Tips for Biking to Work in the Winter
By Brooks Sido, Washington Area Bicyclist Association

The colder season is not necessarily the time to hang up your wheels or entrap your bike in a wind trainer! This is the perfect time to take advantage of abandoned bike paths and cool weather that allows you to ride to work without sweating through every layer of clothing. Remember the wise tale: "there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."


The new conditions that you must deal with during winter are:

Lighting

Riding in the dark can be frightening, considering that riding in the city in broad daylight is frightening enough. Today’s lighting systems, however, take away some of this fear by providing lighting that not only makes you visible but makes the world around you visible as well. Lighting systems are a whole dissertation in themselves, so I’ll go over the basics.

Entry level, being seen

Big Leagues, seeing

Ask your local bike shop to explain the differences between all the models so that you can pick a system that meets your budget, riding time, and particular visibility needs.

Bringing up the rear

Lower Temperatures

Dressing yourself and your bike for cold weather riding takes more time than when you’re doing your 70 degrees-with-a-light-breeze commute.

Dressing yourself

As with any cool weather activity, layering is the key to success:

Dressing your bike

Your bike needs to be protected from the perils of winter as much as you do. Winterizing your bike will not only help prevent untimely "mechanicals" that make you late for work but will also protect your investment from undue wear and tear. Winter in DC means wet roads covered with road salt and grit. Aside from pouring sand on your drivetrain and pouring acid into your frame tubes, no other combination is as deadly when considering your bike’s long term health. Here are few ways to protect your bike:

In summary

Even though Winter commuting takes more time and more caution, you’ll find that keeping your riding habits intact over the winter makes the season go by more quickly with you in better shape for when the temperatures come back up. Besides, riding to work beats sitting in traffic or riding on your trainer -; but you knew that already!

This article was reprinted with permission of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

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