Trail Ramblings: It’s (Almost) That Time Again.

Every year. It’s the annual exhortation to keep riding into the fall and winter. Plenty of people retire to their basements for sessions on the trainer, and that can be quality time spent staying in shape, but you can still get out and enjoy it. There’s no replacement for the fresh air and sunlight, and maybe even snow. Not to mention it can be FUN to ride in the snow, especially if you have a fat bike, but it’s not necessary. Winter riding does not have to be uncomfortable or dangerous. Most of the obstacles, I’ve found, are in your own head. Having said that, however, it’s essential to know the basics of how to dress for the conditions.

It can feel great to get out on a bike on a winter day.

I’ve included here a few tips for the uninitiated, or for those that just want a more comfortable ride in the winter. First, repeat after me: “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Wrapping your head around the fact that you just need to layer up and be careful not to overdress is perhaps the first obstacle for newbies. (Don’t wear your winter coat) Also, avoid cotton, as it will trap moisture next to the body, chilling you when you stop. Include a base layer, a wool or wicking thermal synthetic layer and maybe a shell to stop the wind to keep a little more heat in if it’s really cold. Plastic bags over wool socks may do the trick for your feet, cutting wind infiltration. If foggy glasses is an issue, try non-fogging ski goggles, they’re great.

Yours truly in typical gear for the day.

You may find a second use for that Covid mask- it keeps your face warm. You do need to pay attention to keeping your hands (and wrists), face and feet warm and dry. The same gear you might use for winter hiking or running may serve you riding, but you will experience more wind chill, so the hands may require more attention. Lobster claws- split mittens, or pogies, mitts that fit onto your handlebars are game changers.
As far as your bike goes, you’ll want a knobbier tire. Studded tires are an option for increased grip on ice and packed snow when it accumulates. Also, use a chain lube made for wet conditions. Fenders will keep you and your bike cleaner.

One variety of pogie.

So that you can do more research on your own, I’ve included here a number of useful links. I like the fact that the first three are by some of our neighboring states’ universities, Iowa, Colorao, and Montana. Copy and click.