When the mercury dips, a lot of us hang up our road and mountain bikes with a twinge of regret. Winter is plenty fun (thanks to fat biking), but we know we’ll miss our fair weather two-wheeled steeds till the snow melts. It’s a sad fact of life, but what if you didn’t have to say goodbye? Below are six tips and tricks to keep you on your bike even in the colder months.
1. Stay dry, not bundled
It’s a common misconception that more layers mean more warmth, but for high-output activities in cold temps, sweat is your worst enemy. To avoid getting clammy, it’s important to find the perfect balance of breathable layers that also shield you from wind and precipitation. Start with a wicking base layer like the Link to keep your core day, add mid-layers based on the temp, and leave precipitation to outer layers that will stand up to the elements like the Rale Pant and Cross Wind Jacket.
2. Add salt to keep water from freezing
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, but did you know that dehydrated bodies get colder than hydrated ones? That means your frozen bottle can have some serious consequences. Try adding a high-sodium drink mix to a bottle of warm water right before you head out. The heated water will take longer to cool down, and once it does, the sodium will keep it from freeing any harder than slushy status.
3. Double Bag your Tootsies
There’s nothing worse than cutting your ride short because your feet have started feeling more like frozen cement blocks. Luckily we have plastic; for really nasty weather, try putting a newspaper bag over your sock and under your shoe, with a wrap of duct tape at the ankle if you’re feeling fashionable. Zip a pair of neoprene booties over your shoes, and you’ve got an indestructible weather shield for your feet. This retro solution sticks around because it works!
4. Be a Road Warrior
It’s a fact that winter drivers are more concerned about staying on the road than about who else might be occupying it. Winter is one of those times when you can’t have too many lights; be as visible as you possibly can with high-powered offerings like the Urban Family from Light and Motion. Also, keep spray to a minimum and invest in a set of fenders. They’ll keep your back dry and keep slush out of your eyes.
5. Put a lid on it
One advantage humans have over other animals is our amazing ability to dissipate heat from the tops of our gigantic brain-containers. It’s great if you’re a hunter on the African savanna, but not so much if you’re a cyclist in a snowstorm. Keep your BTU’s to yourself. So put a Lid Beanie on that dome. If you want to look extra-cool, a shower cap over your helmet will keep in even more heat. Your extremities will thank you.
6. Extra Credit: Prepping for the next ride
You had so much fun battling the elements that you can’t wait to get out again, so become a pro at drying things quickly. Stuff crumpled newspapers loosely in your shoes for a next-day dry, and remember your coat! A dirty jacket won’t breathe and will shield you less effectively than a clean one, so toss that sucker in the wash. Winter doesn’t have to be the cycling doldrums; with a little planning you can keep those wheels rolling year round!