Editor’s note: This feature originally appeared in our sister magazine, Dirt Rag. These tips apply both on and off road, so we wanted to share them with you here. Each of the links goes to the Dirt Rag website.
By the Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times staff
When the temperature drops and daylight wanes, many riders confine themselves to an indoor trainer or hang up their bikes altogether for the winter months. True, winter riding presents unique challenges, but it also reaps great rewards. Aside from the physical benefits of riding all year long, winter riding opens up a world of opportunities for adventure, fun, and natural beauty.
Part 1: It’s all in your head
Part one begins with a single step…outside. The mental decision to brave the elements is often times harder than choosing the appropriate gear for your ride. When you’re warm and cozy inside your bed/house/car, the prospect of getting all geared up and facing physical discomfort in the form of cold, ice, snow, and/or rain doesn’t seem like it would be all that much fun. Indeed, often times the first 15 minutes of a winter ride are uncomfortable, but after a good warm-up the fun begins.
Part 2: Toes and feet
In the second installment on winter riding and how to enjoy it, or at least survive, Shannon focuses on the all-important toes and feet. Keeping this area of the body warm and dry when the temperature drops below freezing can be a struggle. With the proper foot gear though, a trail ride or commute to work can be as easy as slipping on a pair of socks.
Part 3: Legs
In the third installment of our cold weather riding series Justin moves up the body to talk about keeping one’s legs warm and comfortable as the mercury falls. The legs are an often-overlooked aspect of cool weather cycling considering they are our primary source of power. Keeping your knees warm is paramount to preventing unnecessary wear and tear of the joint, while keeping your muscles warm will help to prevent strains and pulled muscles, as well as torn ligaments.
Part 4: Layering your torso
As we continue to work our way up the body, Eric explains the ins and outs of keeping your torso toasty. Layers. You knew that already didn’t you? Installment four in our series covers two different layering systems that work well into the low twenties.
Part 5: Studded tires
Karen covers the topic of studded tires, a very valuable tool for winter riding. Studded tires are one of those things that may not be useful a large percentage of the time, but for those times when they are useful, they are absolutely essential.
Part 6: Face
Matt provides some tidy tips on keeping your face warm and clean during your winter riding sessions. S’not a problem when you read this.
Part 7: Physical limitations
There is a panoply of excuses we can choose from when wimping out of cold weather riding. Some of them have more validity than others, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be overcome. Here we address a couple of physical limitations that can be good reasons to bow out of a cold ride, but that don’t necessarily need to stop you, especially in their milder forms.