Don’t let this winter’s record-breaking rainfall get you down; here are five tips to keep the fire burning even when it’s soggy outside.
Forget waterproof jackets (most of the time)
Waterproof jackets might keep puddle splashes and rainfall out, but they also keep sweat in, often making you just as wet inside. There are two ways round this: Go for a thin softshell on top with a couple of layers of wool underneath to maintain your temperature — yes, you’ll get wet but you’ll be warm and you’ll dry as you ride.
Option two, invest in a top-tier waterproof shell — it’s the only way not to be totally drowning in your own steam in humid and swampy conditions. Whatever the fabric, more vents are always better. Try the Scott Trail MTN 20 (£169.99).
Keep it natural
Sheep do just fine on hillsides year-round, in all weathers, and so can you. Ditch the man-made fabrics for wool — it stays warm when wet, dries quickly, doesn’t stink too badly and wicks moisture well. Merino tops make the best base layers, and can double up as outer layers when it’s mild. Thick wool socks keep pinkies toasty, even when soaked through, and magically don’t get too hot on warmer days either.
Waterproof trousers are the bomb
For the past three or four winters, we’ve lived in Endura’s MT500 Waterproof Pant II (£119.99). Altura’s Attack trousers (£109.99) are also highly recommended. Long trousers are the best solution to keeping mud off your legs (and consequently out of the bath and your partner’s hair).
Pick a well-fitting, breathable pair. A big bonus is they are weather independent — toasty in foul and cold conditions without being too sweaty, like a jacket. They can be hosed down after a ride and machine washed in pure soap to maintain the waterproof membrane.
Carry spare dry gloves to rapidly increase body temperature and comfort, and save a dummy-spitting meltdown if caught in a real downpour. Make sure your grips have ridges on them too, because they work better with muddy gloves, giving you a more secure hold at the most crucial moments.
Thin-palmed gloves with neoprene, wind-facing fronts like these new 100% Brisker gloves (£19.99) stay warm even when soaked. They’re a revelation!
Stay clean and get grippy
Mudguards are essential to keeping dirt and water out of your eyes when speeds pick up. The POWA DFender (£49) or Front Race Mudhugger (£25) guards are the most effective. Mud tyres transform winter riding grip levels too — our favourite is the Schwalbe Magic Mary (£49.99).