Our top tips for riding in challenging conditions

Let us help you with our cycling tips for riding in challenging conditions. You might not be up for looking at snow any longer, but daily commutes and shorter rides in winter and spring can be a great preparation for your first Dirt Dash, or to get you back into riding after a longer time off.

My rides on the Kinesis Tripster last week in Norway, with an unexpected 25cm of fresh snow added, were challenging, but fun!

Here are some tips from my own experiences to keep on riding when the conditions are not ideal:

Your Clothing

  • The first of my top tips for riding in challenging conditions is to make sure you are using multiple layers to keep you warm on a ride. In wet conditions your outer layer should be waterproof. In dry conditions have something windproof. My minimum requirement for bikepacking is a waterproof jacket with a hood. A skull cap and a pair of gloves that can withstand rain are great too!
  • I’m yet to find any fully waterproof gloves, but the Arendal Biking Gloves from Dexshell did a good job so far. While the hood will protect your head, I would opt for the windproof Dexshell cycling skull cap as a backup.
  • While gloves will keep you fingers warm, for keeping your feet dry and warm there are a number of choices. I am using the waterproof Dexshell Hytherm Pro Socks with merino wool. If needed, I would combine them with another pair of merino socks.
  • While overshoes work well for road rides, I find them tricky to use off-road. But the Dexshell neoprene overshoes are a good choice for on-road use and light gravel. For off-road use my recommendation would be a proper winter shoe if you use clipless pedals. Or normal hiking shoes with flat pedals.

The Bike

  • The second of my top tips for riding in challenging conditions is to make sure your bike is in good working order. There is nothing worse than having to stop in pouring rain to fix your bike.
  • Check tires, brake pads and chain regularly, and be mindful of strange sounds from your bike. They can lead to bigger problems, for example a broken freewheel.
  • If in doubt, get your bike checked frequently at your local bike shop.
  • Use mudguards! You might be able to spot it, I use a Kinesis Fend Off Shorty for my Tripster AT. This is ideal to keep the water spray away from my backside. 

Motivation to ride

  • I rode home in torrential rain and head winds last night. While I hope you’ll have a sunny weekend riding the first Dirt Dash of 2024 in Alyth, riding in rain or wind, or in snow, will simply give you more options.
  • I try to find a purpose in each ride – sometimes I go out to capture nice images, at other times, like last night, I really look forward to the sense of achievement after the ride.