Bicycling to work or for fun does not have to end just because summer is over. In fact, winter biking can be an exhilarating activity that helps you stay fit, burn off stress and may just make your daily commute a little more pleasurable. Before heading out into the fresh snow, take a few precautions to ensure you can enjoy a safe, fun ride.
1. Dress warmly.
Light layers are best, but try to avoid overdressing since you will be producing plenty of your own heat. Wear a base layer that will wick sweat away from your skin, add a fleece top to insulate and top with a brightly colored or reflective soft shell or waterproof jacket depending on the weather conditions. Because your head and hands tend to lose heat quickly, wear a warm stocking cap under your bike helmet and add waterproof cycling gloves.
2. Prepare your bike.
Winter roads with ice, salt and sludge can be particularly rough on your bike. Single-speed bikes may be the best choice for many riders, but you can still ride your favorite multi-speed bike if you are able to rinse road grime off of it and lubricate the drivetrain frequently. Switch to wide, knobby or studded tires to grip the road more effectively, and add LED lights to make you more visible to motorists.
3. Know your limits.
Ride at a safe pace, and when the roads are slick, use only the rear brakes to stop. If you start to tilt, lose traction or feel like you are losing control, take your feet off the pedals. Check the weather forecast before heading out, particularly if you are planning a longer ride, and take snacks and drinks along in your bag to refuel as needed. Consider outfitting yourself with the Dakar 100 Hydration Pack and keep your water easily accessible while biking. If you are riding to work, be aware of public transportation routes so that you can divert your ride if you become fatigued. The OGIO Commuter backpack is perfect for people commuting to and from work on their bike. Durable and waterproof, this bag keeps your electronics safely organized.
Before you head out for a brisk winter ride, tell a friend or loved one your planned route in case of emergencies, and wear your ID on your person or in your bike bag. Taking a few moments to prepare yourself and your bike can ensure your experience is as safe and healthy as it is enjoyable.