Monday, November 21, 2022

Winter Riding Tips

Let your body and terrain be your guide.

Whether you're aiming to ride in 45F or through a New England winter, take it in stages. Things to consider are listed below in order of importance, devoid of recommended brands (other than lights) - you probably have cold weather layers in your closet. Your comfort level, goals, and climate are also important factors. And remember, it's a process.

Know your body
Do you run hot or cold? Under most winter conditions - darkness, rain/snow - means you'll generally be slower than in summer, spring, or fall. Prepare to be snug and warm when setting out, paying attention to the big three: head, hands, and feet - you can always remove clothing as you warm up.

Know your route and forecast
Preview your preferred commute. Are there bridges, depressions that collect water, hills to be aware of ahead of dropping temperatures? Allow extra time to understand changing conditions and to get to your destination on time. Pay attention to the forecast before heading outdoors. Let common sense be your guide.

Length of time outside
Allow time to learn about your personal cold weather tolerances. Think of it in terms of how long you'll be pedaling rather than distance traveled. Can you stay warm for a 15 minute ride? One hour? Factor in stop lights and intersection crossings if those are part of your route. I discovered I'd stay plenty warm for a 30 minute ride in any temperature.

Take it one step at a time
Start with pedaling when roads/paths are dry/clear. Focus on how to stay warm. You'll develop confidence. Then, if desired, perhaps you'll take it to the next step, riding on snow, if that's of interest. Just riding in colder weather can be liberating!

Day or night
Nighttime rides offer an added dimension: can you see what obstacles lie ahead? Can you spot that icy patch or downed limb? There's no substitute for good lights. Cygolite, Nightrider, and Light & Motion are all great brands among many others. All offer a range of pricing and brightness settings. 500 lumens is a good starting point - plenty to light up unlit bike paths, not to mention wild creatures, plus oncoming pedestrians and cyclists who failed to illuminate themselves.

There's no magic formula
If you want more ideas, check out the following blogposts that illustrate my progress:

2015 - 2016 finding a light, 3 weeks in, the learning curve, motivation, 

2016-2017 gearing up for the 2nd year, preferring to be in control

2017 - 2018 freedom is a down jacket, knowing my limits

2018 - 2019 starting to ride on snowy paths

2020 - 2021 The next level: Studded tires, warm boots, lined helmet, bar-type mitts

1 comment:

  1. Ice and snow are no go for me. I don't have the tyres or the body for them.


Due to increased Spam, I am moderating comments. Thank you for your patience.