Dilemma’s of Winter Cycling

One of the great dilemmas of winter cycling – when to stop riding your summer bike.

On a long ride, you prefer having your fastest, lightest road bike. So as long as possible, I try riding my summer racing bike. The problem is that:

  • It’s painful to see your best bike terribly splattered with mud.
  • When I see the white bike covered in mud, I’m not comfortable unless I clean it. A winter training bike, by contrast, can accumulate as much mud as you dare.
  • When riding your top racing bike, in the back of your mind, you’re always thinking about the cost of replacing those Dura Ace components worn down by muddy roads.

Generally, I keep the summer bike, until the roads start to be gritted. That’s when the gears will get a real battering. Also, if I go out on a group ride, I will want to ride mudguards, unless the roads are super dry. For a few weeks, I tend to fudge the issue. Riding best bike on very long rides, if the roads are dry, switching to winter training bike, when it gets wet.


Winter training bike, looking suspiciously clean.

When I was young, my mum always told me if you wear a coat inside – ‘you won’t feel the benefit’ when you go out into the cold.

I never quite understood that, I guess there’s a similar analogy to winter cycling. Ride a slow heavy winter training bike with mudguards, armadillo tyres, anad 3kg of extra weight. Then come the racing season, you’ll really feel the benefit of getting on a faster bike. Perhaps that’s why Bradley Wiggins did so well in the Tour de France this year – Team Sky made him do his winter training on a cheap Ammaco hybrid bike from Cycle King.

On a more serious note, one important thing to look out for is making sure the set up between summer and winter bike is the same. – especially saddle height.


Not often I stop to take photos in winter. But, this sunset made the late afternoon ride worthwhile

Other Great Dilemmas of Winter Cycling

  • How much rain and cold are necessary for turbo training to be preferable to riding in the open air?
  • What is the optimal length of your winter break (1 day, five weeks or the period Nov – Feb)?
  • Is it good to stop in a cafe?
  • What is the optimal weight gain over Christmas? (no practical experience of this one, I’m afraid. Jan Ullrich is the man to ask)
  • Is it better to set off early in morning when its dark and cold or finish in late afternoon, when it’s cold and dark?



4 Responses to Dilemma’s of Winter Cycling

  1. harry November 14, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    1. Prefer to go in the rain than turbo
    2. 2 weeks if that, cant wait to get back out there
    3. nothing wrong with a good cafe stop on a 60mile+ ride
    4. loose weight over winter while there are no the stresses of racing
    5. Early morning get all the excercise done early you feel great about it and it doesnt split the day up

  2. sm November 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Answers to the other dilemmas:

    1) Never!
    2) 2 months this year – I’m not a racer and I’m not mad enough to cycle all year long (commute aside)
    3) Yes – but I never do – prefer to keep on keeping on
    4) As much as possible – you’ll feel great losing it again!
    5) Early morning every time (less traffic and more animals!)

    • tejvan November 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

      4) As much as possible – you’ll feel great losing it again! – nice answer

  3. Downfader November 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I’ll be honest, when you get a really nice winter bike you end up riding it all year around. Mudguards and all.

    I got myself a TK2 frame a couple of years back and its such a lovely ride I use it all year around. My other bike doesnt get the look-in it should.

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