Well it looked like we might be in for an early thaw here in Northern Colorado, but despite the local groundhog’s best efforts, it looks like we’re in for a few more weeks of cold. But ice and snow don’t have to mean your bike must stay tucked away in the garage.
Here are some helpful tips for first time winter bikers, and timely reminders for those who’ve been riding ice for years!
1. Don’t Wear Too Much
The first thing that many people think when considering winter bike commuting is that they’re going to be freezing cold. However, biking in any conditions generates heat, so the real problem is to stay cool enough. Wear breathable layers for your first couple of winter rides, and be sure to remember a hat and gloves, as ears and knuckles get the brunt of the wind. Top it off with a light coat that has vented armpits if possible.
2. Watch For Ice
Those who’ve seen what black ice to do to those poor car commuters on I-25 might be terrified that the first patch of street ice they hit is going to send them to the emergency room, but navigating slippery areas is a skill that doesn’t take that long to learn. First of all, TAKE IT SLOW! Cruising around that corner at top speeds without knowing if it’s iced over is a bad idea. When in doubt, stop pedaling and get ready to use one or both of your feet for balance in case you hit a slippery spot. For those that are really commited, studded tires can also be helpful for maintaining traction. (And, as always, WEAR A HELMET!)
3. Be Ready For Night Riding
In case you haven’t noticed, the sun sets earlier in the winter time, and even many mornings can be overcast and gray, making visibility a nightmare. Be prepared and always utilize a headlight and reflective clothing, especially when biking around in the late afternoon, or home from work in the evening.
More winter riding tips can be found at Bicycling Life (a site for everyday bicyclists) and ICEBIKE (home of the winter cyclist and other crazy people!)
Image Credit: The Real Estate Resource Team