We have pulled together seven top winter tips to help you enjoy riding your Ribble in the depths of the cold season. Afterall there should be no reason not to ride this winter.
1. Ride the Right Bike
It might seem like it goes without saying but don’t ride your best bike through the winter months. Riding a winter-specific bike will not only protect your pride and joy from the wintery road conditions (think salt and water) but it will also keep you comfortable and allow you to set up a winter bike to match the winter conditions.
It might be the North Western weather but Ribble have always been proud of their winter bikes and we have a selection of bikes designed for use throughout the year.
The CGR has mudguard and pannier mounts and disc brakes for a sure-footed winter workhorse.
When the temperature has dropped close to freezing point consider changing up your training plan to a harder ride. One of the by-products of physical exertion is heat, so increasing the intensity of your ride will increase your body temperature and make the ride more bearable. It will reduce the amount of time you can spend on the bike but you will get in a good work out.
A heart rate monitor and cycling computer are a great way to track the level of effort you’re putting into the ride. We have a great range of cycling computers and accessories that can make all the difference when getting your winter training right.
One of the girls in the office lives at the top of a hill and her ride always starts with a short but sharp descent “you’re freezing before you have even started” she remarks, but it raises an interesting point – when it’s already cold outside the last thing you should to do is get even colder by rolling down the road not exerting any effort in to a cold, bone-chilling wind, especially after a hot and sweaty 5 minute climb.
Mapping your ride out with a good cycling GPS will help you to plan rides on flat roads. You should also consider riding loops closer to home in case the weather really does turn and you end up needing to end the ride earlier than anticipated.
We offer some great deals on Garmins and the fantastic Xplova device is in stock now!
The overall goal of layering is to capture a layer of air (insulation) between each layer of clothing before finalising your fetching ensemble with either a windproof or waterproof layer to regulate your body temperature whilst keeping you dry at the same time.
Base layers are designed to start of this process. A base layer is a layer that sits against the skin, they must trap a small layer of air between your skin and the garment that stays warm but they must also wick away moisture to stop you getting cold and damp.
Mid layers are worn over the top of the base layer, they trap an additional layer of warm air between the base layer and the mid layer and must be breathable. Sometimes a good mid layer like a good soft shell will be your final outer layer.
Cold hands and feet are probably the most frustrating part of being cold, nothing is as bad as feet and hands so cold they hurt but with the right gloves and overshoes, shoes and socks it can be quite easy to overcome.
Gloves– As with clothing, warm hands rely on a combination of technical features. A good winter glove must keep the wind out and have a thermal inner to retain the heat. Check out our range of gloves for more inspiration.
Overshoes – An item of clothing limited to the cycling fraternity the overshoe or over sock is an additional layer of fabric that protects your feet. Put simply, they are a requirement for winter riding.
6. Find a Good Coffee Shop… But Keep Warm When You Stop
We can’t help with finding a good coffee shop but on long and lonely winter rides, sometimes the only way to stay upright and #keeppedalling is to stop and get warm with a hot drink and a slice of cake. However, it’s important to stay warm so consider taking an extra base layer in a waterproof bag in your jersey pocket to change in to.
7. Light The Way
Winter is dark. The clocks go back and having lights on the bike to be seen with and to see with is essential.
There is a legal requirement to ride with both a white front light and a red rear light but its just common sense. Ride with lights and have a spare in just in case.
The day of Vélo Birmingham is getting closer and hopefully you’re feeling confident about covering the 100 mile ride distance comfortably.
If you’ve done a decent amount of training and are looking to be fresh and rested for the ride then you really need to ‘taper’ as the day of the ride approaches.
Tapering is reducing your training and physical activity in the final run-up to your big ride and typically you would do this over the final two weeks and more importantly in the final week.
Mentally it can be difficult to stay off the bike, but remember the hard work has been done and you won’t add any increased fitness in the final week and neither will the resting lose you any fitness. You should aim to get to the start line feeling fully rested and ready to go.
Certainly don’t be tempted to try and cram in last minute training in the final few days before the ride as this would almost certainly leave you tired and stiff on the big day itself. You’re last long ride should be around 7-12 days before the event after which you should start to taper.
Main Reasons to Taper
1 Feel fresh and get out your best performance on the day.
2 Tapering also gives you back some spare time that you can then use to have your bike and kit ready for the big day.
3 Tapering allows you to be fully fuelled nutritionally in the days before the event.
Two Weeks Out
The final two weeks are also the time to ensure your bike is working well – you might want to book it into your local bike shop for a service 12-14 days before the ride so they have time to replace any worn parts and you can have it back in time for your final preparation rides.
Typically you should reduce your amount of training by 20-25%. For example if you’ve been riding for six hours or four times a week in preparation you should aim to reduce that to four hours or three times a week and reduce the intensity or speed of your rides.
The Final Week
Your final week is the time to ensure you’re rested for your big ride and making sure you’re prepared and have eaten well. You can reduce your training further by around 25-30% of your main training level and again reduce the intensity or speed of your rides. Also avoid any unusual activity, sport or any tiring physical activity that might cause aching muscles in the days before the ride.
Do eat well in the final days before the ride.
Don’t use new clothing, particularly shorts or shoes, that you haven’t worn before. Break in any new items as soon as you can so that they don’t cause you any discomfort on ride day.
Final preparations before and on the day
On the day before – it’s useful to get all your kit together and lay out all the items you intend to carry on the ride and make sure they fit snugly into your jersey pockets and/or seat pack.
On the day – if you pre-load with adequate food and hydration and feed on the ride you should get through the 100 miles without any issues. If you do feel the onset of exhaustion whilst cycling, it’s remarkable how having a rest at a feed station or at the side of the road to take on some food and drink will soon get you back on the bike with renewed energy.
Finally, stay relaxed, don’t worry about the ride and, above all, enjoy the day!
Keeping your bike clean and well lubricated will ensure it runs smoothly, quietly and correctly and should save you money in the long run by lessening wear and tear on the drivetrain components in particular.
Never is caring for your bike more important than in poor weather and when you’ve ridden through rain or particularly dirty or dusty conditions, but it should become part of your routine all year round. If you leave dirt to build-up on your bike parts can wear out much quicker and other issues can go unnoticed.
If your bike is really dirty or muddy a water hose may help to clear the worst of it before you tackle the rest. For best results we recommend cleaning in a specific order.
Ribble tip from Head Mechanic Mark: “Be careful if you use a high pressure hose and don’t use it close up. Too much pressure can blast grease out of your bearings and push dirt deeper inside.”
1 Clean the drivetrain first with Chain Cleaners and Degreasers
Much stronger than all-purpose bike cleaners, specific chain cleaners and degreasers help shift oil and residue from your drivetrain (chain, chainset, cassette, jockey wheels). They are great for removing heavy build ups but it is best to avoid areas such as bearings and cables.
The chain can be a messy job, so there are self-contained chain cleaners available which you put degreaser in and then clamp onto your chain. Turning the cranks, as though you were pedalling, then passes the chain through the bath, cleaning it as it moves. A rag is then useful to remove the residue by running the chain through it.
Ribble tip from Head Mechanic Mark: “Make it easier to get in all those awkward places by taking out the wheels, washing them separately, and then ideally washing the rest of the bike in a workstand.”
All-purpose bike cleaners can be used all over your bike but they are particularly recommended for the frame, wheels and tyres. The strength of these cleaning fluids is not particularly strong so they are not used on the drivetrain. Normal domestic detergents can contain abrasive salts so bike-specific cleaners and degreasers are guaranteed to be kinder and more effective on your bike. In the winter a regular clean will also help prevent corrosion from road salt. We prefer to work from the top of the bike downwards with a sponge or soft brush and then dry off with clean rags.
3 Re-apply Lubrication and Grease
Once the bike is dry, it will need lubricant reapplying to the chain and, over time, areas such as the headset may need re-greasing.
Chain lube is put directly onto the chain, and ensures a smooth and quiet running drivetrain. There are three different types of chain lube to consider: Wet Lubes – these are a ‘stickier’ lubricant so that they remain on the chain if the weather is bad. Great for bad weather, but the chain will need cleaning more often as they attract dirt. Dry Lubes – a much thinner lubricant, perfect for when the weather is good. They don’t attract dirt as much, but do get washed off easily if it rains. All purpose – Can be used in all conditions, but do not particularly excel in any one, hence why there are dry and wet lubes.
Check your bike over after cleaning
When your bike is clean is also the ideal time to check it over for any signs of any significant wear and tear or potential issues.
COME AND SEE RIBBLE AT THE NEC CYCLE SHOW AND SAVE 10% ON YOUR TICKETS
Over the last year the Ribble range has been evolving and expanding, we have won awards and received praise from our customers for our exciting bikes and kit.
The annual NEC Cycle Show in Birmingham is one of the occasions where you can touch, feel and admire our complete range and meet and talk to the people behind our bikes, clothing and accessories.
This September at the NEC there will be exclusive first looks of new Ribble bikes and one of the first opportunities to see our new clothing and accessories ranges in the flesh.
Because we want Ribble customers old and new to be part of this we have negotiated discounted tickets with the Cycle Show. You can save 10% on ticket prices using our discount code (RIBBLE) if you book before Thursday 21st September.
We enjoyed meeting you all on the stand twelve months ago, we’ll be in our usual prominent position, and look forward to showing you our exciting new product ranges.
Recently people have asked me “Why did you take up cycling?”
My simple answer would be “for my health”, but let me explain further.
In 2014 I was having a really bad year health wise, the worst I’ve ever had in fact. I’d been in hospital three times and been off sick for nearly a month at a time for every visit plus multiple days off because I simply couldn’t do anything.
I had caught MRSA of the lungs and another bug (the name escapes me at the moment) and just couldn’t shift it or get it under control. The Cystic Fibrosis (CF) that I was diagnosed with at six-months-old was winning.
Another big factor that year was that I was finishing Gene Therapy Trials which I now believe is the reason my lung function had held on for so long because the drugs were helping to my lungs and keep me healthy. In 2013 my lung function had been around 75-80% and gene therapy was doing a really good job, but not long after I had finished the trials I was starting to get sick a lot and my lung function was dropping like a stone and infections were feasting on my lungs like an all you can eat buffet.
By the end of 2014 I was back in hospital for the third time looking for help, looking for answers and getting frustrated with the whole situation. I needed to try to stop my health declining, in hospital I couldn’t breathe and had to be put onto oxygen.
How cycling played its part
I had never felt so ill, so scared and so down mentally let alone physically, this was all new to me. I knew everybody who has CF is different and everybody’s fight is different but this was my first time experiencing this and I was out of my depth thinking I could handle it. I didn’t cope at all, it’s most likely taken me until this year and it was committing to a cycling challenge that played an important part.
It was the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 Ride that got me started in 2015 and this year I want up my game even further to tackle an Olympic distance triathlon with the help of Ribble.
During that lowest point three years ago, I sat with the doctor and said, “Once this admission is done I’m going to go away and assess things. I’m going to prove you wrong that this isn’t going to carry on and that I can help my health and my diabetes, if there’s no more that you can do, I want a go at trying something different”. I appreciated that the doctors were trying to help but I think my mindset was that “I’m going to take things into my own hands and I feel this is something I need to do, if the drugs can’t help then let me find out if I can do something”.
But what would I try?!
I had been looking into big, physical challenges where I could maybe try and see if that helped my health. I’d thought about the London marathon but, I didn’t think I could cope with running that distance with my weak left leg. What about a shorter distance? What about walking up a mountain like Kilimanjaro? I had been wanting to go there for a while but I had to be realistic. With 50% lung function walking up a mountain with the lack of air becoming more and more apparent – I wasn’t sure. What could I do?
I could cycle? I could do that. I liked cycling and I could go as fast or as slow as I wanted and it wouldn’t put too much pressure on me (well so I thought, how wrong I was!)
SO cycling it was. It had to be something big, something I would remember forever and know that I had done it starting from nothing. It had to be something I could say to the doctors “See I did it. Two fingers to your complacency”. I was trawling the internet and came across something that caught my eye.
The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100
I came across this ride in simple terms its 100 miles on closed roads through beautiful London and surrey countryside taking in the sights of world famous London. I mean 100 miles is big enough for the challenge to be big, catch people’s attention and maybe few a few pennies for the CF Trust. But firstly I needed a bike.
I was fortunate enough that my partner at the time offered to buy me a bike for my birthday (thank you) in November 2014. It wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t a carbon fibre, ‘go fast’ bike, but it was mine. My bike that I hoped would pedal me to great things. I had no idea how far it would take me and what challenges I would achieve, but I loved this bike from the first day I picked it up.
Starting to ride and falling in love with cycling
I went for my first bike ride a few days later (the picture above is me after my first ride) and it shocked me. I managed a measly six miles, just six miles and I was beat exhausted and my lungs hated me, but I had the bug, I knew I wanted to do this. I fell in love with cycling straight away, Lycra isn’t a fashion statement but knowing your dressed in it sort of gives me a sense of pride because I know I want to achieve something whilst dressed in my cycling gear. Over time I put my training gear on and I know I’m doing it for a purpose, to stay fit, to show others what’s possible and to help the CF trust and hopefully the money raised with help of you lovely people has helped made a difference to others in some way no matter how small.
That day I signed up to the RideLondon-Surrey 100 with the CF Trust and the rest as they say is history.
Since January 2015 I have cycled about 7000 miles and I’ve completed:
RideLondon-Surrey 100 Bike Ride 2015
KM Bike Big Ride 50km 2016
London To Brighton 55 mile bike ride 2016
And I’ve managed to raise around £3,500.00 for the CF trust along the way.
Reaping the benefits
Since I started training at the end of 2014 my hospital fortunes and health have stabilised. I wouldn’t say its improved as such as my lung function hasn’t improved since 2015 but it has most certainly slowed down in its declined and stabilised at around 50 to 55% for the last two and a half years. I am the fittest I’ve ever been even with my lung function and I’m still smiling look ahead to the future and what other challenges I can take on. I won’t lie, it’s been bleeding hard there been days still when I’ve not been able to do anything and my CF has affected me even on good days, but I feel better mentally knowing I’d rather be in pain training than be in pain in hospital or coughing. All the miles, pain, tears and falls have all been worth it.
Since 2015 my hospital visits have decreased massively with two admissions in January 2015 and September 2015. And that is the last time I was admitted to hospital for IV Treatment it’s been 21 months since I had a stay in hospital. It’s not been easy I’ve pushed myself like mad, I’ve still been really sick at times and I’ve still had infections and other problems and bugs have taken their toll on me at time and I’ve swallowed a lot of tablets to fend off sickness but I haven’t had to stay in hospital.
Positive effects of training
All the training has also had a positive effect on my diabetes. I now have much lower levels which I’m still working on to improve and I’ve got it under control and by having a good diabetes control it helps my chest and reduce infections because infections feed off sugar and can turn in to a vicious cycle of problems.
And now you know why I took up cycling, that’s the long and short answer but without deciding to get on two wheels and put my feet on the pedals I have no doubt I would be in that terrible place I had feared two years ago getting more and more used to hospital beds and going insane because I just wouldn’t cope. Thanks to cycling and maybe my stubbornness to prove people wrong, I’m here talking walking and still breathing through my lungs without any further grief.
And what next in 2017?
It had to be another big challenge. I felt it had to be a triathlon, an Olympic distance to be exact. On the 24th September 2017 I’m taking part in the Hever Castle Olympic distance Triathlon to in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust:
1500m swim + 40km bike ride + 10km run
One after the other, all in one go.
Thank you Ribble
I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to Ribble Cycles, I wrote to them this year asking if they could help me at all in lending me a bike and they went above and beyond what I expected. They kindly offered to give me a new bike to help me complete this challenge and my future challenges that I want to take on. The day I visited their new shop in the Birmingham Mailbox was amazing. They are all so lovely, so supportive and couldn’t be any nicer. Their offer of support will never go unappreciated, they have inspired me to keep pushing and wanting to achieve more. Without their help I could never have got a bike like this. So thank you thank you thank you to everyone at Ribble. You are all amazing for helping me and supporting me on this journey and I will forever be in your debt.
Triathlon training commences
I started training in in about October last year nothing too serious, the odd ride, the odd run but I didn’t start swimming until January this year and that’s when I started really upping my training and thinking seriously about attempting a Triathlon. I knew this would be big. The biggest challenge I’ve ever attempted. Hardest thing I’ve ever wanted to finish and the pain and training hasn’t disappointed in challenging me and making me doubt myself that’s for sure.
Training for this has been a whole different world to just biking and it’s getting harder every day. I’m swimming twice a week running twice a week and cycling twice a week plus doing short exercise at home. And not small distances either. I’m now swimming two to three miles every week, cycling 50 miles per week and running about 10km a week at present, I know that may not sound like a lot but I’m still learning still improving and still increasing my distances.
First a Sprint Triathlon
And so far I have managed to complete a sprint Triathlon in April as a practice run but that is nothing compared to the big one and I learnt a lot from that, mostly how hard and painful it is and that was only 250m swim 10 mile bike ride and 3 mile run. That is nothing compared to what I want to attempt.
I now have approximately a dozen weeks to keep training improving and hopefully dodging hospital until the big day. It’s already tough but I’ll write again soon about training progress.
What’s pushing me through this training is my health, my stubbornness and wanting to raise awareness and funds for the CF Trust. This is what inspires me to keep pushing.