Now that cold weather has finally arrived, no need to hang up your iron (or carbon or aluminum) steed. Winter weather can be a rush to bike in, as long as you are prepared. Start with these simple tips to weatherize your ride.
1. Get your ride right
Nobody wants to do roadside repair in freezing weather. As any cold weather biker knows, as soon as you stop moving, the cold can really sap your energy. Make sure your ride is right before you hit the road. Make sure your tires are well inflated – without leaks – keep your chain and gears clean of debris, and keep everything well lubricated. Also, don’t forget your roadside kit, including an extra tube in the off chance you do need to change a tire.
2. Safety is the name of the game
When weather gets cold, the ground gets slick. Make sure your helmet fits well and is properly buckled. Sunrise is later and sunset is earlier, meaning the chances of your commute being in partial light (or complete darkness) are greater. Make your ride shine with headlights, tail lights, and reflective gear. If you can be seen from all directions (don’t forget from the side!), you’ve got a better chance of staying safe.
3. Better luck with layers
When getting dressed for a cold weather ride choose appropriate layers and don’t over dress, you should start out slightly cool as you’ll heat up when you hit your stride. Use moisture wicking materials against the skin and a good insulating layer to pull moisture further away from your body. If cold AND rainy – hello Northwest! – add a water repellent layer on top, and try to dry your gear as much as possible before you head out again.
4. Don’t be a wolf pack of one
Unlike Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, you probably have some friends to ride with. But not everyone is getting up before the crack of dawn to hit the road like you are (you animal you). How to find your wolf pack? I asked Hannah Faires, Outreach and Events Coordinator at Commute Seattle, and here’s some of the tips she had to get started:
- Send out a company email to your colleagues to see if anyone wants to start a Bike Buddy Program (check out U of W Bike Buddy Program for example)
- Use social channels like Twitter to find cyclists in your neighborhood, or on your route – try using hashtags #bikebuddy #Seabikes (for those in Seattle, or use your city’s abbreviation) & #biketowork along with your ask
- Use cycling apps like Strava to create and share routes
Briana Orr, Communications Manager at Cascade Bicycle Club, said the CBC can be a great resource to find other cyclists looking to share routes. Use their bike commuting forum to find other riders in your area, or make friends on the trail and exchange info for meet-ups or co-rides!
5. Know your route
On the subject of route finding … know yours! Winter riding is not the time to experiment. Pick your route carefully. Remember that spot that’s always wet in the fall? Well, it’s ice now. That stretch of road with leaves piling up in the bike lane? Total road hazard. Choose your route wisely young grommet, and you shall return home unharmed.
Whether you’re a savvy winter-commuting veteran, or a noob looking to gain the respect of all your foul weather biking brethren, follow these steps to stay safe and warm this winter.