Friday, November 16, 2012

Winter Riding Tips: Part 1

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM

click to enlarge DSC_0250.jpg

Like everything else in this blog, I don't know much about Winter bike riding. I guess I've thrown that "write what you know" adage entirely out the window. In an attempt to prepare myself for the cold weather, which seems to have snapped upon me out of nowhere, I've done some research about the best way to deal with bicycling in the cold.

Before I get to the goods, I have an admission to make. I've not been biking very regularly. My excuse: a little play I directed made it impossible for me to bike to work and the rehearsal/performance space. I would never have been on time. Now that I've gotten out of practice and the play is about to close, I'm facing the difficult prospect of bicycle commuting once more in dropping temperatures. If you've read this blog at all, you know I have to work myself up to things. For me, this means doing plenty of hypothetical research before jumping into the deep end of (in this case) an extremely cold pool.

Thus far these are the tips I plan to employ as I gear up for the cool down:

1.) Don't dress too warmly: This one, though counter-intuitive, makes perfect sense. As we bike, we generate excess heat. One blogger suggested, "If you are warm for the first ten minutes of riding, you are overdressed." (He also gives a really awesome visual temperature scale of what to wear) But there are certain precautions to be addressed. I've learned. In cold weather, it is important to make sure you skin is entirely covered. Tuck in your shirt, wear gloves that cover your wrists, and if you are really ninja-like consider investing in a face mask.

2.) Leave yourself plenty of time: It's no new idea that bicycle commuting takes a tad more time than car commuting. But it is important to account for the time it takes to don and drop your added layers before departure and on arrival. The upside to this one, as far as I can figure, is that there is no idling time and no extra time needed to scrap ice from a windshield. That's a big check mark in the pro column for me.

3.) Watch out for Black Ice: Okay, this one is really scary, but thank goodness I have plenty of time before really bad conditions set in. Regardless, apparently if I see a patch of black ice, you're suppose to ride straight over it. Don't turn; don't brake; don't peddle.

4.) Don't Feel Bad if you Wimp Out: This one I'm taking to heart... every article about winter riding speaks to the rewards and merits of making it through the season. I will most likely wimp out on the coldest, wettest or snowiest days... and as long as I get on the next day it's all right.

Honestly, there was a lot of advice out there. Too much to process at once. I guess the only thing left to do is stop being hypothetical about this whole thing and get down to it.

Share your Winter riding tips with me as I embark on the next frontier of bicycle culture in Indianapolis.

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