That time is upon us again, the time we all dread, the time we hope won’t arrive because it can just feel IMPOSSIBLE to do even the smallest of things... Some call it the January blues, some call it the Winter blues. However you like to refer to this period of zero daylight, dampness, grey trees and existential crises, know that it is a very real feeling and unfortunately, unless we follow the sun around the world, we can not avoid it.
If you are reading this then we can only assume that you are also in love with a bike, and the prospect of not being able to ride it as much during winter gives you the heebie jeebies? Fear not, Shred Like a Girl has got your back. We have some top tips to keep you on your bike this winter and for those days when it just feels too much, some ideas to boost those feel good vibes and have you reveling during this long month.
Where can I ride my MTB in winter?
One of the first questions that might spring to mind when considering braving the winter is where can you ride? Wherever you normally ride we say. Claggy wheels may become an issue if the trail doesn’t like the winter weather though and grip may become non-existent, so think about how it usually runs in the wet. If it is a slop fest, at the very least you will laugh your heads off as you slither around in the mud.
Trail centres and bike parks are normally a sure bet though. These trails will be well maintained and most have a surface that is rideable all year round so at least you know you will have some grip. Maybe... Be sure to check ahead to that adverse weather hasn’t closed them down, they usually post on their social media pages.
Will I freeze to death? What to wear to stay toasty and alive.
Like any outdoor activity in the winter, how we dress affects the stoke levels. Having decent winter riding kit will make the difference between a great day on the bike and questioning why you even own one.
- Waterproof socks are a must. Dry feet = happy heart.
- Ever tried to ride a bike with numb hands? We can assure you, it's not fun. Some brands sell winter gloves that are extra thick and have some water resistance. Alternatively, a pair of plastic gloves under your regular gloves is a quick hack to stay warm, it may get a bit sweaty but will increase the time it takes for you to not feel your brake levers. Look out for Shred Like a Girl's new gloves hitting the website soon!
- Layers layers and more layers. The key to staying warm is layering. Keeping that core warm is really important, so a thermal base layer is ideal. On top of that, we recommend a few other technical layers, like this rad jersey for example.
- Keeping your neck and head warm is an easy way to stay snug. Buffs are brilliant and can also be pulled up over your head to stop your ears from freezing off. Even better would be a skull cap beanie (like the ones runners use) AND a buff, mmmm toasty. P.S. As an added bonus, buffs also catch snot and allow you to whimper in secret.
- A waterproof and windproof jacket will finish the glowworm vibes. The more breathable the better, but anything to keep the wind and inevitable rain off you will work perfectly.
- Make sure you have a dry set of clothes and shoes in your car to change into after, including socks and knickers! Permission to look like a bag of rags is granted, you just want to get warm and dry as quickly as possible. Shred Like a Girl has the perfect post ride hoodies for the aftermath.
Arrange a ride with another human
If you are anything like us, the excuses can flood out when we are trying to motivate ourselves to go for a ride on our own. Especially when it is cold and wet and our sofa is calling. Arranging to meet with a friend or a group will hold you accountable and tell your brain the toaster does not need cleaning and to get yourself out there. You will also have someone to moan with about winter and adulting.
If you’re short on riding buddies, or you’re not sure where to go, make sure you check out our brand ambassador page. Find the one closest to you and slide into their DM’s; they’re always keen for a ride or to share some local trail knowledge.
If no one wants to ride then put it out there on a message or social media that you are going out and that you will post a ride photo or selfie when you are home. Holding yourself accountable to people can be just enough to get you out the door.
How to create even more ride time
Let’s face it, it feels like there is only one hour of daylight at the moment, so to increase the opportunity to get out and ride, invest in a set of bike lights. It means you can ride in the day and not panic when it gets dark in the afternoon.
It also means NIGHT RIDES. There is no better way to get an instant boost of happiness than whizzing around the trails at night. Go with someone though if you can, or at least tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Sending your live location to a friend on whatever tech you use, whatsapp, google maps or your sports watch, can keep you safe if you are brave enough to go out on your own.
If all else fails
If you simply can not get yourself out there for a ride, which is totally okay, you are only human after all, then try some of these ideas to keep you living your best bike life away from the elements.
- Create a summer goal. Book a holiday, plan a big ride, research bike packing, write a MTB wish list. Focus forward and get excited.
- Watch a MTB movie. Find one on Redbull TV, YouTube or Netflix. Invite your MTB buddies over, get the snacks in and sit back, relax and pretend you can ride your bike like “they” do.
- Find indoor activities, like rock climbing, skate parks, the gym. Winter is the perfect time to build up strength and prepare for shreddy time when the weather is more friendly. Finding something to burn your energy will help to keep your mental health in check.
- Pick a “carpark” skill to master. Okay, we said these ideas would be away from the elements but you could get out when it was dry to do this. Set yourself a goal and get out and practice it as much as you can. Film yourself to track your progress. Learning a skill like a bunnyhop or endo will occupy your mind. It doesn’t need much faff and you can then show off to your buddies the next time you meet up.
- Listen to podcasts, read a book, read blogs, and consume mountain biking in other ways. Get excited, discover new things and maybe even make some new connections.
We hope these ideas have inspired you and will make enduring the rest of winter that little bit easier. If you want something to aim for then check out our MTB events page. There are upcoming rides arranged at Northampton Bike Park in January and Shred Like a Girl’s 2nd birthday social ride at Dyfi Bike Park in February. We hope to see you there!
What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.