Gearing Up for
Warmer days are just around the corner! Here’s some tips to help you seize the season.
Joyriders, mark your calendars! On 20th March 2023, it will officially be spring again.
Of course, the date itself is a bit arbitrary. We’re already way past the winter solstice, which means those long, dark nights – the ones that settle in by 4 pm – have already given way to longer, lighter days. Blackbirds are singing in treetops. Buds are starting to blossom. And, every day, there’s a few extra minutes of light.
For cyclists, spring holds a whole world of riding opportunities. Along with all the extra daylight to enjoy, the warmer temperatures and (slightly) dryer weather give all those water-logged trails a chance to dry out – so you can return to your favourite rides without getting splattered with mud. And, even better, you can do it without being weighed down by fifty different layers. Huzzah!
Whether you tucked your bike away for winter or you’ve been donning extra layers and riding your way through the cold season, now’s the perfect time to start spending some more hours on your saddle. So, with that in mind, here’s a little inspiration to get you started.
Check Your Bike’s in Good Working Order
Before you set off on those epic spring adventures, it’s important to check your bike over to make sure it’s safe to ride – especially if it’s been in the garage for a while. Not only will this help keep you safe on the road (or the trail), but it’ll make sure your bike stays in tip-top condition for years to come.
For a quick safety check, start with your ABCs – that’s your air pressure, brakes and chain. First off, make sure that your tires have enough air in them. The best way to do this is with a pressure gauge, making sure the number on the gauge matches the figure on your tire’s sidewall. For brakes, check that they’re clean and free from dirt, then give the levers a squeeze and push your bike forwards. If the wheel doesn’t turn, you’re all good! Lastly, make sure your chain is clean and lubricated, keeping an eye out for any signs of rust or stiff links. When you rotate the pedals backwards, the chain should make a regular clicking sound.
If your bike gets lots of use – or, conversely, it’s been a while since you used it – it might be a good idea to give your bike a full service. You can do this yourself (we’ve got a handy beginner’s maintenance guide here), or you can book it in for a service at your local bike repair shop.
Dress the Part
When it comes to weather, spring is a famously fickle time. Temperatures vary wildly, snow and frost can linger unexpectedly, and a sunny day can turn stormy in seconds. Which means, no matter how promising the weather looks, you’ll need to be ready for anything.
The best way to battle unpredictable spring temperatures is layers. While you hopefully won’t need your thick winter coat, make sure you’ve got a good base layer and a waterproof jacket on hand to keep the chill out. Extra layers like leggings, a hat, a fleece and a pair of thick socks can also be handy for those slightly cooler days. Basically, anything that can be stripped off and stashed in your rucksack is a winner.
Discover Some New Routes…
Now those cold, blustery days are largely behind you, you can start spending a little longer on your bike – and maybe even find some brand-new routes. Are there any paths and trails near you that you haven’t explored yet? Is there a longer, more scenic route to the office you haven’t tried? Could you take a left instead of a right?
If it feels like you and your bike have already tackled all the local paths, consider exploring further afield. Take a drive or grab a train to somewhere you’ve never been, whether that’s a national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), or just a patch of woodland. You could also check online journey planners and cycling forums to see what routes local riders have discovered, or join a club and head off on some group rides.
Psst! For more route inspiration, check out The National Cycle Network.
…or revisit some old ones!
If you haven’t ridden in a while, exploring new routes can feel a little daunting. While you settle into the season, why not take a ride down memory lane? Whether it’s a route that was too weather-beaten in winter or an old favourite you haven’t made time for in a while, revisiting familiar paths is a great way to get back into riding.
Even if you’ve been riding these old routes all through winter, it’s important to remember that nothing stays the same – especially in nature. Trees grow and blossom, rivers swell and ebb, animals emerge from hibernation. No matter how many times you look, there’s always something new to see.
Which leads us perfectly on to our next tip for you this spring…
Watch the Seasons Change
Spring is one of the most exciting times of the year – not least because it follows a season of cold and dark. On your rides, try to take notes of the changes around you as the new season takes hold. Some things you might be able to spot around this time are snowdrops, bluebells and wild garlic. Oh, and birdsong. You’ll get an absolute earful of that.
Spring watching works especially well if you can find the time to head out for a ride every day, or at least a couple of times a week. That way, you can watch these changes as they happen. Ducklings will start appearing in ponds. Trees in bud will suddenly explode into blossoms. A formerly bare patch of grass will be chock-full of daffodils. Just remember to slow down every once in a while to see it all!
Lighter nights are well and truly on their way. Get ready, joyriders.