January 31, 2013

It’s cold out there, but you can still get around on two wheels. Bike riding is great for your health and for keeping our air clean and clear. Here are some tips for winter bike riding that will keep you warm and safe!!

  1. Be sure to dress warmly and in layers. You’ll need:
  • Warm waterproof boots
  • Warm gloves (Wear thin wool gloves underneath warm mittens. This will keep your fingers warm when you take off the mittens to lock or unlock your bike.)
  • Thin balaclava for under your helmet and  / or earmuffs/ear covering
  • Glasses or goggles to keep the snow out of your eyes
  • Scarf or neck warmer that can cover your mouth but still breathe easily. A long scarf allows you to wrap your neck and face, but it also has long tails that you can use to cover your chest underneath your coat.
  • Warm hat or nylon skull cap that fits underneath your helmet
  • Long underwear if it’s really cold or leg warmers that cover your knees
  • For longer (sweatier) rides, it’s a good idea to make your under layer that is closest to your skin one made of wool or a synthetic material. Cotton tends to stay wet longer and may end up cooling you down, whereas wool tends to hold moisture.
  • Good coat, preferably windproof.  If your coat is black, be sure to wear a reflective safety vest.

2. Make sure you are extra visible during this time of year. Daylight hours are fewer and winter conditions make driving more difficult, so drivers may not be looking for you. Make sure you have:

  • Lights- for you and your bike. Use extra ones if you want to be even more visible. A strobe light can be seen from greater distances, but should be combined with another fixed light.
  • High vis clothing with reflective tape
  • Light coloured clothing, if possible

3. To brave the snowy / icy conditions, outfit your bike with:

  • Mud guards on your bike.
  • Brakes that are in good working order, and a bike in a good state of repair.
  • Apply low temperature grease in bicycle bearings to make them easier to pedal and steer. Some bicycles have grease in their freewheels that can cause problems when it gets very cold. Repack bearings in the fall with low temperature grease and call it winterizing.
  • Wide studded winter tires at low pressure (start with 15-20 psi and experiment for yourself. Sometimes 5 psi feels great.)

4. Use the right technique:

  • Pedal smoothly and keep your back upright
  • Make small corrections on ice, rather than overcorrecting and weaving which might send you flying sideways!
  • Try not to brake hard on the slippery sort, or if you must, use only your rear brake. Watch for dry patches where you can do your braking or turning.

For more winter riding tips, check out: http://www.allweathersports.com/winter/winter.html#Lube