At Laka we like to form partnerships with other local companies wherever possible, and London-based brand, Beryl, is our go-to for lights. Following on from part 1, the team at Beryl gives you the low-down on preparing for your commute as we head into the darker months, focusing on staying warm and dry.
This feels like the most basic of preparation, but everyone at Beryl HQ agreed that it takes some time to get familiar with what your body needs on your commute.
Keeping your core warm starts with a decent base layer, one that wicks away sweat to keep you dry and warm. A merino wool base layer is an office favourite, as it is fantastic at wicking away moisture, with keeping dry being half of the battle in staying warm. Layering with thin multiple tops or jerseys rather than one big jacket is advised as the thin layers trap warm air and can also be easily taken off or put back on depending on how you feel.
As for your head, a cycling cap or a thin hat under your helmet will keep your head warm and take the chill off. A buff around the neck can assist in keeping the warm air in and stop a cold draft getting in too. You can even wear cycling-specific hats which cover your ears. Otherwise, a buff can be pulled up above your nose and ears to take the wind chill off.
Feet - they deserve a special mention
As tweeted by Sir Bradley Wiggins, cling film or plastic bags acting as a vapor barrier can be amazingly effective. Wear a thin pair of liner socks, then the cling film or bag, and then your thicker insulating socks. Sweat can’t escape but, because your feet are in their own warm and moist micro-climate, they tend to sweat less. Water from the outside is prevented from getting through to your skin and any moisture your feet create is unable to wet your insulating socks through.
Socks can either be made from synthetic or natural fabrics like Merino wool. Merino wool offers very good warmth and insulation and is very comfortable. The addition of synthetic fabrics can give socks better moisture management, keeping your feet drier for longer.
Staying dry is the first hurdle in keeping warm. If you can keep dry, your chances of staying warm are greatly increased. We’ve already stated the importance of having a decent base layer that wicks away sweat to keep your body dry, which keeps your core warm leaving blood to flow to your extremities.
Mudguards are brilliant to have on your bike in keeping the water and grime from the road off you. Cyclists behind you will be thankful for mudguards which stop spray from the rear tyre going up too. A quick way of keeping your rear and back dry is by picking up something simple such as an Ass Saver.
When things get wet. Sometimes you just can’t help getting wet. This can be particularly off putting when commuting in because, one, you don’t want to be sitting around uncomfortable and wet all day, and two, your valuables and electronics are in danger of being ruined.
Firstly, when commuting, check the weather. If it’s going to rain and you know you’re going to get wet, keep what you’re going to wear on your lower half in a plastic bag within your bag and wear something light and as water resistant as possible. Water-resistant trousers are often easy and not too expensive to come by. There are designer options such as Levi’s commuter range with reflective stitching and panels too.
Secondly, keeping your valuables dry in your pockets and bags is a lot cheaper than you’d think when protecting thousands of pounds worth of gear. Seal your valuables in baggies / waterproof cover for your bag. Hot or cold weather, your valuables are likely to be susceptible to getting wet from either sweat coming through your jersey or from moisture off the road, sometimes both, which could end up damaging your phones and wallets.
Tip: Sealable polythene bags are a cost effective way of protecting your valuables from moisture. You can buy them in multi-packs from most supermarkets for next to nothing. You can also buy phone-specific, more durable, zip lock bags off the internet if you prefer. There are even some cycling branded ones out there too.
If you’d like to go the extra mile, there are some premium wallets for your valuables out there from companies such as Albion and Rapha. These can be used off the bike too as they look incredibly smart.
If you carry a bag around while commuting, spare clothes and laptops could also take the brunt of wet roads, which is where a water resistant cover for your bag may come in handy which are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit over your backpack.
Tip: Remember silica gel? The little bags that come in shoeboxes, which say “Do not eat” on. They’re actually extremely useful. Store them in your laptop and valuable compartments of your bag as they’ll soak up any light damp moisture likely to be admitted by rain and keep your bag dryer all year round.
Warm bottles. Mixing your drinks solutions for your bottles with hot water from the kettle is a great way of assisting with warming up mid-ride, particularly when the core needs to warm up. One of our team members also finds it helpful with their breathing when battling asthma and the cold air.
Thermal bottles are fantastic for keeping both your drinks cold and warm, depending on what you put inside them. So if you wanted to keep your drinks warmer or colder for longer, they might be a small investment worth making.
Lower tyre pressure
With the rain, colder weather and muck on the road, all brought on by winter, grip can also be an issue. Lowering your tyre pressures slightly can add grip as well as comfort to your ride. Be sure not to go too low, otherwise, you could be susceptible to pinch punctures when having the misfortune of hitting such things as a pothole or curb.
To avoid having to fix a puncture on the side of the road in the cold and rain, adding tyre sealant to your inner tubes can seal punctures from flint, road debris and nails. For the cost of around £10, it’s a small price to pay for adding extra puncture protection and avoiding having to remove your gloves to change a tube.