Snow Cycling Inspiration

Via The City Cyclist

What I Wear For Winter Cycling

It’s officially winter in Toronto. That time of year when many people believe outdoor physical activity grinds to a halt. It’s that time of year when excuses are passed off as reasons and it’s that time of year when I keep on doing what I do… riding my bicycle.

In the spirit of “how to do it” posts, here’s a look at my winter cycling wardrobe.

Let me state first that I tend to “run hot.” For some reason, I have a great tolerance to the cold. I don’t mind the biting wind on my cheeks and only once the temperature drops below -10 C do I add an extra layer to my legs.

That said, let’s look at outfit #1… the everyday ride:

1. Wool jacket with light lining (pocket handkerchief for running nose is essential).
2. Wool scarf
3. Toque
4. Merino wool sweater
5. Cotton shirt
6. Jeans (reflective strap since I don’t have a chainguard)
7. Fleece gloves
8. Merino wool socks

Not pictured: fleece long johns, leather boots.

My everyday rides take me to the grocery store, to the bank, to a new remote office (coffee shop), to the library. These are all short trips that see me on the bike for no more than 20 minutes at a time. In light snow, I’ve never had a problem with wet clothes and because I have a set of full fenders the amount of slush and grime spray on my shins is very minimal.

When I reach my destination I sometimes remove the pant strap and I’m ready to go. Easy as pie.

In addition to grocery hauling, errand running my bicycle is my only “exercise machine.” So, for longer, harder rides where I’m cranking up my already burning internal engine I dress differently… here’s a look at the active rider:

1. Waterproof/Breathable shell
2. Wool cap with ear flaps
3. Fleece half-zip
4. Merino wool base layer
5. Soft shell pants
6. Liner shorts
7. Lined water resistant gloves
8. Merino wool socks

Not pictured: Gore-tex hiking shoes, helmet

My goal on longer, harder rides is to have my outer layers block the wind and my inner layers fight to manage sweat. While I like the bright blue jacket for visibility, I bought it because the fabric is reliably wind resistant and waterproof and because it was on sale.

In the end, I suggest wearing what you feel is comfortable. I like my “advanced plastics” outer layers as much as I do my natural fibre one. Each outfit works for what I want them to do and finding the right mix that suits your body and your needs is how I feel you should determine what to wear on your bicycle in any weather.

Winter Cyclist Taxonomy

remind me to try this sometime

The Pacific Northwest Inlander looks at four types of winter cyclist:

THE METAPHYSICIST

Stealthy, swift and undeniably easy-going, the Metaphysicist doesn’t own a car. This type rides for pleasure — defying the norms of everyday transportation. You can spot him by the twinkle in his eyes, the ease with which he rides, his lack of concern over distance and weather.

THE BIKE GURU

This breed of winter commuter has a bike for every occasion. These specialized rides cost more than a lot of people’s cars, and they rip through the ice and snow better than any vehicle on four wheels. The Bike Guru is identifiable by his bicycle tattoos and his mastery of technical lingo.

MR. BUSINESS-CASUAL

This winter cyclist is equally at home in the conference room and the intersection. For Mr. Business-Casual, commuting is practical and efficient. His bicycle, like his briefcase, is an extension of his being — like an extra arm or a leg. Look for him to be wearing dress slacks and a sweater vest beneath his cycling jacket.

THE MARY POPPINS

This winter warrior rides because it makes her happy. Mary Poppins takes her bike into the grocery store, to work, and into her friends’ houses, because she forgot her lock and no one has the heart to tell this merry nanny “no.” She rides in dresses, baskets and bells.

Read the full article here: Winter Warriors

Where do you fit on the list? Personally, I’m trying to be a “Mary Poppins” but no one is letting this guy bring his slush covered bicycles inside anywhere!

Photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Group

Winter Bicycle Riding Tips From The UK

Bike By

While we’ve really only experienced a few days of winter-ish temperatures here in Toronto we all know that snow and constant cold are right around the corner.

Whether this is your first or your fiftieth winter on your bicycle this article from the Guardian offers up some excellent winter cycling tips that are applicable to Toronto as well:

• It’s natural, when you’re a bit anxious about conditions, to ride leaning forward and tense, with your hands on the brakes. But try to relax the hands and arms, and keep your weight back.

• As in any slippery conditions (such as very wet roads), do your braking early and as much as possible in a straight line. Definitely only use the front brake in this way; otherwise, use the back brake more. And you can also use the back brake to test the amount of adhesion you have.

• Try to steer “with your hips” rather than your hands: in other words, make directional changes progressively and with your whole mass on the bike, rather than by sudden sharp steering inputs at the handlebars.

• As snow gets grooved by car tyres and refreezes, you can encounter rutted tracks and momentary “tramlining” effects. Deal with this by allowing the front wheel of the bike to go where it wants; again, keep your weight back, stay relaxed and don’t be too ambitious about your speed.

• Mostly, on British roads, the snow is cleared or turns to slush quickly, but beware of transitions from snowy side streets to clear roads: this is where you’re most likely to encounter ice or tricky ruts.

Read the full article here: Tips on how to cycle in snow

GI Joe BMXer photo by LexnGer

Care-free Winter Cycling

Video via Vélo d’hiver – Montreal – Bike Winter on Facebook.

Marcus Gee is a Winter Cyclist and Darn Proud of it!

Marcus GeeThe guy to the right swears he’s not nuts. He’s one of the 10% of Toronto cyclists who ride all year round. Sure, that number may be larger this year since it hasn’t been much of a winter… but that doesn’t make him (and us) any less proud.

Marcus Gee, we salute you!

From the Globe and Mail:

Folks, a rusty steed is a friend indeed – even in winter

It’s liberating at any time of year to avoid the restrictions of driving or public transit and set out on your own, a free agent of the street. In winter, with the sharp, fresh air on your face, it’s exhilarating. You begin and end your day with a little adventure. As the winter cycling website icebike.com puts it, with perhaps a trace of irony, “You arrive feeling very alive, refreshed and with the aura of a cycling god.”

The cold is no big deal. Your body heats up fast when you’re pedalling. I get by nicely with a waterproof Gore-Tex windbreaker with office clothes (and, okay, long underwear) beneath. I wear a thin wool tuque under my helmet. When it’s really cold – say, minus 10 or worse – I add a polyester balaclava that covers everything but my eyes.

For the hands, I have a pair of those lobster-claw gloves with two fingers instead of four and a fleece strip on the thumb for nose wiping, a bonus in the eye-watering cold. On my feet, I wear thick wool socks under pull-on Blundstone boots.

If it’s slushy or rainy, I complete the ensemble with a pair of canary-yellow rain pants. With front and rear helmet lights flashing after dark, I look like a safety-conscious ninja assassin, but most of the time I’m perfectly warm. If you ski or skate in the cold, why not bike?

Read the full article here

Photo via Globe and Mail

The Least Expensive Winter Cycling Accessory You Need

At least in Toronto, this accessory costs just 5 cents. It’s free with a purchase in many other cities.

The plastic bag!

That mighty little bag is a lifesaver as winter turns to spring and you never know what will fall or drip on your bicycle seat.

The solution to winter snow and slush – a “track” bike

Via Toronto Star

Via Toronto Star:

Preddy said he rides for recreation and to stay in shape. His Ktrak kit converts just about any mountain bike into a kind of pedal-powered snowmobile, with a ski in the front and a track wrapped around a back wheel. A full kit will cost almost $550; the track alone, about $420.

And if the Ktrak’s creator has his way, bikes like Preddy’s will join the crush of winter traffic on Toronto streets before the year is through.

“I absolutely see it as a commuting tool,” said Kyle Reeves, the Ktrak’s 37-year-old inventor, from his home on Vancouver Island, B.C. “Most commuters aren’t going to use the ski on the front … just the track for its traction.”

Michael Costello, a long-time winter cyclist and proponent of automobile euthanasia, rides his bike year-round for financial reasons.

“I put down my last car 14 years ago, and I save about $7,000 a year by using a bicycle,” he said.

There are plenty of options – all less transformative, and less expensive, than the Ktrak – for cyclists looking to winterize their bikes.

Michael Cranwell, general manager of Duke’s Cycle on Richmond St. W., suggests attaching fenders to your bike and swapping for studded tires, which cost from $70 to $110 each. Lights are important, too, for days when visibility is poor. “What’s most important, is dressing for it – having the right gear.”

Full article here

More info on Ktrak here

Ktrak