Give them a try this winter, we promise you wont be disappointed, they’ll also help to protect that rather expensive dropper post you’ve invested in. Ass -savers and such like are also handy to have, they are small pieces of plastic that attach to the seat and keep the worst of the mud of you.
A firm favourite by the staff at CycleHouse whilst mountain biking are waterproof shorts. Surprsingly, they offer great protection from the rain and if you’re not a fan of the mud guard look, are a great alternative. I’ll wear mine from Endura for about 9 months of the year, they keep the rest of my kit dry from spray and mud free. They are also convenient at the end of the ride to take off and ‘jump straight into the car’.
The extremities often get neglected by mountain bikers, so why not add a neck warmer or roubaix cap to your Christmas list, or even a nice pair of merino wool socks. The neck warmers will block out those biting winds, stop rain from trickling down your neck and they can be turned into a skull cap. The merino wool socks will be warmer than those thin, synthetic summer socks and are good at staying warm whilst wet. Mountain bike specific over-shoes are worth having providing your route does not have too much hike-a-bike and the of course, the Endura Deluge gloves will keep your hands dry and toasty even on the coldest of days on the hills. In really horrible weather, I can several several pairs of gloves with me and swap over to a dry pair mid-ride, it’s a great morale boost.
When it’s really cold or cafe stops have been planned, I always carry a spare insulating layer. Think synthetic down and you wont be far off, the Endura Urban Jacket is great to store in your bag whilst riding and put on at the cafe stop, end of a ride or when your mate has a puncture. They are particularly useful whilst out in the hills and you can put these on during snack stops (the jackets are slightly over-sized, designed to put put straight over the clothing you are already wearing). As a side note, a flask of coffee can do wonders on those cold, baltic days, Lifeventure flasks are particuly good too (ask in-store for details).
Night riding sounds daunting at first but it’s a great way of ‘getting in’ a mid week ride or extending a ride during the day. It can also make you existing trails more exciting as you can’t see every part of the trail. With so many lights on the market, it’s difficult to know what to buy but as a rough guide, 400 lumens (as a measure of light output) is the minimal you will need. Sure, you can get away with less but we’re being sensible. Most mountain bikers wont use a rear light as it’s a distraction for other riders behind, but make sure you carry one for these for road link up sections. A lot of mountain bikers will only ride at night with at least one other person, if something goes wrong there is someone to help you out. If you do go out solo, it is worth leaving a mountaineers route card with someone reliable and then if you’re late back, the correct information and procedure will be on hand.
Don’t forget bicycle maintenance either, a clean bicycle is always nicer to ride. It also helps you to identify bolts that need tightening up and inspect the frame for wear. Don’t forget that mud can add a lot of weight to a bicycle and also cause premature wear on components, so it’s worth doing. Thankfully Muc Off and Finish Line have a range of products to speed up the process of cleaning and lubing, but please, do not jet wash your bicycle!
Of course, we at CycleHouse can always service your bicycle for you, tighten up bolts and replace worn parts, inspect brake pads and cables.