It’s Winter and guess what? It’s cold, the roads are slippery and, for most of us, the only daylight we see is at the weekend. Funny thing that, I seem to remember much of the same from last year. And the year before that. And…
My point is, Winter is never a surprise, so what do you do to keep your biking bubble inflated when the weather goes south? The obvious answers are to either push on through and put up with the cold, or hide your bike under a blanket and wait for the sunshine. Both of those are fine, although the latter option means three months without riding; don’t fancy that much. Here are three ways you might not have thought of to survive the Winter, that don’t involve hibernation:
1. Restoration projects
eBay, bless it, is rammed full of other people’s shit bikes, just waiting for a new dose of enthusiasm. Whether you fancy reliving your youth by fixing up an old moped like a Yamaha FS1E, or you’ve been swept up in the retro scene and want to cut the mudguards off an ’80s Honda so you can pretend to be Steve McQueen, the internet has a project for you. Just make sure it’s finished before April so you don’t waste good riding time skinning knuckles in the garage.
You’ll need: £200 – £20,000, a suitable workshop (remember to get clearance before you use the kitchen), tools, a drop of mechanical knowledge and lots of enthusiasm that doesn’t vanish along with your knuckle skin the first time the spanner slips…
We all know that bike racers use off road riding to sharpen their skills over Winter, good for them. But if beating lap times and learning to powerslide aren’t your thing, that’s no reason to dismiss knobbly tyres. Get yourself a cheap trail bike and hit the byways and green lanes that only get better as the weather gets worse. There’s no 70mph wind blast to freeze you to death, there are no blazing headlights to deal with and, if you do slide off, there’s naff-all to break on a trail bike.
You’ll need: £750 – £1,500, some old kit that you don’t mind getting muddy and ideally a like-minded mate or two
3. Game on
If you’re really not in to leaving the comfort of the living room, there’s still away to come out the other side of Winter having gained something in your biking armoury. Ever sat watching MotoGP, BSB or WSB at a track you’ve ridden yourself? Knowing a track gives you a bit more insight to what the racers are going through when you’re watching. Seeing Shane Byrne put an impossible overtake on someone at the top of Paddock Hill, Brands Hatch is impressive, but if you’ve been round Brands it’s unbelievable. I’m not suggesting you go and ride every track in the racing calendar, nice though that would be, go for the easy option – learn the tracks on the Playstation. A few hours a week practicing the tracks will mean that next time you watch Marquez skipping out of control towards turn one at Valencia, you’ll have some idea how hard it is to stop for that corner.
You’ll need: £200 or an existing games console, plus £40 per game.