Thursday, January 22, 2015

Real World Tips from Winter Bike Commuters

Some great reasons for getting around by bike: 
Even in the rain it’s not a problem because I have rain gear and I’m not out there long enough to get really wet.  I love the feeling of the cool fresh air on my face at the end of the day.  That first little hill always makes me smile. ~from Charlotte

I ride every day regardless of the weather since I no longer have a car. This is my first winter riding and it is going great. My favorite part about riding is that when I arrive home after a long day at work, my stress has melted away and I feel refreshed and ready to spend the evening with my family. ~from Yoshi
I commute everywhere [by bicycle] because I have a broken car! ~from Io

And some tips from commuters who are out there doing it year-round:

My best tip for winter cycling is to take the long way home.  It's too dark by 5:30 to safely ride a heavy traffic road in rush hour. However, finding back roads to ride at a casual pace helps to keep me in the saddle day after day.  Oh, don't underestimate the fantastic services provided by Intercity Transit through highly congested areas!!!! ~from Abe

I’ve been a bike commuter off and on for decades—only doing the year-round thing since 2008. The keys for me were good lights, a commute that is mostly off busy roads, and a work schedule that keeps me within ½ an hour of sunrise/sunset. While I don’t ride in slippery conditions (no snow or ice for me!), I’m not deterred by rain, wind, sleet, or cold/dry (at least until it gets below 25, and then I wimp out). ~from Melanie

I don’t do much to stay dry on my commute. I wear old running shoes and nylon shell pants and jacket, and hang them to dry in the office. We have a locker room so I can shower and change before work. The most important piece of equipment, besides my bike, are my homemade bucket panniers. They are totally waterproof and have reflective stickers for high visibility. I’m a budget rider, so no fancy gear. ~from Steve

My winter necessities: Good lights. Gloves. Balaclava. Rain pants. Enthusiasm! Creative avoidance of dark and busy roads. ~from Joe

Tips for winter cycling: stepping off the porch is the hardest part of a cold – or wet – day commute. Once you get rolling, you usually find it’s not as bad as you thought it would be. I avoid ice, snowplowed road driving (the shoulders disappear and large chunks of icy snow can unexpectedly block your path) as well as windy days. Period. Waterproof shoe covers and fog-free safety glasses provide immense comfort in rain or sleet – I find that the glasses actually help keep my cheeks warm. ~from Linda

 The single most important winter cycling accessory I've discovered is Bar Mitts. Even in frigid weather, I can comfortably ride and my hands stay warm. I ride a commuter with Shimano trigger shifters, and XL size Bar Mitts were necessary to prevent the shifter from hanging up on the Bar Mitts. ~from Ken

 I bike commute year round with most of my ride on the Olympia Woodland Trail. Your winter biking tips are great, especially the tip about reinforced flat-resistant tires—upgrading my tires was the best bike-related purchase I ever made. Upgrading my headlamp was also a good decision. ~from Trent 

During the winter I ride my fixie. It’s less wear and tear on the geared bike. I cleaned my bike yesterday and probably shaved a few ounces removing the grit and pine needles that accumulated in my fenders. ~from Jed

Lots of light (front and rear) and bright, warm clothing make a 20-minute, one-way ride easy!! Even in the strongest morning rainstorm, when I get to work and peel off the wet outerwear to reveal perfectly dry work clothes, I feel a little like Bond peeling off his wetsuit to reveal a perfectly creased tux!! It’s just a fun feeling. ~from Matthew

One thing that has been an annoyance about riding in bad weather is the lack of a shield that keeps the rain off the face.  After experimenting with a few primitive hacks, I think I’ve found something that works pretty well:   X-shield by Raygear.  It’s a ¾ face vented clear shield that doesn’t fog up.  It’s a little spendy ($45), but I’ve used it a couple of times now, and it seems to do the trick. ~from Rick

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