Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter riding tips

For the most part, this has been a great winter for bike riding.  We have had some really mild temperatures and not a lot of snow.  I know people are intimidated by the thought of riding on ice and/or snow, so I thought I'd share some tips for winter riding to get you motivated to try it.  Came up with 7...lucky number huh?  Most important - select the "right" gear.  Bear this in mind as you read on...

1.  Do not use your expensive full-suspension mountain bike.  The moisture, sand, salt and grit can ruin your suspension, frame and gears.  Go find an inexpensive bike, preferably fully rigid, at a yard sale, craigslist, etc.  Couple other things to consider for your bike.  Tires and rims get a lot of build up riding in the winter, so mechanical disc brakes are a great choice for a winter bike.  Also, the more gears you have, the more chance for failure.  Derailleurs and cable/housing systems do not work very well in the cold or when they get full of grit.  Single speeds, internal hubs, or 1 x 8 or 9s are great choices.  Lastly, put some fenders on there for protection.
here is my Globe winter bike
2.  Ride straight and take it easy on the brakes.  Sudden turns or a hand full of brakes can put you on your butt.   Brake using the rear brake only to avoid skidding, and be gentle.
3.  Invest in some studded bike tires.  Don't have $100-200 to invest in a set?  Stay tuned for my next blog where I will attempt to instruct you on making your own.
4.  Protect hands and feet.  It is hard to keep extremities warm when it is already cold out and then you add some wind chill from spinning down the road.  Many companies make winter bike gloves (lobster gloves are a good choice) or use your ski gloves.  There are winter biking shoes also, I just wear a light duty pair of snow boots with platform pedals/cages.  Ditch your clipless pedals.
5.  Layer up.  No cotton, it is evil.  Wear a wicking layer and then fleece or wool over it.  Remember, you will be getting a workout, so don't dress too warm.  You don't want to be sweating.  Dress so that you stay cool and just on the verge of breaking a sweat.
6.  Cover the head.  Wear a skull cap under your bike helmet or wear your ski helmet.  Helmets help to break the wind as well as protect the noggin.  Cold air hurts the eyes and will make you cry for your momma, so wear full wrap glasses or goggles if it is really cold.
not a fashion show, grab a ski helmet if it's real cold
7. Have fun and grab a buddy, it is way more fun to laugh at your friends falling than at yourself.

This may all sound like a lot, but it's not.  It is no more involved than any other winter activity.  So suit up and go explore.  Start out on bike paths or side streets around town.  When you feel comfortable, move to the main arteries or the frozen lakes/rivers for a real thrill!  Hope to see you out there.
in case you were curious, ok after the crash

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Wow! Really great tips. Thanks for the laughs! Loved the pic of the rider on the road. :D peace tracy