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Getting Your Winter Groove On

David Meltzer | Published on 12/5/2017

A short guide to Winter cycling

The days are shorter.  The weather is colder.  Many of your friends have hung their bikes on the wall until March.  BUT, there are a surprising number of riders who do ride throughout the year.


FIRST:  There is a saying that goes, "There is no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing."  Any winter rider will tell you (often in nauseating detail) about their winter gear.  Forget the bulky ski jackets.  The idea here is to wear layers which better help to regular your temperature.  Everyone has their own ideas about warm clothing, but here is what I generally wear.  If your feet are not happy, you are not happy.  I have a lightweight liner sock and a heavy winter sock.  Truck has flip pedals,  so I ride on the platform side in insulated lightweight hiking boots.  Other good options are booties and foot warmers.  On the bottom I normally wear long underwear and heavy sweat pants.  Up top, I have a lightweight liner shirt, heavy jersey, polarfleece and a wind resistant jacket.  I always have a sleeve for  my neck, which is a good multi-tasker.  Make sure that you wear a hat that covers your ears.  Cold weather balaclavas are also a great bet for the coldest days.  Finally, liner gloves and heavyweight gloves.

SECOND:  Even though it is Winter, you still sweat and you can still bonk.  Make sure that you continue to take your water and continue to drink.  That said, I have always felt that a hot beverage during a winter ride is a wonderful thing.  I normally have a thermos full of hot coffee, tea, or apple cider.  Alcohol may provide temporary warmth- but thins the blood and too much can lead to hypothermia.

THIRD:  Safety, Safety, Safety.  I do not mind challenging the cold temperatures.  However, I will not challenge the snow or icy surfaces on our streets.  There are several things to consider. Not only are the streets themselves more slippery - the snow often makes the roads more narrow as the snow takes up the bike lanes.  Further, folks will shovel out their cars, and leave large chunks of snow and mush in your pathway.  Think about taking the bike with the fatter tires.  Remember that fallen leaves and metal street plates are not great for traction.  

Don't you love those summer days when it stays light until 8:00 pm?  In Winter, night falls like an anvil after about 4:00 pm.  As you never know what happens on a ride - make sure to take your lights with you whenever you leave the house.  

Hypothermia is reduced body temperature that happens when a body dissipates more heat than it absorbs.  In mild hypothermia there is shivering and mental confusion.  In moderate hypothermia,  shivering stops and confusion increases.  Any of these signs - warm beverages and find a warm place to sit for a while.  Take the train home.  


There is a feeling of exhilaration as you meet and conquer the elements.  The groups of riders are smaller and more cohesive.  And there is nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a winter lunch break.  There are those wonderful looks of "you must be crazy" as you pass groups of pedestrians or explain what you did that weekend to your co-workers.  And of course, every mile that you ride in the winter - is one mile closer to being in riding shape this spring.  Sure, you can get a trainer and ride inside - but what fun is that?  Unsure???  Check out one of our club rides and see if you like it.