I just recently caught this article in VitaMN featuring some perspective on winter riding from cyclists you may know! Click here for the full article, "Winter Guide 2010: Riding out the winter."
Chelsea Strate, 26, of Minneapolis, does all her running around, all winter long, on her bike. "If I didn't [ride my bike], I would be inside watching movies and gaining weight. It can be really enjoyable. I don't own a car, and I'm pretty impatient, so I don't like being at the mercy of the bus schedule."
Exercise, weight control, fun, avoiding a sparse mass-transit schedule ... all excellent reasons for riding a bike. But isn't it cold out there? Like, really cold?
"People confuse winter riding on a bicycle with winter riding on a motorcycle," Strate explains. "On the bike, your heart is pumping, and you're keeping yourself warm. It's easier to stay warm when you're working to get somewhere."
"Winter riding is just about layering," she adds. "Long underwear. Leg warmers. One to three pairs of socks, depending on how cold it is. Scarf around the face. Hat and a helmet, mittens ..."
There are also some tips for riding comfortably in the winter:
How to bike in winter
Urban cyclists offer their tips for winter riding.
FOR YOUR BODY
There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Layering is essential.
- Gear: A good hat and helmet. Windproof shell. Long underwear (sometimes, yes, two pairs). Socks (sometimes three pairs). Hand mittens -- lobster mittens allow some needed dexterity. Gloves under the mittens. Face mask. Wool, flannel and Carhartt outerwear. Insulated boots or rubber overshoes. You don't necessarily need all the flashy high-tech wear.
- Tip from a pro: Messenger Andy Larson explains: "I've worked days when the high is five below zero. Obviously in the morning, it's a lot cooler than that." So Larson waits until the temperature falls below zero to wear a face mask. "That's how you make 20 feel tropical and nice. ... If you're putting on a face mask at 30, you're missing out."
FOR YOUR BIKE
- It's simple: If you coddle your bike, don't ride it in the winter. Spend $200 and get a beater bike for the season.
- Single-speed? Consider riding a single-speed bike. You don't want to be shifting gears while your derailleur is full of street slush.
- Maintenance: Before riding in snow, take apart your bike and put it back together, cleaning and greasing it. Remove the seat post, clean and grease. Or take it to a bike shop like One on One, the Hub or Erik's for a complete winterization. Keep your bike clean all winter -- especially the chain. Wipe off salt and grime at least once a week.
- Gear: Fenders are recommended. And you may want to consider fatter tires. Studded tires are great for riding glare ice, and can add peace of mind and versatility to an icy commute. But what's more important than the gear is knowing how to use the gear you have in the conditions you are riding.
- Tip from a pro: The Hub Bicycle Co-op's Bobby Brown recommends putting a drop of oil where the spokes enter the rim. The lube will act as a water and salt repellent.
HOW TO RIDE
- Take your time.
- Take corners carefully and stay alert to anticipate problems ahead.