Trail Ramblings: Give Cold-Weather Cycling A Try.

I’ve noticed there seem to be more people out riding this November than in years past. It’s easy with the mild temperatures we’ve had, but what about when the temps truly take a turn? It can still be enjoyable, The biggest obstacle is between your own two ears. If you think you can do it, you can, with the right gear and planning. With that in mind, I’ve re-posted a blog from 2019 about how to dress for cold weather riding, with commuting in mind. You don’t have to buy bicycle-specific gear. You may already have what you need. Just remember that your hands and face will be most affected by wind-chill. Depending how far you’re riding, perhaps feet, too. You’ll want to not over-dress your core, and to dress for about 10 minutes into your ride, starting out a little chilly. Also, make sure you have lights for the shorter daylight hours. International Winter bike to work day is coming up February 10 and it’s not too early to start planning. Here’s my re-post.

Some of you already ride in the cold, others don’t even consider it. Why not? This morning may have been nippy at 27 or so degrees when I set out, but it was beautiful otherwise. This evening I came back in the snow, but the pavement hadn’t formed ice yet, so I was happy. There was no wind and this morning it was sunny and dry. What’s not to love? I saw others out riding so I wasn’t alone in my assessment. I haven’t put the Bar Mitts (pogies) on my bike yet, but I was fine in the lobster claws, as it was going to warm up above freezing quickly. I wore a pair of very DIY gaiters made from disposable hospital blood circulation leg wraps with reflective stripes I stuck on in back.

Yes, they look nerdy (or ghetto, you choose) but they’re great at keeping my legs warm (and clean) in these in-between temps, and safer in low light. I fought the urge to put on an insulated jacket. I knew I would quickly be sorry if I did. I already was wearing a light-weight sweater and a shell was all I’d need. One thing that might have been nice was some light-weight face protection. My facial skin is tough, however, and it wasn’t a big deal. Another thing that got my attention was the feeling of icy fingers creeping up my wrists. I need cuffs on that jacket to stop the wind infiltration.

Just like on roadways, bridges freeze before trail surfaces.

I think much of the challenge for those new to cool/cold weather commuting is just wrapping their mind around not overdressing. Do carry another layer if you think you might be stopping outside for an extended amount of time. I have to remember to prepare for those times I’m off my bike outside and bring along warmer clothing for standing or walking, as I’m so used to cycling in the cold I’ve been under-prepared once or twice for how much colder it gets off my bike.

Photo Credit: Copenhagenize

I’m including a couple of links on winter commuting here to help get you in the mood. One for the basic how-tos of riding in winter conditions, and the other focusing more on dressing for the cold and wet. There is plenty written and recorded on the subject, and it’s good to do your research, but the best knowledge is gathered from personal experience. I know riding outdoors in the winter (with the possible exception of dragging my loaded bike over unshoveled curb-cuts) does wonders to elevate my mood during the months of dark and cold. Enjoy!