When it’s cold outside, when it’s rainy, snowy, or freezing, most people don’t even think of riding a bike. Between October and January, the average commuter will not touch their bike. Instead, they would simply take the train or the bus.
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In a normal winter, the subway or the bus would be a perfect choice. This year, in turn, even those with a visceral distaste in doing any kind of outdoor exercise in the winter may want to consider cycling to work. If the inherent benefits of biking wouldn’t be enough to convince them otherwise, there is one thing that may do the trick: the ongoing pandemic. Make no mistake: the risk of contracting the disease that’s ravaging the world around us would be much smaller if everyone adhered to the recommendations of the public health specialists – but as many don’t, using public transport day after day might just be a risk not worth taking.
Biking in fair weather is an easy task. When the days are short and the air is crisp, in turn, it becomes a different matter altogether.
Prepare for the heat
Fair-weather bikers probably think that biking in the winter means you’ll freeze your behind off. Actually, the opposite is true: it’s very easy to overheat. But as most of us have different tolerance for cold, “overheating” will mean something different for each of us. If you are new to bike commuting in the winter, it will likely take a bit of trial and error to get your perfect combination of layers just right.
… and the cold
Biking in the winter is a totally dual feeling: on one hand, the exercise will heat you up, on the other, the headwind will freeze off your extremities. While your torso will probably feel comfy and warm even when wrapped in a thinner layer of clothes, your hands, feet, and face will likely not.
Layering up is vital when biking in the cold. Choosing a softshell jacket that only has soundproofing in the front should be the perfect choice – while it will protect you from the front, it will allow your back to vent, thus preventing overheating at the same time.
… and the wet
When you bike in cold and wet weather, there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind is splashes. If you don’t, you’ll likely end up with a trail of dirty water that’ll leave ugly marks on your back. Maybe even the back of your head. This can be avoided by adding a few extra fenders to your bike.
Finally, make sure you do a thorough pre-winter checkup before hitting the road, coupled with preparing your bike for the cold days ahead.
Aside from the fenders mentioned above, you’ll need tires that are fit for riding in wet weather – studded ones or ones with heavier threads will do best. Also, make sure your brake pads are winter-specific so you’ll be able to ride safely.
Speaking of safety – make sure to wear brightly coloured clothing when riding in the winter. Being visible on the road is vital, especially when the days are gloomy and the nights are longer. And make sure you have your lights in working order to further improve your visibility.
If you’ve never tried biking in the winter, not to mention commuting, it may be a scary thought to pedal when it’s freezing. Winter biking is definitely not for everyone but it’s a great way to stay healthy even when it’s cold… and to avoid crowded trains, subways, and busses while going to work – a good idea in the current public health situation.