|Photo by Ellen van der Zwan|
And they roll their eyes, and say cliches like, "Well, your a better person than me. I could never do that"
But truth be told- they could. Winter cycling to me is the most fun. The extreme, often unpredictable weather, adverse road conditions, and lack of day light, make it an adventure.
Here are some things I do to make my rides, and commutes, safe and fun.
I am always prepared for changing weather. I carry extra clothing-shirt, gloves, neck gaiter, socks, hat, helmet cover, pants, and whatever else I may need.
Temperature drops of 30+ degrees are common in winter.
My bike is well prepared for winter. I have fenders, rear rack, and multiple lights.
Actually three lights in the front an three in the rear. May seem excessive, but it is not, being visible is very important with the low light conditions of winter. Reflectors and reflective clothing are OK, but nothing catches the eye of a driver like a blinking light.
Lubrication-I use a generous amount of oil on my chain, gears, and derailleurs. The salts and sand are very harsh on the bike.
Obeying the laws:
Winter is a time for me to be hyper aware of my surroundings. I know the road conditions, what is in front, behind, and on my sides 100% of the time. I am also aware of options to get off the street if I have too-especially in icy conditions. I recently got pulled over for going through a four way stop without completely stopping during rush hour. It was the first time I was pulled over on my bicycle. When the cop told me why he pulled me over, I told him, "you are completely right, and I appreciate you looking out for me, I should have come to a complete stop." He told me most of the cyclists he stops argue with him even though they are breaking laws like going through Red lights of ignoring Stop signs. I have found over the years the Police are good allies to have, if for nothing, they will be the first ones to the scene if you get hit, and may save your life.
Peter White offers an excellent article about studded bicycle tires at Peter White Cycles
Why ride in winter? Why not ride in winter?!
Layering, layering, layering! That is the key, there is no magic one piece of clothing, and in most cases less is more. For instance in winter I usually wear, in temps of 20f to 35f, skull cap, helmet rain cover, neck gaiter, fleece gloves, two light weight wick able long sleeve shirts, a light weight wind breaker with a back vent, cycling shorts, wind pants, or micro fleece pants, wool socks, hiking boots ( I use platform pedals).
In mild dry cold weather I now prefer wearing wool is possible: trousers, underwear, socks, sweat, shirt, hat, gloves, neck gaiter, with a good tough boot. When wet, the one piece of high tech clothing is my
Transit Jacket from Showers Pass it is hard to beat for functionality, made by cyclists, for cyclists. A little pricey at $160US, but considering the benefits, well worth it. Also great for Walking, hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, running, anything outside in winter.
I regulate my temperature buy the zipper on my jacket, and on my level of exertion. All this takes practice and what works for one person, may be different for another, so be patient. The only rule is: to go ride and experience it for yourself!
I have biked in blizzards, sleet, 31f degree rain, snow storms, when temps were well below zero, and all I have to say is: it is FUN...AS LONG AS YOU ARE PREPARED!
So give winter cycling for transportation a try! Here are some resources that may help.
(All pictures were found online if you are the taker, let me know.)