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British Cycling: Cycling through the Winter

British Cycling: Cycling through the Winter

With over 30,000 miles of commuting over the past five winters under his wheels, British Cycling Manager Terry Greenwood rides to and from work every day. Follow his top tips for keeping warm and dry on your commute no matter what the winter throws up.


Mudguards are a must for helping to prevent spray from the road going onto your feet and backside and chilling you. You can also make a real difference to how cold your hands get by using thicker spongy bar tape, or double wrapping to insulate you more from the cold metal bars. Pack metal tyre levers, as the plastic ones can snap if it’s really cold and be careful using CO2 canisters as they can easily freeze to already-cold hands.


The key is to prevent cold air from getting in and keep warm air from getting out. The best way to do this is to wear a thin pair of ankle socks as a baselayer and a tightly textured pair of wooly socks over the top. While not likely to feature in your average kit guide, Army and Navy-issue long socks are Terry’s choice. A really good trick, he says, is to get an oversize pair and run them through the tumble dryer. This shrinks them to the right size and compresses the fibres in the material to prevent warm air from escaping. Shoes need to be big enough to accommodate whatever winter socks are being worn and not inhibit blood flow. If it’s wet, overshoes are a must. These need to be totally waterproof (rubberised neoprene is a favourite) and it’s important to make sure the bottom of your tights goes over the top of the overshoe, or water will just rundown your leg and into your shoe.


Make sure your socks come high up your calf in the winter and don’t leave a gap at your ankles. If there’s a gap, cold air will cool the blood running to your feet. Two layers on your legs is sufficient. The idea is to trap warm air in and keep cold air out. Skiing long-johns with windproof bib-tights over the top is an ideal combination. Mountain biking long tights with a bit of padding down the side can provide a bit of extra insulation too. Leg warmers are good for mixed days as you can whip them off if you get too hot.


It’s less likely that your torso will get as cold as your extremities, so you don’t need to overdo body layers. A baselayer and a wind or waterproof outer shell is normally enough. On a particularly cold day, Terry opts for a skin-suit as a baselayer to provide full body coverage with no gaps. It is important to make sure your final shell layer is reasonably tight, so it’s not flapping around and losing valuable warm air. Everything should be compressed into a compact, insulating package. If you need to wear a waterproof, make sure that it’s not too thick, has elasticated cuffs and breathes well. Some jackets even fit over the top of your rucksack, keeping your lunch, laptop and cleanly laundered clothes protected from the elements.

For more tips on winter commuting, including how to keep your face and neck warm, plus advice on fuelling and pacing, head over to the British Cycling Insight Zone

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