Article by Marcus Meyer
How to do it?
First, of course, you will need a bike. It doesn’t matter too much at the start which one you choose, as long you feel comfortable on it and it is safe. Our Team (Team Shaanxi Hills International a.k.a. team S.H.I.T.) can help you there, starting from choosing your first bike or arranging a rental if you just want to give it a go without making any commitments.
The most important aspect of winter cycling is preparation, which is divided up between having your bike in good condition and being well-dressed for any weather conditions:
The bike should be in good technical conditions, meaning that it should be clean and have working brakes. Usually the roads are more dirty/muddy during the winter, so we recommend cleaning your bike after every ride. It only takes you 5 to 10 minutes, but will help your bike parts lasting much longer and will make the ride feel much better. Fenders or a simple ass saver are also great for keeping you drier. Being visible is also more important in winter, so using lights and some reflective parts is recommended.
Your choice of clothing will make the biggest difference in how much you can enjoy cycling in the winter. Personally, I usually use several layers to stay flexible during my winter training. Shoe covers, long socks (there are even waterproof socks on the market), warm base layers and clothes which include fleece help you keeping warm, even when the temperature go down into the low one digit area. Gloves and a warm cap or bandana can make a huge difference, because we are feeling the cold temperatures most on our hands, feet, and head. As long as these areas are well protected, it’s easy to keep the rest of the body warm. You also warm up after a few minutes on the bike.
What else can help?
When you do rest stops/breaks on your winter ride, make sure to do them anywhere inside or keep the stopping time as short as possible. Cooling down happens quickly and should be avoided. What also helps a lot is to think about the hot shower or nice meal waiting for you at home. This can make the last part of the ride easier. And most important: Cycling with others makes it much more fun.
How to get in touch?
You can add me on WeChat for any cycling related questions and to be invited into our growing group ride chat. We just reached over 100 members in Xi’an and try to meet at least once per week, when not twice, to enjoy some rides together. Our group rides are open for any level of cyclists and everyone is welcome to join.