Don’t want to hang up the helmet and banish your bike to the garage or storage unit just because there’s a chill in the air? Hooked on bike commuting a heart healthy, eco-friendly, socially distanced and SAFE way to get where you need to go? Here are some tips to keep you rolling well into the winter months.
Cover your ears: The wind in your hair may be invigorating in spring, refreshing in summer, and bracing in autumn, but come winter? Guard against frostbite with a headband or a gaiter, a balaclava or a beanie. Ear-warming options abound, but do bear helmet compatibility in mind.
Layer up: Apparel adjustability is key for comfortable winter cycling. You’ll need more clothing at the start of a ride than you’ll want once your blood’s flowing, so it’s best to dress in layers (and have somewhere to stow layers once removed). (Un)zipping outerwear and (un)tucking shirts can help you maintain your desired temperature.
Insulate your extremities: Try to shift or brake with fingers numbed by cold, and you’ll find you’ve lost your usual dexterity. Keep your digits toasty—and your responsiveness tip-top—with three-finger gloves or pogies. (Three-finger gloves are a cross between gloves and mittens, while pogies encase brake levers, shifters, and hands in one wind-shielding cocoon.) Toes can also easily become icicles, so winterize your footwear. Choose thick socks. If you wear cycling shoes—typically well ventilated—consider adding shoe covers to your kit.
Fuel your ride: The cold outside is easier to face with something warm in your belly. Down a cup of coffee or tea or a bowl of oatmeal or soup before saddling up, and the residual warmth will make the prospect of the frigid air less daunting.
Bring a warm beverage: Want to re-up that inner warmth mid-ride? Can’t imagine guzzling 35-degree water in 35-degree weather? Get an insulated beverage container that fits in your bottle cage and fill it with tea, coffee, or hot cocoa. You’ll be glad you did!
See and be seen: Winter’s shorter days often necessitate biking in low light or outright darkness. Make sure you can see and be seen: Invest in front and rear lights, and incorporate reflective clothing and accessories—vests, ankle straps, arm bands—into your cycling attire.
Have a Plan B: Forecasters don’t always predict when a cold rain will turn to a slippery mess or a snow squall will dump an inch of the white stuff while you’re still an hour’s pedal from home. Have a transportation alternative in case inclement weather unexpectedly makes it unsafe for you to finish a ride. Know your public transit options; have a friend or partner on speed-dial for emergency pick-up. Best, too, to have a lock with you (Altor’s ultra-portable APEX, perhaps?), even if you don’t plan to make any stops. That way you can protect your bike against theft should you need to bus, carpool, or walk home and come collect your ride later.
With proper gear and a little planning—all the extra bundling and provisioning takes time, so schedule accordingly—you *can* continue cycling even as winter sets in. Hooray for more scantly trafficked trails (and a great way to burn off any holiday indulgences)!
Contributed by Sophia D. Merow, a member of the Altor Locks team, who relishes the camaraderie that develops between the relatively few bicyclists who travel on two wheels year-round.