This past week, we had the pleasure of working along side Aaron Crandall and the Madison Bike Winter crew to help promote and participate in the Winter Fashion Show at Machinery Row Bicycles in Madison. I was excited to see so many different types of riders present and the fashion show was fantastic. It really hit home that staying warm, dry, and visible while commuting in the winter doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and the models all brought their own unique perspective to the table as they one by one walked the runway in their winter gear.
Last winter was my first winter commuting and I was surprised by how much easier it was than I had thought it would be. It was easy for me to psych myself out in years past and only commute by bicycle until the first snow hit, but last year I met the challenge head on. At this point, I had commuted almost exclusively by bicycle for several years during the spring, summer, and fall, and bicycling in winter is very similar to bicycling in the summer – Here are some things I learned in my first year of winter commuting that you might find helpful:
It is possible to dress to warmly
I found myself “bundling up” as the temperature dropped and even on my two mile commute would arrive a sweaty mess. Not only can dressing too warmly cause you to overheat, the additional clothing can restrict your range of motion and impact your ability to see your surroundings, which is a safety hazard. If you are warm when standing outside, you are likely dressed to warmly. Remember, you will be generating some serious heat when you plow through those snow drifts. One way to overcome this is to dress in easy to remove layers.
Keep your hands and feet warm and dry
While your midsection will warm itself up more quickly than your car would on your morning commute, your hands and feet need a little help. It is a good idea to invest in some heavy duty gloves and insulated boots. I especially recommend gloves with some sort of wind stopping technology. If you are on a budget, you can always layer gloves as well.
Studded tires are worth the investment
My local bike shop sold me on the virtues of studded tires prior to the first snowfall, and I’m glad they did. Not only did the metal studs cut through ice and keep me upright all winter (more on that later), but the softer tire compound gripped in wet and slushy conditions as well. At no point last winter did I feel out of control or in danger riding on the mean streets of the near east side, and I largely credit this to my studded tires.
Lower your seat
In winter, it is also advisable to lower your seat position to allow for more stability when you need to stop or in the case you do take a spill. You will be a bit slower, but lets be honest – on studded tires wearing two pairs of paints in 2 ft snow drifts – your going to be slower anyways.
My favorite runway model from the Winter Fashion Show was Peter Gray
, a member of the Wisconsin Bike Fed Board of Directors
. He shows us that it is possible to go from bicycle to board room in just a few minutes, even in the dead of winter. Photos are below, enjoy!
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.