By Pico Triano
Photos: Shawn Whitelaw
This is the time of year when the ranks of active cyclists is thinned out considerably. Winter in Canada and yet cycling is still possible. I have commuted right through several winters. I have a cycling motto: All season, all weather, all the time. For me cycling is not just a great way to stay in shape, it is transportation.
To answer a couple of questions: Yes, it is more difficult and it is potentially more hazardous. It is not approaching impossible though. With the right equipment, it is even enjoyable.
A regular bike can fit the bill for most of your winter riding. As long as the road or path is clear your only real concern is dressing properly. There are specialized winter trail bikes that will allow you to ride in just about anything but I have no real experience with them. The one I saw was cool though. Too bad one of those balloon tires was flat and the rider had to hike out with it.
Last winter on a Walmart mountain bike I only missed one day of commuting because of the weather. The problem had more to do with the ploughs not having gone through than anything else. I’m not going to exhaust myself floundering through ten kilometres of deep snow trying to get somewhere.
How you dress is key. I have included some very ugly pictures of myself dressing in my layers for a run out in winter weather. I modestly omitted the underwear layer. That’s pretty standard anyway.
The between layers all are optional depending on how cold it is. Try to wear clothes that breathe. Even riding in subzero weather, you will perspire. If your clothes breathe and wicks the moisture away from your skin, you will stay warmer.
I wear a wind proof shell on the outside. Winter wind can be murderously cold. That protection from the wind can make a huge difference.
Of special note is how you take care of your extremities. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Good boots are as important as winter socks. On my head I have a fleece cap that fits between my head and helmet, ski tube and throat protector all specially made by my wife. You can spend a lot of money for similar equipment.
I find ski goggles fog up and do better without. I don’t like baklavas because I find it difficult to adjust everything back in place if I have to blow my nose. Trust me. You will have to blow your nose.
Winter cycling is your own choice. You are responsible for your own safety. This isn’t intended to convince you to go out and ride. It is meant to offer some practical advice on how to make it easier if you’ve already made that decision. Make sure you can be seen and don’t try to ride in heavy traffic. In the winter you especially need to be alert because most drivers are not expecting to see you out there.
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