By Pico Triano
I’ve met a number of people interested in riding their bicycles year round. Even known quite a few who said they were going to do it. Up here in Canada being a year round cyclist is no easy feat but it is possible.
The summer is coming to an end. If you aren’t preparing for the hard part of the cycling season now, it isn’t going to happen. I’m not saying that you can’t start when the weather is at it’s toughest. My experience is that those riders don’t carry it through. They might do it for a few days or even a week but I’ve never seen them ride longer than that.
Preparing for the weather coming can be thought of in three areas: Conditioning, clothing and equipment.
You should start conditioning now. I’m not just talking about getting into physical shape. There is more to it than preparing your muscles.
Think of it as getting slowly into the water when you go to the beach. The water may feel too cool when you first get in, but once you’re used to it, the water temperature is just fine. The same is going to happen while you train through the fall. You will become accustomed to the lower temperatures slowly. If you ride all through the fall by the time winter arrives you will be ready for the colder temperature along with having the necessary stamina to ride.
It is physically more difficult to ride on a road covered in a layer of snow than bare pavement. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. If you are riding now and continue through the fall you will be ready for that as well.
Clothing is not difficult to choose for you winter riding as long as you remember to dress in layers. This was covered in an early issue of this webzine http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/12/dressing-up-moncton-maniac.html. I found that I added layers as the weather got colder and then peeled them off as spring came along.
The clothing and conditioning go hand in hand. Because I was physically accustomed to the weather I was able to wear less bulky clothing, with fewer layers to achieve the necessary protection from the cold.
If you have an operable bicycle, you should be fine. There are important things to consider though. Winter weather is hard on a bicycle and you need to be ready for it. Snow will strip the oil off your chain as efficiently as any degreaser. Salt spread on the road will also attack your bike.
Best advice is to make sure the bike is in good working order. Be prepared to do maintenance you normally don’t have to do very often – like oil the chain. It is also wise to bring your bike indoors with you when you are not riding. If you’re weird about your bike like a lot of us serious riders are then it won’t be difficult to convince you to do that.
Winter cycling is not all bad. I actually prefer riding in weather about ten degrees below the freezing mark, even if it’s snowing, to rain. Snow doesn’t soak in. You can brush it off. The snow also absorbs a lot of sound and if you like peace and quiet you will enjoy some really serene moments out there riding.