Christmas this year falls on a weekend, which means festive celebrations aside you might be lucky enough to have Monday and Tuesday off. With the bank holidays falling at the start of the week, you may have the opportunity to get some riding in, to help work off the celebratory food and drink.
By the time we reach the bank holidays, the shortest day will have come and gone. That is not to say we will be blessed with longer days just yet but there will still be time to get in some miles. If you are planning to go outdoors for some free-range miles and maybe a dose of vitamin D, we can but hope, then some prep before will reduce faff time and increase ride time.
Not always truly accurate but can give a steer, check the weather forecast to determine what clothing choices to make. Will you need full winter layers, or will you get away with a rain jacket in your rear pocket? Your choices may be influenced by how long or how far you are planning on riding. A quick round the block is doable even if the forecast changes for the worse. If you are venturing further afield or for longer, then some careful consideration will need to be taken.
Plan your route, set your distance, you can factor in places to stop and get refreshments or just get out of the cold for a bit. Psychologically you can prepare yourself, put a coffee stop in at the halfway point and you will have two achievable targets.
Popular activity apps such as Strava or Komoot allow you to plan your route. You can see what other people have ridden in your area, check the distance, elevation or select which type of surface you want your route to include.
Once selected you can load the carefully crafted route into your GPS device or use it through the app on your phone, follow the route or use it for reference.
Given the lack of daylight hours over the festive break, even if the sun does put in a welcome appearance, it can get quite gloomy at times. Having a charged rear and front light can make you easier to discern from the surroundings for other road users. If you are riding off-road, the lack of light amongst the trees can make visibility difficult and quite challenging.
Potentially you could be riding in some inclement weather, so you will need to make sure your bike is running smoothly. You do not want to have to deal with a roadside mechanical with cold hands or try to fix a puncture, if you do make sure you have a pump (and know how to use it) and a spare tube(s), tyre levers and maybe a patch or two. Clean your bike, even if you just wipe down the frame, clean your drivetrain and lube it. A decent set of winter tyres will reduce the road buzz and make matters more comfortable. If you have not considered them already, then a set of mudguards could make riding more comfortable. Better still if you can fit them, a full-length set of mudguards will help to keep the spray and debris off you.
To carry your spares or even a few snacks, it is worth considering some form of luggage. Remember, the more you carry the heavier your bike. If you plan to use everything you carry that is fine but if not, you are making matters harder for yourself. A small saddlebag will cope with your spare tubes and tyre levers, a frame bag would increase your carrying capacity and a handlebar bag keeps everything close to hand.
Most of all enjoy the time on your bike. Time off is precious.