Winter has come, but even the freezing cold, slippery road, and low visibility won’t stop all avid cyclists from riding their bikes. While you can choose to cycle in winter, it’s vital to be cautious and prioritize your safety. It’s a fact that winter presents more hazards to cyclists, including the ones mentioned above. That said, keep in mind these tips to stay safe and warm while riding your bike outside.
With the snow and gloomy weather, it’s a given that visibility is low during winter. As a cyclist, increasing your visibility is one of the most effective ways you can keep yourself safe on the road.
Wear high-visibility clothing, like bright neon clothes and reflective clothing, every time you ride your bike outside. You can also wear a helmet and gloves outfitted with LED lights to further increase your visibility.
Take it up a notch by outfitting your bike with a lighting system. With it, you’ll be visible even in the dark with little to no streetlights (although you should avoid riding through dark routes for safety purposes).
Unlike cars, bikes don’t have heaters, and you’re completely exposed to the cold on board the saddle. Your only defense against the chill is the clothes against your back, which is why it’s immensely important to dress according to the weather.
Since you’re not competing in speed, you don’t need to only be wearing Lycra sportswear. During winter, you should layer up and wear warm clothes that won’t hinder your movement.
Your winter attire should consist of three layers:
- Base layer. Choose fabrics that wick off sweat while keeping you warm.
- Mid layer. Wear clothes that have excellent heat retention while remaining lightweight.
- Outer layer. Go for an outer shell that’s waterproof and windproof.
Here’s a helpful guide to help you dress for outdoor activities for all seasons.
Inspect Your Gear
Make sure that your bike is in top form before leaving your house. Check the brakes, chains, wheels, etc. For the tires, proper tread is essential to keep a firm hold on slippery road surfaces. You may want to change your usual bike tires with ones that are made for winter for better riding and greater safety.
Keep your bike clean at all times, and store it in a dry place after use. Some parts can freeze in low temperatures and stop working even after they have thawed. Moisture from melted snow can also cause the metal parts to rust after being exposed to air several times.
Ensuring that your bike is in perfect condition will reduce your risk of getting into an accident and increase your safety on the road.
Adjust Your Style
Winter isn’t the time for daredevil stunts when you’re cycling. If your usual riding style is to go fast and hard, then change it, for the next few months, at least.
To stay safe while riding in winter, you need to adapt your style to the weather condition. That means no speeding uncontrollably and being extra careful and vigilant while you’re on the streets.
Cycling in winter can be more taxing to your body, mind, and bike, so learn to take it slow and pace yourself. Monitor your pedal power output to properly pace yourself when riding. Overexerting while pedaling might be dangerous.
Relieve Achy Joints
Achy joints are common during cold weather. The pain and discomfort can be a huge hindrance when riding your bike. If you have sore joints, muscles, and bones, better relieve the pain first before attempting to ride your bike.
Here are some ways you can relieve achy joints during cold weather:
- Layering warm clothes
- Getting a massage
- Exercising regularly (preferably indoors)
- Applying kinesiology tape on the site of pain
- Taking vitamin D supplements (prescribed by your doctor)
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) medication
Cycling is a low-impact exercise, making it a safe exercise for most people with arthritis. However, the winter weather may make one more sensitive to the pain, so it’s better to minimize their time spent outside.
Check the Weather Forecast
Always check the weather forecast before leaving the house. Temperatures can dip dangerously low during winter, and even the warmest clothes won’t be able to protect you against the cold while you’re getting to your destination.
In the event of a storm, you’d be safer and warmer inside your car than on the saddle of your bike. Plus, you can get home faster and curl up in front of your fireplace, sipping a warm cup of high-quality matcha green tea.
Staying safe on the road is every cyclist’s top priority no matter the season. However, it’s true that winter presents more hazards to cyclists (and other road users, for that matter). That is why you should take extra care and attention while riding outside during the next few months. Keep in mind the tips on this list, and put your safety first at all times.