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How to Avoid Two Common Winter Cycling Hazards

Do you enjoy winter cycling?

If your answer is yes then this article is for you.

But even if you do not enjoy winter cycling, you probably have loved ones or friends who enjoy winter cycling.

The article will still be of immense value to you for it would help you learn how to advise them on how to keep safe while enjoying winter cycling.

For the many enthusiasts who enjoy winter cycling, they can keep safe if they have the knowledge and observe the procedures which ensure the safety of their rides. Read the Body Gear Guide on spinning bikes.

As for the inexperienced winter cyclist, riding in sub-freezing temperatures can be quite dangerous.

We shall examine two of the commonest winter riding hazards and provide some pieces of advice on how they can be avoided while riding in a harsh wintery atmosphere.

  1. Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a major concern when riding in wintery months.

Hypothermia is caused by the lowering of the core body temperature.

The weather condition does not need to become freezing before an individual gets hypothermia.

A major cause of this condition is improper dressing.

Your mode of dressing should be dictated by the weather or atmospheric condition.

If the piece of clothing worn cannot keep moisture away from the skin, there is the likelihood of suffering hypothermia.

The cold air blowing onto the wet skin usually leads to the lowering of core body temperature.

Uncontrollable shivering, confusion, and slurred speech are some of the symptoms of hypothermia.

If the core body temperature continues to reduce, the symptoms become severe and life threatening.

  1. Frostbite

Frostbite is an injury mostly caused by inadequate preparations.

Frostbite refers to the actual freezing of the skin.

The face, fingers, and toes are the most vulnerable aspects.

Early symptoms

Early symptoms of frostbite of the fingers or toes include numbness and a tingling feeling.

If it is the ears, nose, and cheeks that are affected, a burning sensation will be felt by the sufferer.

A severe frostbite usually requires surgery to remove the affected part of the skin.

To prevent frostbite, you only need do the same thing you do to prevent hypothermia, you dress properly.

Ensure all body parts are well covered with one item of clothing or the other—leave no part of your body carelessly exposed.

Winter Cycling revs up a dilemma because the cycling exercise usually requires lightweight clothing material and clothing that does not hinder movement of the muscles and body parts yet one cannot afford to expose their body to hazards caused by harsh weather conditions.

Dressing like an Eskimo should keep the rider warm and protected but it is not practical for cycling.

It is often a difficult matter getting the appropriate clothing dialed in.

The availability of different clothing material is therefore pertinent in order to ensure proper protection.

The first and major priority is to ensure the normality of core body temperature in order to avoid hypothermia.

Layering is the best solution to this problem.

Most riders use two or three layers depending on the temperature.

A rider might start with two layers and end with three layers or vice versa.

It is therefore important to carry a backpack which would be used to keep extra clothing along with other items.

Ensure that the base layer next to skin is a material designed to keep moisture away from the skin, this is most important.

There are several brands and designs of materials made specifically for cold weather athletics.

There are even cycling jerseys made specially for the purpose of cycling in cold weather.

It is highly recommended that this type of jersey be used in a winter weight.

The outer layer should be a wind and water proof jacket specially designed for activities like cycling.

A good jacket should have zippered vents which allows for temperature adjustments.

One of the major problems amateur riders have in cold weather is overdressing.

This leaves them with no means of making adjustments during the ride.

The resultant effect is that it causes overheating and then much sweating which could still lead to hypothermia.

Where the rider is unsure, he or she should stand outside for, at least 15 minutes, before the ride.

If the rider feels totally warm after 15 minutes of standing outside in the cold weather, then the rider is overdressed.

The rider should feel a little cold but not to the point of becoming uncomfortable.

To keep the core body warm (but not too warm), any combination of the three layers described earlier may be employed to ensure proper dressing.

Susceptibility of the clothing material to adjustments is quite pertinent, especially on long 4 hours rides in wintery months.

A balaclava designed with the moisture wicking technology can be used to protect the head, face, and ears.

A knitted cap over the balaclava can also be added, provided it fits beneath the helmets, it all depends on the temperature level.

Other items needed for winter cycling include:

  1. Wind Proof Gloves: The normal cycling gloves are inadequate for winter riding. Ski gloves are an appropriate choice if they permit shifting and braking without effort.
  2. Ski Googles: It is important to keep your eye protected all year round, especially during wintery months.

While normal riding glasses are good, ski googles can be quite effective when the temperature becomes too cold.

  1. Neoprene Booties: As for the feet, layering is very important.

A thin moisture wicking material can be used for the base layer.

Then an insulating wool layer can be used as an outer layer.

Neoprene booties are preferred by many riders because it helps block the wind.

  1. Chemical Warmers: Always go with chemical warmers for the hands and feet.

They are inexpensive and work for long hours.

All these constitute the basics of proper protection for cyclists in sub-freezing temperatures.

Nonetheless, wintery months can come with various other hazards aside the two mentioned above.

Where you are unsure, kindly seek advice and ride with an experienced rider who can teach you more about safe winter riding.

You can obtain some of these information from your local bike shop.

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Isabella Fernandez is a Physical Health Education instructor and has taught the subject at three different high schools for over a period of ten years now.

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