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9 Tips to Riding Your Bicycle During Winter

Updated on October 1, 2013

Cycling in Winter

Cold snap to blanket country in snow
Cold snap to blanket country in snow | Source

Follow These 9 Tips to Stay Safe

1 Dress for Winter. Protect yourself and wear the proper clothing / gloves/ hat/ shoes / helmet always / consider covering your face to avoid a frostbitten nose.

2 Good gear. Make sure your equipment is in proper working order. Tire pressure shrinks in the cold. Use large tread tires or consider getting studded tires (good info here). Keep your moving parts oiled. Use a deicer on your lock.

3 Be visible. Use flashing lights even during the day incase there is bad weather that hits quickly during your ride. Lights are so cheap and can save your life.

4 Know your route. It is important to plan out your route and know your directions before you start out. Try to avoid making adjustments to your route on the fly. You should take into account the traffic patters that occur during poor weather and how they can change.

5 Stay connected. Always carry a cell phone incase of emergency. Unexpected things can happen during winter commuting for both cars and bikes, and it is always good to be able to call emergency services to help out someone else in need. Also have emergency numbers programmed into your phone, or written on a piece of paper in your pocket, wallet or backpack. This will help someone identify you and make the correct call if you have an accident.

6 Check in. Let a friend or family member know that you are traveling by bike and check in with them shortly after you arrive safely at your destination. If you are traveling to or from work, you can arrange to check in with someone there. It's as easy as a text. It is also a great way to form a new relationship with someone based on a common interest.

7 Stay focused. We all know freshly fallen snow on tree branches looks amazing – and that a small man digging out his Mazda Miata burried up to the rotting convertible top is funny, but please keep your eyes on the road. Control your speed and keep an even pace. Avoid ruts. Keep your balance centered. Do not worry too much about drivers or other cyclists. Your main concern is to stay upright and minimize chances of the bike coming out from under you. The major cause for this is the bicycle tire getting stuck in a rut, entering a turn with an inappropriate speed, or allowing the center of gravity drift off center.

8 Improve your traction. Let out a little tire pressure so that more of the tire makes contact with the road.

9 Take it slow. Don't try to be a hero. People will think you are cool just for riding in the winter. You don't need to beat your time or take a super dangerous route. Remember the most important thing is to be safe and have fun. You want to get where you are going in one piece. Having said that, these are still very cool.

Bonus Tips for Cycling in Winter

Bonus Tip 1 Keep a hand warmer in your bag or pocket incase you need to take off your glove to make a repair or tune your equipment during very cold temperatures. A hand warmer will help get the blood in your fingers moving again should you need to expose your fingers to the cold.

Bonus Tip 2 Make sure your health insurance policy is in good standing. This will protect you if you do have a severe physical trauma like partial decapitation or deep lacerations to the pelvis, abdomen, or extremities.


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