Out on the ride today it was pretty clear that we're heading into autumn now. The leaves on the trees were turning all shades of orange and there was a distinct chill in the air. So this got me thinking, just what kit do I own, that I've bought in the past that I think are pretty handy now the weather is turning bad? With this in mind I've pulled together five things that I use through-out winter and have tried and tested since last October at the very least. It's not necessarily the cheapest or most expensive kit out there but it does what it says and does it properly, which to me is all that matters.
Knowing that I would be commuting all winter last year I decided I need some pretty serious lights to get me through the dark months that were both reliable and bright enough to make sure I would be seen whatever the weather. I bought the Exposure Joystick (front) and the Exposure Blaze (Rear) lights to do just this job. I always work on the basis that you need at least 800lm to "see" rather than "be seen" so the Joystick ticked the box on this front; in fact it's pretty blinding sometimes on the most powerful setting. The rear light is 80lm which is rather bright for most rear lights and really can't leave anyone saying they didn't see you from behind. Not the cheapest lights on the market but after 12 months they're still going as strong as ever.
Castelli Gabba (Perfecto)
I'm going to make a bold claim now, and that claim is that the Castelli Gabba is the single most important piece of kit in my winter cycling wardrobe through-out pretty much all seasons. A 'race fit' jersey that's exceptionally windproof and reasonably waterproof. In 95% of my rides over winter I'd wear my Gabba, Nano-flex+ arm warmers and a merino base-layer. If it's really cold I might add a normal jersey. I probably don't need to rave anymore about the Gabba given it's already massive reputation but I particularly like the little bum-flap that helps keep your bum dry and the perforated holds in the bottom of the pockets to make sure water drains away from the stuff you've got tucked away in them.
I'm going to take the presumption that everyone that rides in winter has already been sensible enough to put some mud-guards on their bike, even if it's just to keep yourself dry from the spray or protect your friends face from your back wheel. The problem is that mudguard manufacturers just don't make mudguards long enough so despite your best wishes your mates will still look like they've been eating dirt all day. That's where Topflaps step up to the mark. They make customisable 'flaps' that you can clip onto the end of your mudguards so that the coverage is pretty much to the floor so that your mates keep a clean face and you're a popular wheel to follow. You can even bulk order for your entire club so that you can spot the right wheel to follow over winter.
You've probably spent all summer making the most of the sunshine and have pushed your body pretty hard. Often over the winter months we still continue to ride, although not as hard, but forget to keep looking after ourselves when we're not pushing as hard. It's still important to get as much recovery over winter as it is in summer so I keep taking Rego after rides to make sure i'm recovering from my training properly and making sure I'll be strong come spring. I'm a big fan of the banana flavour but most people seem to love the chocolate. In the interest of fairness I should point out I am an ambassador for SiS but as I've said before I'll only get involved with stuff that I would or have bought outright anyway.
There is nothing worse than getting cold, wet feet in winter that hurt when you get in the shower. I know everyone has their own choice of warming shoe covers but they're probably not very waterproof. This is where the Velotoze are pretty cool. They're just made of a thick rubber type material that stretches really tightly over your shoes. If you're savvy you can put your warm overshoe of choice on or a pair of Toe thingys and then add the Velotoze on the top to go waterproof. I'll be first to admit they're ridiculously hard to get on but once you've seen the video it gets a lot easier.