Cycling in winter is not an activity many of us are excited about. If you're like me, you've probably already signed up for spin classes or dusted off the indoor trainer for the long dark and cold days ahead. When it comes to winter cycling, forecasting and planning your ride is key as well as dressing appropriately. Last year I talked myself into doing a few winters rides and quickly learned that braving the elements takes time getting used to but having the right tools to equip your winter rides will make adventuring out in the cold worthwhile. Here are some helpful tips to keep you dry, warm, and happy on your winter rides.
Cozying up with a base layer, merino wool jersey, gloves, neck warmers, merino socks, fleeced winter tights, shoe covers, a winter cap, and windproof technical wicking jacket make a perfect layering combo for keeping extremities and limbs warm. These types of layers are high wicking and fast drying to keep you cool and dry even when working hard while protecting you against the cold and wind. Never underestimate the power of layering with high performing materials, you'll be ready to shed off a few at the end of a ride. Cafe du Cycliste and Rapha sell high performing winter gear perfect for below 50 temperatures.
With all winter road conditions, it's impossible to cycle without having the proper knowledge, gear, and prepped bike to get you through. To insure your safety on a ride, monitor conditions of the roads and daily weather patterns. Check your gears and breaks, be sure to lube chains with waterproof lube as wetter conditions and road salt wreaks havoc on the materials on our bikes. A great pair of snow file tread tires that give more grip when the roads and trails when they are wet. To keep your bike in top shape all winter, be sure to clean after rides it from water, mud, and dirt from the road.
Last year, I took a sunny ride out after a few nights of snow and had my first encounter slipping on black ice on a turn. One technique I learned right away is that going slow and keeping your bike upright on a turn is best when road conditions aren't clear. Knowing how to use your breaks during winter is also different than other seasons. Braking must be done carefully in winter, reserving limited traction of the front wheel for steering. In winter it's better to brake with the back wheel while transferring weight to the rear to keep upright. While turning on snowed and icy roads, never brake while turning, instead drag the foot that is on the inside of a turn. Winter braking takes practice but soon enough you will get the hang of using the right techniques for the roads.
It's hard to psych yourself up with freezing temperatures outside but one thing to realize is that everything around you is changing and you'll see some beautiful views that you otherwise wouldn't see in summer. It's also good to have something to look forward to, a bowl of soup, a warm cup of coffee, and the rush of good feelings from being outdoors when the days are dark and long. No matter how bad the weather gets, there is always something lovely to find along the way.
For more tips on winter cycling:
What You Need To Know To Cycle In Winter
Winter Cycling 101
image courtesy @cafeducycliste