Sunday, 11 December 2011
Well here in Japan it's now winter and with that comes rain , at least in Niigata we get plenty of rain and not far off we will soon see snow in the city as well. By now most car drivers have already changed their tyres to the winter snow tyres and some cyclists have already stopped cycling but it doesn't have to be that way if you prepare yourself for colder weather and rain !. So how do you keep cycling over the winter ?. Well first of all cycling is an aerobic activity that actually keeps you warm so the next thing you need to think about is how to stay dry . If you plan on cycling throughout the winter you will need a waterproof - breathable cycle jacket made from something like Gore tex or Hydrofoil. That has a long back flap to keep the rain , mud of your rear end !. If the jacket has reflective strips that's even better as then you will be easily seen by motorists. Having a fold away hood is also handy as it can be unzipped and used as needed when it really pours down hard. Water proof shoes are available , but mostly quite expensive and I have found my Shimano cycle shoes which look more like a outdoor sneaker than a traditional cycle show to be pretty good at keeping my feet dry in mild rain.
Another item you will need are warm waterproof gloves as it's not really possible to cycle safely with frozen fingers. Your hands must be warm to safely operate the brakes and gears of whatever bicycle you are riding. There is a vast range of winter cycle gloves available so pick the pair which suits your budget and the temp you cycle in etc.
As for what type of bicycles are suitable for cycling in Niigata , that depends on where you live and daily commute. If you live close to work and can use the road and cycle slowly it is possible to ride most types of bicycles. The most dangerous types of bicycles to ride in winter are standard road bikes and track racer type single speeds because of their narrow tyres and lack of grip makes them unsafe at higher speeds and very dangerous on snow or ice. The best type of bicycle for Niigata's winter is a MTB as with their wide tyres and extra grip and a vast range of gears they can be ridden in almost any conditions. I have ridden a MTB in - 3 deg snowstorms with no problems at all. Another type of bicycle that is also suitable is a Cyclocross bike which has 700 x 35 mm tyres as they are also cable of riding in most conditions as well. So wrap up in your wet weather clothing and keep cycling !. It will be a lot faster than driving your car or taking the bus as the traffic jams over winter only get worse and on a bicycle you can avoid this problem.
Pictured above is my New Zealand made cycle jacket called the Storm Trooper , it was purchased online from a company called Ground Effect and is made from Hydrofoil and is waterproof and breathable , it retails in NZ online for $260 which is Japanese yen 15606 .
Keep Cycling and have fun