|Riding indoors sucks|
I wonder how long it will be before someone asks their local bike shop to help them put their e-bike on their trainer for winter.
Are you tired of winter yet? You could try a gravel ride. I hear the people are really friendly.
|Bryan, quick: which way is heaven?|
|How many pictures of Santa on a bike have you seen already?|
Non-profit organizations do this too.
Did you know they’re giving away a Surly Krampus?
|That’s my krampus though. You can’t have it.|
Also, I like People for Bikes, I really do. I support their mission. And, I’m a member of their organization. You can tell what’s coming, right? There’s a big old BUT coming.
But this article is not helpful to those looking for winter riding tips.
|MC Hammer works everytime|
This technically true. Any tool in your toolbox can be used to drive a nail. But if you’re using a pair of pliers to drive roofing nails, then you’re going to have an unpleasant experience and some shitty shingles. Wouldn’t it be better to use a hammer? And, if you are driving on sloppy, snowy, or ice covered roads, wouldn’t it be better to get some advice on the right tool for the job?
If you take nothing else from this post, know now that curvy women are striking out in Perth, Austrailia. Shame, really.
|That should be fine. Whatever.|
I understand why People for Bikes would say that it’s fine to grab whatever bike you have and ride it in whatever you’re wearing. Their mission is to get people out on their bikes. So, rather than discourage people from riding in winter, they try to make it seem super accessible. Like “sure, what the hell, just grab your bike and head out the door. It’s cool. Ride any bike and wear any clothes”
But this, it might have just the opposite effect. Instead of having a positive experience, a new winter rider may just head out for his first ride on whatever bike, with whatever clothes and have a miserable experience.
The article goes on to say that not only can you ride any bike, but any clothing is fine too. “You really don’t need much for specialized clothing.” This is no help either.
But I don’t want to be a negative Ned. I don’t want to just criticize, I’m here to help. So, I have compiled my own list of tips for winter riding.
Uncle Dan’s Top 7 Tips for Winter Cycling:
It‘s cold in winter. Many riders who are better than me don’t like the cold. Their solution? They don’t ride outdoors in the cold. Shocking, I know.
You probably won’t enjoy it. It’s cold. Your desire to ride has to be stronger than your dislike of the winter weather. It’s not for everyone.
(2) If you do it, don’t tell your families and friends about it. Nobody cares.
Remember the first time you rode with no hands as a kid? You probably shouted “Look Mom, no hands!” She didn’t really care then, and she doesn’t care that you ride your bike in the snow now.
And enough with the snow-selfies already.
|Duck-face snow selfie. The goose is all like “look at me, I’m waddling in the snow!”|
Also, your friends and family don’t want to hear about your bike ride anyway. They will react with either boredom (“Is he talking about bikes again?”) or annoyance (“He’s one of the assholes in my way when I’m headed to Dairy Queen for an Oreo-fudge Blizzard.”). So just keep it to yourself.
(3) If the roads are dry and clear, it’s fine. I take back everything I just said.
If the roads are clear, and there’s no precipitation, just about any bike will do. It’s just like any other day of the year, just colder. For these days, just dress warmer (see below). Just go ride your bike. The remaining tips are meant for riding in winter when there is snow, slush, or ice.
(4) Use wide tires at low pressure.
Take fat bikes, for example – they are booming for winter riding. What fat bike riders have found is that the ultra-wide, low pressure tires offer a huge contact area with the ground, providing grip where narrower, harder tires slip.
So, if you want to ride in winter weather, at least lower your tire pressure. This will give you more grip on the road and will provide better handling in slippery situations.
Better yet, ride a bike with wide, low pressure tires. Me, I prefer a 29er with fenders. I run at a decent pressure when the weather is dry and drop the pressure for precipitation.
I know that some people will say they ride their fixies with high-pressure skinny tires all winter and they’re fine. Yeah, you can do it. And you’re a badass for doing it; congrats. But you’re better off on a mountain bike.
|Are those (gasp) 28s?|
(5) Disc brakes.
|Um, nope. Image from allweathercyclist.com|
I learned this lesson when I had to lay down my bike to prevent rolling through a red light at a downhill intersection. Dammit.
Disc brakes don’t freeze. Therefore, disc brakes.
(6) Relax. Also, learn some bike handling skills.
I can’t teach you bike handling skills in a blog post (or anywhere else, really). But what I can tell you is that, as my bike handling skills have improved, I crash less in winter.
Not to say I don’t still fall down. I do. Usually, a fall happens right after I think “Hey, this bike is handling pretty well in the snow.” Once this thought crosses my mind, a crash is imminent. Proof of god, if you ask me.
You shouldn’t take my advice on bike handling. But, here it is anyway: relax.
When I hit an unexpected patch of ice, I try to relax and roll straight through it, centering my weight on the pedals. This goes against every impulse in my body, which is screaming “STOP” or “GET OFF THE ICE”!
I want to tense up, get flop sweats and grab a fistful of brakes. Or try to change course for a clear patch of pavement. But braking and turning will likely cause me to slide and crash. So I fight the urge.
I slow down gently (if possible), modulating the brakes, and I don’t change direction unless I have to.
Also, learn how to fall. Falling hurts, but is sometimes necessary.
(7) Wear layers and not cotton.
I previously explained my approach to dressing for cycling.
The gist of it is this: wear layers. The underlayers should be wicking, because you will quickly heat up and will sweat. Cotton sucks. It holds the sweat close to your body and can make you very cold and uncomfortable.