Newsies, Balloons, Vas and Chips
Long sleeve jerseys, thermo jackets, wind jackets, weather proof jerseys… its very easy to fall into the trap of funding overpriced fashion cycling brands. Choose wisely and use this hot tip from a (self-promotion warning) former cycling apparel mogul! It’s called ‘For F Sake do I need it?” Fit, Function, Fabric, Fordability (That’s Aussie for affordability). Make sure you have ticked all these boxes then let Fashion kick in. Some brands do it really well and hit the fashion button as well as all the others. I often find myself shaking my head and saying “for F Sake” when I see winter kit that someone has paid over two hundred clams for and I could use my breath to blow both air and liquid through the fabric in both directions (outside in and inside out). I don’t want to tell them they may of well have just cut the corners of a rubbish bag, whacked on a cool logo, and called it the extreme weather vest… it can seriously be that bad!
Taking things to extremities!
Winter gloves and booties are a must riding in cold weather. Hands need to function, and cold feet can take weeks to warm up. Booties come in many different styles. Find ones that fit and suit the riding you want to do. You can get booties that can go through snow, but they’ll burn your feet off on an 8-degree day! Toe caps are quite good to cut out a bit of the cold but not overdo it (check out our toe cap cheat below.) You lose a lot of heat through your head, so winter caps, skull caps (and even the classic euro cap) make a huge difference. Something that you might not know… the peak on a euro cap is actually designed to keep rain off the eyeballs! Flip it down when the roads are wet and it’s raining, flip it up when it’s not. Speaking of eyes, most cycling eyewear (gogs) now come with fairly good defrosting designs, and lens options for clear or Neiwand yellow! Aussie track sprinting sensation Gary Neiwand was famous for wearing yellow lens Oakley Projects when he decimated his opponents on the boards. Visibility is something that so often gets forgotten when buying winter kit. Black warmers, booties, jackets, and vests, should only be brought if they have epic reflectiveness! Like Oxford street, when it comes to outer wear, the more bright fluro colours the better!
Lights, Lube, Ass Saver!
Your bike needs some special attention to. A good set of lights are a must. Unless you’re not an F-Truck driving redneck, don’t go for the blindingly bright setups, unless you’re going off road. A quality front, and a flashing red rear, is the way to go. Rechargeable lights are great… when you remember to charge them.
Lube for the chain is definitely quality thinking ahead, road grit and grime is hazardous to shifting but some quality wet weather chain lube really helps.
Run your tyre pressures slightly lower too, my old man used to say “a little more traction and a bit more pushing never hurt anyone.”
Finally, one of the cheapest and raddest purchases you can make this winter, is an ass saver. A little mudguard that you fit to the back of your saddle… you’ll never guess what it does…
The grand finally of fricken’ rad tricks
To finish this piece, I am going to let you into the inner McVilly sanctum of fricken rad tricks. When you get stuck in no man’s land, and the weather surprises the bejesus out of you, you need newsies, balloons, vas, chips, and an old fashioned hot toddy!
When I was 13, I rode to the top of Mt Wellington with my dad and a few of his old euro racing mates on a glorious August afternoon. We got to the top, took a photo with a Polaroid camera that one of the euros had lugged up (think selfie stick for Kool kids in the 80’s). The weather suddenly closed in, and Dad and the others took off running around to all the tourist cars and busses. I stood behind a huge rock, protected from the wind, wondering what on earth they were doing.
One returned with a newspaper …. “here little fella, undo your jersey and lay it flat on your chest and then zip it up,” he said. A make shift wind vest that absorbs moisture and blocks wind.
The next guy, a tall skinny Italian, returned smiling like a Cheshire cat with empty bags of Samboy chips… the ones where the packet is silver on the inside. “Bambino – take your shoes off, put your foot in the bag, put your shoe back on,” he said. It was a water and wind proof bootie – Genius.
My Dad came back with a four-finger scoop of Vaseline… I was 13, (hormones and stuff) and thought, this shit is getting weird. He wiped my cheeks, ears, neck and face with a thin layer of vas, and said “next best thing to a balaclava mate”. He was right. Vas protects you from the intense cold on your face and ears when descending in the cold, and stops chill blains (look that shit up, it’s nasty).
The last guy… I think he may have been a Dutchie… he had some semi deflated party balloons he had talked some tourists into giving him from a bus that looking back, I think was quite possible a hens day. He used his teeth to tear the thin mouth piece part away… “ya fut” he said looking at me with a rye smile. I lifted my foot in the air and he stretched the balloon over the ends of my toes. Boom! Totally windproof, rain proof, toe warmers.
Lastly my Dad had found someone who had a thermos. We each got a splash of what tasted like a spicy old fashioned tea (the kind with the extra kick).
Today we would call these ‘cheats’, and I have used every one of them a hundred times since that day at one point or another.
Got any good cheats to share? We’d love to know how you get through winter.
We’re currently running a winter kit sale in store. Come visit the team and ask us about a great deal on winter essentials.