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Winter Cycling Tips

Winter has finally reared its ugly head here in the Northwest. However, just because it is winter does not mean that you have to give up cycling. It may take a little bit more motivation to get out and ride when it is cold and gray, but a good ride always does the body and mind good. In order for your winter ride to be safe and enjoyable you need to winterize your bike and your body. It is always recommended that you ride with a partner especially if you will be going to a remote location.

Your Bike

Winterizing your bike can be completed in just a few minutes and it will ensure that you won'tget stranded. As with a ride in the spring or summer, it is important that your bike be in good repair. Extra attention should be taken to keep the bike clean, especially the chain. It is important to Keep the wheel bearings, brake cables, derailleurs, and brake levers well lubed.

Having good tires is a must for winter riding. If you live in a wet climate, narrow tires with widely spaced knobs are best. In the snow a wide tire with widely spaced knobs is recommended. Studded tires are very effective if you will be riding in snow or ice exclusively. You can make your own studded tires by inserting #2 machine screws through a tire. Use an old tube between the screw heads and the inflated tube to prevent flats. In the snow use a low tire pressure between 30-40 PSI.

Fenders are very useful for winter riding. They keep much of the mud, snow, or water off of your bike and your body. Aluminum or steel fenders are best in extremely cold climate.

When the roads are wet it will make braking harder and your stopping distance will increase. On the road, leaves, manhole covers, and gravel can be challenging. Anticipate braking and be aware of turns. Keep things smooth on the turns and avoid braking during a turn. Driveways lips when icy or wet can cause problems. Enter them perpendicular to avoid slipping the front or wear tires. Bicyclists are not as visible to cars during the winter months. Ride defensively! The days are shorter so use a front and rear light and wear reflective clothing.

On the trail in wet or icy conditions, rocks, leaves, sticks, and other obstacles become potential hazards. Braking when the rims and pads are caked with mud or snow is very difficult. V-brakes stop much better than traditional cantilever brakes. Tread lightly to prevent soil errosion.

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Last Updated On: 10/16/02