Dragons Back Circular - Black Mountains
The Dragons Back walk starts in the small village of Pengenffordd within the Brecon Beacons National Park. It boasts fantastic views of the surrounding country side and the beautiful Black Mountains.
Winter can be a challenge to get out on two wheels, especially if you have a new bike or are new to cycling. Helen Pollard gives us her top tips to keep your wheels turning until spring returns.
Before you head out on any rides you need to make sure your bike is set-up correctly.
If you have purchased your bike at an independent bike shop, they should have done this for you. With an internet purchase you will have to do a bit of DIY, but this shouldn't be that difficult. Once your bike is all in one piece, follow the five steps below...
Successful winter riding does need a bit more kit and preparation.
Although we’d admit that it’s hard to beat cycling around in the summer, with short-sleeves and no waterproofs there’s still a lot of enjoyment to be had from winter riding – let alone the benefits of keeping your legs turning, and lots of fresh air.
Cycling is a great way to spend time as a family and if you have kids, it's a good idea to allow them to have a practice on a new bike before setting off on a longer ride, especially if they are getting to grips with gears for the first time.Learn to ride
The most important factor in winter weather riding is, of course, clothing. This is essential when riding with children who are less able to regulate their body temperature and cold hands will take the enjoyment out of a ride very quickly - even for adults!
Not sure whether you have enough clothes on (or too many)? Then go outside before your ride and see how it feels. You should not feel too warm. You can always keep spare clothing, including gloves, in a saddle bag or backpack, especially if you are riding with children.Wet weather gear guide Ultimate guide to layering
Remember that the effort of riding will warm you up considerably especially in hilly areas.
Eating enough before and during a ride is as important in winter as it is at any other times of year. Be aware that some energy bars can become very hard during low temperatures, so keep them somewhere warm. Jelly babies are a good alternative.
Keep drinking regularly too. It may not be obvious that you are sweating under all that clothing, but fluid loss happens when cycling at any temperature. If the temperature is really cold, we always carry a thermos of hot chocolate, it's perfect reviving cold fingers.
Including a café stop as part of your planned route is excellent motivation, giving you a chance to have a hot drink and a large slice of cake. Check out our 10 best walking and cycling routes for coffee and cake. Whether your stopping at a café or for a picnic, make sure you stay warm and don’t cool off too much. We always put an extra layer on when we stop to prevent ourselves getting cold.
Punctures are an unfortunate part of winter riding, so don’t forget your tubes, tools and pump.
Take care if you are considering using CO2 cartridges low temperatures, the gas can cause the head of the canister to freeze, including to your gloves or fingers.
Before you head off, ensure you know how to change a tyre or make sure you're with someone who does!
In winter, when riding on the road we always have lights on as it can get very gloomy on overcast winter days when the sun is at its weakest.
Small, light and very bright rechargeable LED lights can be cheaply purchased and are perfect to be seen with. Make sure that your lights are charged before every ride. Remember the cold will zap the battery!Guide to cycling in the dark
Wider tyres are great for winter riding, on and off road. Opt for tyres that offer a degree of puncture protection and are harder wearing. Continental Gatorskins are excellent for winter riding on roads, but many other tyre manufacturers offer similar models.
Use mudguards – your backside and the rider behind will thank you for it.
Salty water off gritted roads or mud can cause lots of problems with moving parts, and water getting into exposed cables can cause upset gears. Give your bike a regular look over and try and wash off the accumulated grime regularly. Check for wear on rims and brake blocks, as wet weather can be particularly harsh on these areas. If you can, wash your bike down after every muddy ride.How to keep your bike going for longer
Keep your chain oiled regularly, and make sure that your cables are in good shape.
Check the weather before you leave and be prepared for the worst. If heading up high, we use the Mountain Weather Information Service. Remember as soon as you climb the weather can change dramatically so if you're thinking of tackling any major hills, do come prepared.
Make sure you plan a sensible route to match the predicted weather forecast. If you are going alone tell somewhere you are going and expected return time.How to find traffic-free routes
It is very easy to become inactive over winter and opt for four wheels instead of two, but getting outside for exercise and enjoyment is just as essential as in summer. It will combat bored kids’ syndrome, boost everyone’s immune system and mood, helping to fight off winter bugs. Feeling the wind in your hair on a crisp, clear winter's day as you cruise along on two wheels is bliss! Go on, try it!Top tips on cycling locally Find great cycle routes How to be a considerate cyclist
Helen spends her days, managing a cycling business, chasing her daughter Daisy, running with dogs, falling off her bike, and hopefully encouraging others to do something similar.