How to Stay on Your Bike Through the Winter
When the weather warms up a bit and the sun is shining, there is nothing better than a bike ride. Oftentimes, on Sunday mornings in the spring, my husband and I will hop on our bikes and trek down to the local farmers' market. I stuff my handlebar basket full of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and croissants, and then we'll ride home while enjoying the sunshine. It's quite idyllic, really. However, before spring arrives and the weather is frosty, are bike rides out of the question? For some, probably (my bike hasn't seen the light of day since September). But for others, there's no reason that a little bit of cold air should prevent you from enjoying some two-wheeled time outdoors. Here are some tips on riding safely and comfortably throughout the winter months:
#1: Don't skimp on safety.
Depending on where you live, the winter can bring with it icy roads and less visibility for both bikers and motorists. This means that the roads are more slippery and, if you're not smart about it, you will not be visible to oncoming traffic. This kind of sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, right? Veteran pro cyclist Ted King says of winter bike safety, "You're less dexterous and cars don't expect to see you on the road. Don't be an idiot. Ride only in your comfort zone." Stick to the bike lane, utilize blinking head and taillights even during the day, and ALWAYS wear a helmet.
#2: Dress appropriately.
If it's cold outside before you get on your bike, think about how it's going to feel once you get going and the icy wind is whipping you in the face. Take extra precautions to stay warm and comfortable by dressing in warm, breathable layers, a thin but insulated hat under your helmet, goggles, and gloves. Furthermore, if it's really frosty, consider purchasing some chemical hand warmers to stuff inside your gloves during your ride (numb hands are not a great idea for a bike ride).
#3: Don't push it.
While you may be pining for an outdoor ride, don't force yourself to go in really unfavorable conditions in order to do so. If it's just too cold/icy/windy/snowy outside, consider skipping the bike ride. There's always tomorrow (or next month). Instead, consider hopping on an indoor stationary bike for an hour or so in order to keep your muscles in prime condition for the next time you can get out on your beloved bicycle.