4 Quick Tips for Winter Cycling

No matter what the groundhog said (and why do we listen to a rodent’s weather predictions anyway?), much of the country will still be in winter’s grip for at least a few more weeks. For some of us, staying inside to ride or taking a spin class are good enough options.

But if cabin fever has you antsy to get out there for a bike ride, here are four quick tips to help you succeed.

Layer, layer, layer! It is important to dress for success in cold, wet or otherwise unpredictable conditions. Start with a thin, moisture-wicking base layer then add an insulating one. Top it off with a water resistant wind breaker. You can always take off a layer if you get too warm, but you don’t want to be 15 miles in and realize you’re unprepared for the day’s ride.

Safety first! While the days are indeed getting longer, you still need to outfit your bike with proper lights so you are visible to other road traffic. Check weather conditions before you ride. File your “flight plan” so someone knows where you are headed. Cycle defensively and always wear your helmet.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! You may not feel as thirsty when the thermometer’s mercury is low. But it is just as crucial to maintain proper hydration during a ride in winter as it is in hot summer months. Take along a hydration backpack and drink lots of water.

Take care of your bike! The thought of getting the hose and washing off your bike may not be appealing on a freezing February afternoon. Residual sand and salt from icy road treatments will eventually take a toll on your trusty steed, and it’s better to take care of cleaning it off right away. Look at it like this; you wouldn't wait three days to take your own shower after a training session, would you? Respect the machine, and it’ll take care of you.

Think of the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you rise to the special challenges of cycling outdoors in the winter. Avoid the boredom of staring at your garage wall while sitting on a cycling trainer, outfit yourself and your bike correctly, and get out there for a ride.

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