Committing to commuting by bicycle is easy when the weather is warm, the streets are dry and the days are long and sunny. But for those of us who opt not to be fair weather bike commuters, riding in the colder months can be difficult. And cold.
That’s why we want to open the discussion to hear your input about what tips you have for winter cycling … and provide you 7 tips of our own.
- Choose your ride. Biking on snow and ice also typically means biking on salt or sand. Both of these can be extremely detrimental to your gears and suspension. During the winter months, give your fancy road bike a break and bust out the oldster — or buy a cheapy from your local craigslist where bikes invariably get a little cheaper price tag during winter.
- Dress in warm layers. Cyclists know better than anyone, its better to dress in layers. Not only can weather change at a heart beat, but so can your internal temperature as you pedal up or down steep inclines. Especially for the bike commuter, weather can be drastically different and extreme at the beginning and ends of the work day. Waterproof/windproof pants, wool base layers, warm socks, weather-proof gloves, touchscreen glove liners like Agloves, and a rain jacket are a must. Breathability is key, too. Find a jacket with pit-zips.
- Follow the tracks. It’s much easier to follow in the tracks of snowplows, cars or other cyclists especially after a heavy snow. Be careful when pedaling in deep snow drifts. Deep snow covers undulations in the pavement and can suck you into a major wheel disaster. Better to stay alert, keep your head up and follow the tracks set by your fellow commuters.
- Brighten Up. One of the major challenges of winter riding can be how dark it gets. With the sun setting near 5 o’clock pm, many winter cyclists find themselves battling night time. Be prepared. Have a headlight and tail light. Wear reflective tape. Bring extra batteries. If your lights fail, try the flashlight iPhone app and shine away.
- Park inside. Snow plows like to push big nasty piles of snow on top of bikes parked outside. Better safe than sorry. Carry your bike inside your office to a secure spot, and lock it up there. It might be cold, but take the extra moment to protect your gears and suspension from melting snow piles.
- Don’t lose your goals. If you ride your bike to work as a part of a healthy lifestyle or active regimen, don’t lose sight of your goals as the temperatures plummet. Continue logging your workouts in gadgets like iBike or other bicycle computers. If your feeling too cold even to tap your computer on, that’s when those touchscreen gloves come in handy again. Keep your fingers warm, and log your bike workouts.
- Don’t lose your vision. Sun reflecting off snow can be a major challenge and can truly wreck your vision. Snow blindness, or photokeratitis, is a real condition in which your cornea is sunburnt leaving you temporarily blind and in extreme pain. Wear sunglasses and protective eye gear.