Oh no, it’s winter time! I love winter, but I have NEVER biked in the winter. I rode the other night during some flurries and my hands froze! My face was ok until the wind hit me on my return trip. So here’s a collection of tips and hints I’ve found and some things I’ve discovered on my own.
1) Protect your hands and face from the cold and the wind. Sounds simple right? Trying to pick the perfect mix of protecting without impairing your ability to ride or see while you ride (or if you’re a commuter giving you smushed hair) can be difficult. But don’t make it that way – go to your LBS (local bike shop, remember?) and ask. They should have in stock now gloves that can protect you anywhere from about 40 degrees to near 0. A balaclava will cover your face and leave only your eyes exposed, so when able use sunglasses or something else to protect here. Some are thin, some are bulky but try them on and see what works for you. There are different types of gear for road bikers, downhill bikers and mountain bikers. Pick wisely, these accessories can set you back $20-100 each.
2) Pick your clothing wisely. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold on your ride so picking the right base layer of clothes can go a long way toward keeping that sweat from turning you into an icicle. It’s better to be cautious and test out a layering scheme than to end up halfway through your ride and find yourself on fire.
3) Know how to handle your bike in cold, icy and snowy conditions. It’s different than biking in the warm spring, summer and fall so you have to be far more careful. It’s not impossible to do, people do this all over the world. Be smart!
4) Check your lights. In the winter your lights could be harder to see if you just have a small light that you used to be seen the rest of the year. Check with your LBS about getting brighter, bigger lights to be seen better while biking in the white stuff and so YOU can see better to avoid ice or just to see the road.
5) Take care of your bike. This tip should probably have been higher as you can’t winter bike without a bike! Check your tires – something knobby (not smooth) will be best. This is an area where your LBS really comes in handy – they know the winter conditions and can show you what type of tires work best in your area. Make sure the lubrication on your bike is ready for the winter – some types of lube work better than others. No need to have parts lock up in mid-ride! Be aware that your bike is going to get nastier than ever and suck it up. The conditions outside may rust your bike but hey – it’s metal and you’re putting it in a wet environment. Fenders can help you not get nasty during your commute and try to keep your bike as dry as possible when you can.
Some other cool articles to check out –
What tips do you have for commuting by bike in the winter? I want to know!