Winter Cycling: 10 Safe Ride Tips get you through it

(CCN) Not a great deal of people look forward to winter cycling in Canada, because for the most part the temperatures and riding conditions are not ideal. But for many, bike riding on slippery roads, and ice cold may be a necessity. It is important to alter your habits and in turn keep safe.

For those living in municipalities, bicycle riding may be a preferred mode of transport in winter. Road conditions are ‘not to bad’ and parking with bikes is not a real issue. Cycling offers a person free from traffic jams, and in some cases short cuts through parks and trails that motorist will never enjoy.

Then again, there is the reduced fuel costs and the joy of being environmentally conscience.

Whatever your reasons for pulling our your trusty ride, here are ten tips that will help you get through winter cycling in Canada.

  1. Choose the Right Bicycle – Pulling out your family heirloom is not the answer. Nor is using a bike with front suspension smart. The salt alone spread on roadways can destroy a full-suspension mountain bike. Sand, salt and grit will destroy gears and that perfect group-set you saved up for. It is best to pick up an older bike, even a single speed ride for those winter months.
  2. Prepare your Bicycle – Salt, grime and wet are the enemy of your trusty steel steed. Make sure the bike is tuned, and the chain is clean and oiled before the season. Clean and oil the chain weekly. If you are using a multi-speed bike, make sure that your derailleurs, and freewheel receive the same attention.
  3. Rubber is your Best Protection – No truer words have been spoken in polite company. Here is where being a stud really counts. Carbide-studded tires can give you real comfort on the slippery days. Most MTB tires 1.75″ to 2.25″ wide with good grip have an inflation range usually between 40 to 65 psi. Pumping them up to 65 is not the best answer in slippery conditions.
  4. Caution Road Conditions – Although most winter roads are often the same dry pavement as in the summer due to good snow removal. Sanding, salt and daily sun melting ice with temperature changes can cause slippery patches that can surprise you. Pay close attention of corners, potholes and intersections, where vehicular traffic tend to polish the surfaces.
  5. Check your Six – Drivers are less aware of cyclists during winter months. Ride defensively and be aware of your perimeter. Always make eye contact with drivers and install a flashing taillight bright enough to be seen through fog.
  6. Slow and Steady will win the race – Watch for the icy patches and slow down. Be prepared to take your feet off the pedals if the bike starts to fishtail or tilt. Only brake using your rear pads to avoid wipe-outs. This is where you constantly assess, assess and assess again the road conditions.
  7. Protect your Core – Heat loss can happen fast and without notice. Layers are the answer and tighter fitting jackets. Riding can get you to sweat, and that is when the shivers creep up. A good combo for a rider to wear is a warm shirt followed by an insulating fleece top, finished off with a waterproof and windproof jacket. Treat your legs the same way. Most people wear jeans, but make sure you have insulated long underwear. Don’t allow wind up your trousers, or up your jacket.
  8. Protect your Extremities — Head, hands, feet and eyes are where you will suffer the most. Always wear a toque or balaclava under your protective bike helmet. Goggles can drastically reduce wind burn on your pupils. Mittens are better than gloves as each finger will keep warmer. Carry your runners or shoes in a pannier, and wear those winter boots your mom always nagged you about. On warmer days, you can get away with bike shoes, by adding a neoprene cover to improve insulation.
  9. Leave your Bike Outside but Protected – Heating up the bicycle inside daily will only accelerate decay and rust due to salt and grime. Most people don’t have time to meticulously clean and oil the moving parts daily. So the best answer is keeping the bike cold, between cleanings, but make sure it is secured from those nasty, low-life, no-good, bike thieves.
  10. A City Bus is your Back-up – Many public transports allow bikes carried on or racked. Contact the transport authority in your area and check what the rulings are. Alberta weather tends to switch on a dime, and perhaps you get a few kilometers down the road and things change. Pride comes before a folly, so hopping on a bus just may make the difference to your day. So choose a route nearest bus route.

If you need your bicycle safety checked or tuned for the winter months, you can BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT HERE. Circuit Cycle picks up and delivers.

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