IF you get bitten by the cycling bug in spring or summer there can be nothing more frustrating than having your burgeoning rides curtailed by the onset of winter.

In last week's Pedal Power section, launched by the Guardian to encourage more of our readers to cycle, we looked at the tempting option of cycling holidays in warmer climes when the unpredictable British weather unleashes its worst.

But the UK's plummeting temperatures need not put the brakes on a bike ride.

Winter offers some wonderfully exhilarating experiences for the intrepid cyclist and a glowing sense of achievement from battling the elements and surviving.

Fortune favours the brave, and often what can start off as a cold and rainy ride can turn into a jubilant jaunt bathed in crisp sunshine.

The main thing is having the right clothing to keep you as warm and dry as possible, no matter what the conditions, and a healthy dose of common sense.

We spoke to a group of stalwarts from Northwich's Weaver Valley Cycling Club, who go out on their bikes no matter what, to glean their top tips for safe and enjoyable winter riding.

Alan Silver, the club runs captain, said: "We go out in all conditions but when it's really bad we stay on main roads because they've been gritted.

"The salt isn't good for your bike but it's better to stay upright.

"We tend to keep a little more distance from the rider in front and make no sudden movements."

Derek Heine, who runs the club's Audax section, said: "We knock the speed down as well as you don't want to be hitting the brakes."

They had plenty of tips on clothing, including wearing a skullcap under your helmet to keep your head warm and thin base layers beneath a wind proof jersey or jacket.

Lycra legwear was also praised for its quick drying properties.

But controversy abounds in cycling circles about whether to spend a little or a lot on a waterproof jacket.

Derek said: "There are different arguments about waterproofs and whether to go expensive or cheap and cheerful.

"Some people buy cheap, it'll last a year and that'll do while others spend a bit more, but they still don't last forever."

Alan said: "You don't tend to ride all day in it, you just tend to use it as a cape."

They emphasised that extremities were the most important focus, with cold and wet fingers and toes making for an uncomfortable ride.

The group said they were still trying to find the perfect winter gloves, finding that they are either waterproof or offer warmth but rarely both, but had some good ideas for saving your feet.

Derek said: "Overshoes are worth their weight in gold."

Alan said: "Put either tin foil or cling film between your shoe and your overshoe, around your cleat, that works when it's cold or frosty."

For more information about Weaver Valley Cycling Club visit weavervalleycc.org.uk