Who knows if there will still be snow by the time I finish writing this. I don’t know, I thought being off for Christmas would give me more time, not less, for getting some blog posts done.

Anyway, some thoughts on winter cycling:

  • Taping up toe-clips so you can wear boots. Your feet are going to be down a lot (also lots of getting on and off for me because of cars and narrow country lanes, made more narrow by the snow). No good having all that lovely grip from tyres only to fall over when you get off because of slippery soled trainers. Using clipless would be insanity.

  • Removing back brakes to prevent snow build up - usually I’d say you want the back brake more (than the front) in winter. Last winter I replaced my (700c) front wheel with a mountain bike wheel so I had a bit of grip (I had slicks otherwise) and so didn’t have a front brake and relied on the back and fixed gearing. However, as long as you have studded tyres (so you can use your front brake) and a fixed gear bike then you can remove your rear brake. But you’ll still get snow build up at the front.

  • Studded Tyres. Schwalbe Marathon Winters. These are good tyres. Very good tyres. They are a compromise, but a good one. When the snow is deep or really churned then the tread depth is lacking and it is hard going, but on fresh snow or sheet ice they are just fantastic. And with the crazy stupid weather we have where it can go from 15cm of snow to completely thawed and back again over a few days these tyres are the best bet. On normal road surfaces they are pretty nippy once you get them up to speed. I’ve done over a 1000 miles on them and lost about 3 studs.

  • Using 35c tyres on 13mm rims. Well, I did say I was going to have to do it. I wouldn’t recommend it. I had a rear tyre blow-out after about 270 miles, which meant a lovely 6 mile walk into work in the rain and wind. But since then, so far so good. I don’t know for sure that the rim size mismatch was the cause, but I reckon it was a lot to do with it. It could have been triggered by the rear brake blocks rubbing on the tyre (since removed, see above), it could have been the insanely high winds I was leaning in to (bike wheels would have been at very odd angles and constantly switching from side to side), but a wider rim would have been more likely to keep the tyre on. So, it’s a risk and that’s why people don’t do it.

  • Gloves. Heated. I am convinced there is no point mucking about with anything else. Unfortunately I don’t have the cash (next year!) and so the best I’ve done is clingfilm around the fingers of my liner gloves (some PPE manual handling gloves from work) which I then wear in the cheap Thinsulate gloves I got from TK Maxx.