Riding at this time of year is a psychological battle for me. It's too cold, isn't it? NO. What do I wear?! What do I wear?! I know I'll be happy once on the bike, but the rapidly changing temperatures make it hard for me to remember what works well in this weather.
It was 26 F when I was riding tonight. Low/no wind. I wore:
--heavy winter boots
--heavy-weight, knee-high wool socks
--a long-sleeve thermal shirt (the heaviest baselayer made by Eastern Mountain Sports. similar to the warmest kind of Under Armor)
--balaclava + hat + helmet
Assessment: My hands got sweaty. My head was a little cold, but anything more and it starts to sweat. I want to look into getting a wind-proof headband like Carly uses. My shirt was just right, but it's not windproof. My skin felt a little cold underneath it, but I didn't feel uncomfortable. I packed a windbreaker and a scarf just in case.
Fenders are a requirement in the dirty, sandy, salty, wet winter months. They protect your clothing and parts of your bike from winter slop.
These cover most of the wheels and require installment to eyelets and frame/fork mounts. They offer the most protection and can be sized to a road or MTB wheel. Don't neglect cleaning them.
Caveat: On very snowy, slushy days, they can get packed with snow and may require a bit of emptying on a longer ride.
Lacking attachment points? You might be able to rig them up with some help from a bike shop. Alternatively, you could DIY fenders from a heavy plastic (think political signs) and some zip ties.
Do not offer as much coverage as full fenders but allow for ease of switching between bikes.
TIre size and type is personal preference based on experimentation in the snow.
Some enjoy cutting through the snow and making contact with pavement. Try to find a tire that has a pattern good for wicking water.
CX style tire that provides a bit more grip with knobs but also allows for a bit more speed because of higher tire pressures.
26", 29" (MTB):
Big knobs, low pressure allows for a lot of float through snow.
Studded tires (700c and 26"):
Have small metal studs embedded in tire to provide traction in icy conditions. Increase in confidence in harsh weather conditions. Most expensive type of tire and also heavier.
Flat pedals and adjustable straps are good for accommodating wider boots in winter months.
Neoprene booties are a good addition to cycling shoes in order to continue to use clipless pedals. Can add toe and footbed chemical warmer if going on longer ride.
Lights are important as drivers of motorized vehicles are not always expecting to see a cyclist in the winter months.
My recommendation is a small blinking LED on the handlebars (to be seen) and a stronger light on the helmet (to see). Conditions can rapidly change in a few hours and being able to illuminate your path can help you avoid obstacles (ice, potholes, etc). The higher light position on the helmet allows you to be seen over snowbanks.
A good rear red flashing light is a good addition as well.
Biking in the winter can be fun, enjoyable, and effective if you prepare well. While there are additional challenges – they can be easily overcome by smart riding. And, once you’re used to the colder temps and the feel of snow under your tire, it is a whole lot of fun!
Less daylight means we bike in the dark more often during winter – and drivers aren’t expecting to see cyclists in the streets this time of year. Bright colored and reflective clothing, combined with front and rear lights are essential. Mounting a light on your helmet allows you to direct the light as your turn your head, and it helps with seeing over snow banks.
RIDING IN SNOW & ICERead More
There is, miraculously, no snow or ice on the ground yet! I'm sure I just jinxed it and we are going to get a blizzard tomorrow, but no worries. You are prepared! You attended Grease Rag's 3rd Annual Winter Skill Share! You learned about your bike options, gear, clothing, and safety. You talked with other WTFs that are starting out or are old hands at winter riding.
You are winter warriors.
For your reference, and for those of you that could not make our very well attended event, we are offering write ups of the sessions, written by the presenters. Did I mention that they are the most awesome volunteers? Thank you, volunteers!
Bike setups and options, by Janneke (We will be posting this shortly!)
Grease Rag Ride & Wrench has grown tremendously this year. With the addition of three nights per month, we are empowering more women and transgender cyclists by teaching bike mechanics, sharing knowledge, and building community.
Because of your generous donations to the Minneapolis Presents calendar project, Grease Rag has been able to support the folks who support us and expand our network of powerful WTF cyclists. Here are a few things we have done with our funds so far:
- We began the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Our principal board members include Laura Kling, Kat McCarthy, and Jamie MacDonald.
- We hosted our biggest skill share yet, our third annual Winter Cycling Skill Share, in early November. We offered a small stipend to our presenters and a small stipend to the graphic designer who made the flyer.
- We solidified our logo and printed reflective stickers! You can pick one up at the next open shop night. They’re also available for $1 donation at Sunrise Cyclery.
- We will continue to print and distribute flyers to spread the word about Grease Rag.
- We placed an advertisement in a local zine, Creative Ladies Are Powerful (C.L.A.P.), and gave a small stipend to the artist who drew the ad. (Keep an eye out for the winter issue of the zine, Kat & Low wrote an article on winter cycling).
- We are offering reduced cost scholarships for members wanting to attend a Krav Maga self-defense and cycling skill share in December.
If you think Grease Rag is providing a vital service for the Minneapolis cycling community, you too can support us. We are always looking for more WTF organizers. Share your ideas and take action!