Q We've had a wonderful Summer and Autumn has started with a few cold days, so I am wondering whether to put my bike away, or carry on all through the Winter.
A It is really your choice. If you feel happy and confident, carry on riding, but if you dread the cold and wet, then don't.
If you choose to lay your bike up for the Winter, then it is best to put it somewhere dry and sheltered from the weather. If you have a dry shed or garage, then that is fine, but if you have to leave it locked outside, then at least cover it with a tarpaulin if you can.
Oil or grease the bike chain and gears to stop them going rusty while your back is turned, and keep the tyres pumped up, even though you are not riding. Best to check the tyres once a month. If any tyre goes flat the rubber is folded in half which can promote cracks in the side wall, and eventually, failure.
If you are going to carry on riding through the winter there are a few things to think about.
The bike should be OK, but when you get back from a rainy or muddy ride it is sensible to give the bike a wipe down with an old towel or cloth of some kind to reduce the risk of rust. A quick squirt of furniture polish onto another cloth can then be wiped over the paintwork to help it shrug off moisture.
Most of the moving parts of the bike are sealed against the weather so you don't have to go round with an oil can every week, but after a wet ride it is a good idea to have a spray can of '3 in 1' or similar oil and spray the gears in the back wheel while you turn the pedals backwards. Two or three turns will expose all the links of the chain and all the cogs of the gears to the oil spray.
If you can keep your bike under cover ( and I know that some of you can't) then it keeps it dry until next time.
After the bike you will need to think about yourself, and your clothing, but I don't like recommending any special items or makes. Specialist cycle clothing is designed to do a specific job, and it is nice to copy the top cyclists but for normal cycling, normal ideas on clothing are true. You will need a good waterproof jacket, preferably one that is fairly long at the back, and several layers of tops to go underneath. Waterproof trousers are also available, but I find that they are bulky to cycle in and Lycra type pants can be better as they dry out very quickly.
Finally you need to think about your hands. Your hands sit out in front of you clutching what is basically a steel tube, so make sure that you have good gloves for the coldest weather. They don't have to be expensive, although the very best can cost a lot, but if you have some 'puffy' gloves they are made of several layers with the outers wind and waterproof and the other layers and the padding trapping air to keep you warm.