caption: Russell from NoCar Cargo gives winter riding the thumbs up
Cycling through winter
Winter is coming, but that's no reason to leave the bike at home. You can still enjoy the convenience, savings, health gains and fun of riding a bike, whatever the weather.
Sooner or later, everyone is faced with riding in the rain. With a little knowledge and the right gear, spinning through showers can actually be an enjoyable experience.
Shorter days mean you need to make sure your lights are charged and bright. Rain and glare from car headlights reduce motorists' vision, so ride with bright LED lights. White at the front, red at the rear. Use flash mode even during the day to help people see you. Make sure you dip your front light to avoid blinding others. Add reflective tape to your bike and helmet.
Wellington: Your workplace or school can get free, professional bike skills training from Pedal Ready
Elsewhere: ask your Council if they provide access to cycle skills training.
Dress to stay dry
A waterproof jacket with a long tail and a hood is critical for heavy rain. Keep warm. Wear merino next to your skin and wool socks. Cover your shoes with neoprene booties. Use rain pants and full fingered water and wind-resistant gloves.
In low light, use clear or yellow lenses to protect your eyes. If you are having trouble seeing, a cycling cap under your helmet will shield some of the rain and road spray from your face.
Watch for rainbow patches
The road will be most slippery just after the rain has begun. Rain causes the oil buildup on the road to rise to the surface. Keep an eye out for rainbow oily patches on the road. Avoid the centre of the road, as this is where cars drip oil. Look for slippery metal surfaces such as service covers, painted traffic markings, or wet leaves.
Check your brake pads
A mixture of road grit and water can wear your brake pads. Most rims require a full revolution before the brakes wipe the water from the braking surface and begin stopping. Plan ahead and brake early. Or upgrade to a bike with disc brakes. You know you want to.
Install mudguards on both wheels. It will double your comfort factor and keep your vision crystal clear. You can get clip-on mudguards to fit any bike. Mudguards also means a drier ride for the cyclist behind you.
Get a rain bike
Really, are you going to trash your favourite bike? Invest in a dedicated rain bike, fitted with mudguards, disc brakes and powerful lights. N+1.
New Zealand's varied climate makes cycling possible at any time of the year. The best time across the board is around March and April when the heat of summer has abated, the holiday crowds have waned and much of the country experiences its lowest rainfalls and calmest conditions.
Summer cycling which is the current season is excellent on rides such as the West Coast Wilderness Trail on the South Island's West Coast, and the Queenstown Trail and Around the Mountains in the south. Winter on the other hand can be beautiful and comfortable around parts of the North Island, especially Northland, where you'll find the Twin Coast Trail, and rides near the Coromandel Peninsula such as the Hauraki Rail Trail.
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