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The days are shorter, shoulder season has passed, and winter is really settling in. But you still want to go for a ride! Or maybe you’re thinking about commuting, and wondering what it would take. We’ve all seen that cyclist riding home during a rush hour snowstorm, somehow smiling, despite the cold, snow, and traffic. What’s up with that?

To make your cold weather riding experience a positive one, here are some hot tips from the Bike Fed:

  • Dress in layers! If you overheat and start to sweat, when you cool off you’ll get really cold. So having the option to take off a midlayer is really nice. [It’s a really good idea to pay close attention to the forecast!] One interesting thing with cold weather riding is that the temperature can swing quite a bit as the sun goes down. Ice melts and then refreezes!
  • Consider trying little hand warmers and toe warmers – wool socks and warm gloves are great, but it can be really tough to keep the extremities warm in the cold.
  • Many bike clothing companies make insulated hats to fit under a helmet. Despite seeming to be very thin, they make a big difference in warmth! You can pair them with a neck gaitor or even a full head covering.
  • People in cars might not expect to see cyclists out in the cold, so any bit of enhanced visibility is helpful – high vis gear, head and tail lights, and reflective bits on your outer layers are all nice. It’s their responsibility to drive safely, but it’s nice to help them in that goal.
  • During the summer you might normally wear glasses, but struggle with them fogging up in the winter. Sometimes you might find that goggles work, other times you might go no glasses – figure out what works for you!
  • If you find yourself enjoying the winter commute and wanting to ride in more conditions, consider adding some winter bits to your bike – fenders are great for wet, slushy or any other mixed conditions. You can also add bar mitts, which are like gloves for your handlebars. And if you find yourself worrying about traction or staying upright, they do make studded tires! Landing on your side after hitting unexpected ice can happen very easily, and it doesn’t make for a pleasant finish to the commute.
  • You might go a little bit slower, but that might be safer and more enjoyable. Embrace the fresh air, and plan accordingly.
  • Have fun! It can be so liberating to be out on your bike, especially when you (or others) don’t expect it. There are many physical and mental health benefits to commuting!