Tip 1 : SHOES & FEET
If your cycling shoes (or any shoes for that matter) get wet they can become damp and smelly very quickly. A simple way to avoid this is to dry them first using some old newspaper. Then pop in a tumble dryer sheet such as Lenor or Bounce and leave near a radiator or boiler overnight. In the morning your shoes will be dry and will smell fresh. No more searching for cats pee in the kitchen.
Another good idea is to tape over the vent holes on your shoes with duct tape or insulating tape. This stops the cold air being channeled in around your feet and also keeps out some of the rain water.
If you get very cold feet get an emergency blanket from a 2Euro shop, mark out the shape of your insoles and cut a piece to match. Then pop that into your shoes under the insoles to retain lots of lovely warm heat.
Tip 2 : EARS
If you are out in cold frosty weather it can be no harm to let a little wax build up in your ears to add a layer of natural protection. Not to the extent that it is noticeable to those standing behind you in the supermarket que, just clean them perhaps only on a Monday so that there is a little build up by the weekend. They say that you should never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, but every house seems to have a box of cotton buds so just be careful using them. It is also a good idea to wear a skull cap or similar that fits snugly under your helmet and which comes down over your ears. Some people uses headphones which do limit cold air but they also limit your hearing and thus your ability to sense traffic coming from behind so are not advised.
Tip 3 : TYRES
If you are going to scrimp on tyres do it in the Summer rather than the Winter. When the roads are wet and slippy you need all the grip and puncture resistance that you can get. Be careful of hard compound tyres such as Continental Gator Skins which do offer great puncture resistance but which have very little grip in the wet. A better option that I use are the likes of Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons or Schwalbe Durano plus. Use tyres that are at least 25mm wide and maybe even 28mm if you have the frame clearance. This winter I am using Giant Gavia SLR Tubeless tyres. They ride really well, have excellent puncture resistance and are reasonably grippy. Tubeless really is an option worth considering for winter cycling. They have less chance of puncturing than any normal clincher tyre and you can ride at lower pressures thus increasing grip and comfort.
Tip 4 : BIKE
It is extremely important to wash your bike after every spin in winter. There is so much salt, grit and grime on the roads that can play havoc with your machine.
One area in particular to focus on is the brake pads. Check for any embedded grit that can score your alloy rim and which leads to that tearing noise every time you pull the brakes.
If you want to avoid getting cold when you get home just give the a 2o second hose down and then wash it properly a few hours later. If you are just going to hose it down spray on some WD40 or GT85 on the chain, cassette, chainrings and derailleurs to avoid them being a nice orange shade of rust the next day you go for a spin.
Mudguards are fantastic when used correctly. They should be long enough to stop any spray going up into the face of the rider behind you. That means within about 10cm of the ground at the back.
Make sure that you light up well, both during the day and at night.
Tip 5 : BODY
Staying healthy is the number one priority for winter cycling. To do this you must take a few extra precautions to avoid getting a cold or worse.
Always bring a spare base layer in an empty water bottle, or a freezer bag in your back pocket if you are stopping for coffee. There is nothing more efficient at giving you a cold than working up a good sweat, then stopping to cool down for 20 minutes before heading back out into the cold air with a layer of freezing damp clothing next to your skin. Your first port of call at any coffee stop should be the bathroom to change your base layer.
If you do feel a cold coming on Sambucol is a great way to cut it off if you get it in time. A spoon 3 times a day works very well.
Always wear a hat if you are going out and about after your bike ride and keep well wrapped up. Your head is the chimney of your body so keep as much heat in as you can.