365 Days Commuting by Bike: Wait… You are going to bike in this?

Wait... You are going to bike in this- So you have decided to bike through winter. Your mind is made up and you are already getting everything in order to have a safe, warm, and successful winter ride. Everything should be dandy, right?

Unfortunately, I have begun to realize that the idea of biking through winter doesn’t seem to sit too well with my friends’, family members’, significant other’s, or volunteer acquaintances’ minds. Which leads me to believe that many of you who have decided to bike through winter may be receiving the same hesitant responses and questions that I have been receiving since announcing my intension to bike in the snow. Here is a list of some of the most popular questions, and comments I continuously here from the concerned parties mentioned above and my typical responses. I would love to hear the questions you receive and how you respond in the comments after this article as well!

1.       Isn’t it dangerous?

  • For this question I usually like to mention how all mode of transportation can be dangerous and when you are aware of the dangerous points you can make changes to avoid them or reduce the danger.
  • For me this means altering the path I take from summer to a safer and more bike path focused commute this winter.
  •  I also like a vehicle or snowmobile going out for the first time in the winter snow will make sure that my bike is tuned up for winter.
  • Like people who ride in cars but still wear their winter jackets;  I to will wear my winter biking apparel.
  • And finally like people who walk anywhere in the snow and ice, I too will keep an eye out for any potentially risky paths layered with ice.

2.       How will you manage to bike through all the snow and Ice?

  • The great thing about this question is I can talk about the wonderful amends Madison has made for its yearly bike commuters. In order to keep the paths open the City of Madison has to be sure that they are clear of snow for commuters. In fact, some fellow winter commuters in the office mentioned that the paths are sometimes cleared before the road!
  • As for the ice, once the weather hits the worse many winter cyclists, reduce air pressure, and increase the traction in their tires, perhaps even adding studs to their tires.

3.       Isn’t that bad for your bike?

  • Well actually, yes, it can be. That is why many cyclist have a winter bike, a “beater” or a bike specifically for commuting. You would never take you really nice sports car through a winter in Wisconsin and likewise I don’t plan on taking my prized road bike through the winter either. (More on this topic later 😉 )
  • Instead I will combat the cold and dirt with a bicycle that has fenders and is rough and ready.

4.       It gets dark in the winter…

  • Yes… it does. This is something that I realize I need to be prepared for even before it gets pitch black at 5:30 p.m. and it is the creeping reduction in daylight that I think should be all 365 day commuter’s concern. To combat this is as simple as beginning to make practice of riding with your lights on when commuting as early as the beginning of October. This way you will never run into that issue where you can see the road but the vehicles find it hard to see you.

5.       What if it is really cold?

  • I have to admit here I always hesitate a bit since the cold is really one thing I am dreading, but many people have commented here and on Facebook telling me that once you get going the cold really isn’t an issue anymore. They key seems to be keeping the core warm so that the blood can continue to circulate into your feet and hands. I have taken that to heart and often remind the questioners that biking is cardio exercise and that if I am not warm enough I just have to work a bit harder.

6.       Why don’t you just buy a car?

  • This is probably the most common question I run into when telling people about my winter commute. Apparently, it is very hard to understand why someone who could buy a car would decide not to in favor of biking in the cold.
  • Now I am pretty sure you cannot change people’s minds on this one, but I like to explain to them a few key elements that keep me on the bike such as:
  • When I bike I don’t feel obligated to get a gym membership. I torch an average of 300 calories a day just commuting.
  1. I don’t have to fill up on gas
  2. I don’t have to buy car insurance
  3. There is no need for a parking spot, which living in the city can get ridiculous or can be hard to find.
  4. I don’t have monthly car payments….
  5. And to top it all off my commute is on average 15 minutes shorter. It is hard to argue with the facts!

7.       Are you really biking in the winter?

  • Yup… I’m writing a mini blog series about it on SchwinnRed, so yeah it’s happening!

If you are or have ever ridden in the winter what questions do you receive and how do you respond to them? bundled up for winterKeep an eye out for an article about my hunt for the right Schwinn for winter and for a post that explores my preparation to stay warm this winter. (Hopefully I will find a more efficient way to stay warm then when I wore 4 layers in the picture to the right from when I went to visit the Ice Caves in Northern Wisconsin). Get out and Ride, Samantha C

365 Days Commuting By Bike: Fall Clothing

Edited4Last week I had my first taste of just how chilly the fall months can be and although I wasn’t prepared for this early of an unset the first lick of cold has helped me realize exactly what I will need for the erratically varying fall weather.

glovesThe first thing I learned when hoping on my bike in the cold morning hours, I typically leave my house before 7a.m., is that I really need a pair of light gloves! It takes about 5 or 6 minutes to really warm up your core and after that the warmth will spread to your hands, but before that occurs the chill can be pretty brutal.  Because it is still warm enough out and my hands do get warm before my commute is over I plan on getting some simple gloves that are easy to remove during my ride. This past Spring I had several pairs of basic cotton gloves that worked okay, but I plan on checking into some light running gloves that are also easy to slip off. You can also get fingerless gloves or gloves specifically designed to provide a better grip on the bicycle, but knowing that I will have to get a thicker pair for winter later I think that the very basic runner’s glove would be best suited for how I ride in fall and fit all my needs.

HeadbandMy ears had a tinge of coldness to them too so I am debating waiting it out for a while, but I know I will need some sort of ear protection very quickly and perhaps even before the end of October. Any ear covering combined with helmets seems a bit awkward to me and I am not really ready for full head covering, because that would just be too much heat this early in the season. That is why once again for my ear gear I am planning on using a head-warmer or headband. I think that this would be most convenient with a helmet because if it gets too warm I will always be able to slip it off my ears and leave it around my neck. Once again I am aware that I will need something different later in the season so I am keeping my first level of headgear rather basic.

socksThe other obvious difference was my need for sleeves and quarter length ‘thicker’ socks (my legs always tend to be a bit warmer, but you may also need longer pants if your legs also get chilled easily). For sleeves I am a huge fan of fabric that keeps the sweat of off you and was lucky enough to already have a MidZero Zip from Sugoi’s last season which is a polyester spandex mix with an incredibly warm inside that you would not expect considering how light it is and I plan on getting a few more sleeved items with that blend for Fall. When I am ready to cover up the legs a bit more I will lean toward tights with lined material for added warmth. I am personally not a huge fan of bibs but those are also a great option for winter. As for the socks, right now I am quite content with basic socks, but I know in the coming months my feet are going to be an area where I will want to contain heat and will have to look into that as the winter approaches.

Two other concerns crossed my mind when I thought about the approaching winter.

The first was the reduction of light both in the morning and at night. I have a feeling this will sneak up on me rather quickly and want to be prepared sooner than later. A set of front and back lights are great, but recently when I was in a car one night I realized how little visibility these actually offer. That is why I am looking in to clothing with reflective material and lighter colors. Sugoi has recently come out with this new material that is highly reflective. Under daylight conditions the jacket looks, well normal; however when you shine a light on it the entire jacket becomes reflective. This jacket is definitely on my wish list going into winter and I know it would make my mom feel just a bit better about my biking escapades. (Check out this video to see what I mean: 

a37c94b3832e1d2ce64ca6e77fb0d2aeThe second and more socially embarrassing thing I am already nervous about is what will happen when I am super bundled up, perhaps with a balaclava, and my nose starts to run. (I have sinus issues ALL THE TIME so this is not a matter of if…). In the warmer months I admit my socks are often the go to, but in winter when I am all bundled up I think I need to find a cleaner solution and one that doesn’t require my face turning into an icicle. Perhaps a hanky is in order? At least that would be a classy addition to my commute.

I would love to hear some solutions to these concerns and more tips and tricks you might have in the comments below!

And as always,

Get Out and Ride!

– Samantha C.

 

A Taste of Fall Biking

Today marks the first day of fall and for many one last hurrah for their biking season. After a summer of biking you may have found that biking has lost a bit of its luster and that your old go to routes may seem to be well… rutted, well worn, and boring. This can be especially true if you ride your bike every day to commute to work or school, but I promise, it is amazing what a change of scenery can do to help make your last few weeks of biking just as fun as those first few in Spring.

Orchard2The following are a few of my suggestions to shake up your fall riding, get excited about the season once again, and enjoy some time with family and friends!

Schwinn5Orchards: Apple picking is one of the iconic activities of fall and a great opportunity to try some local fruits and baked items. Often times these orchards are located at the edges of towns, but are still close enough to bike to; a quick google map search will help you determine if you can make a safe route to an orchard by your bicycle.

Whether you bike there just for the view and a fresh slice of apple pie with your family or friends or put a basket on your bike and pick a few apples to bring home for later biking to an orchard can be a fun and healthy activity for those cool fall weekends.

Pumpkin Patch: Not into apples? How about pumpkins? Like an apple orchard pumpkin patches are a great way to support your local community, have fun with friends and family and get in a little exercise too!

Be warned pumpkins are heavy and the ride home might take a bit longer to accommodate that added gourd.

Brewery Tour: Another fun fall activity is to head over to a local brewery for a tour. Many breweries offer a flat rate for both the tour and samples or even a pint, like Ale Asylum in Madison who encourages tourist to have a full glass in order to better enjoy the tour.

Farmers Markets: Fall produce can be some of the tastiest items around.  With seasonal squash, carrots, green beans and many more there will be plenty to look at and many new items to try out. If you aren’t into cooking Farmers Markets often have baking companies who will happily provide you a yummy morning breakfast while you have a look around.

mom and samSponsored Rides: Most of the items in this list have been primarily about food and while I would lean toward a sponsored ride that also was about food, you can also just concentrate on the bicycle riding for this one!

Simply visiting a city’s event page or googling bicycle tours in a specific area will help you begin to locate when and where these events take place. You should also keep an eye out at local establishments for unique community rides!

Remember to bring:

A bike lock: If you want to stop in the shop or continue on foot it is a good idea to have a lock to keep your bike protected while you are out of sight.

A basket: If you want to bring home apples, beer, and produce or if you happen to find some other tasty treat to take home on your fall adventure, a basket will help make sure that your items don’t get squished like they could in a backpack.

Tell us about your Fall Bike Adventures in the comments below or share a picture or two!

And as always…

Get out and Ride!

-Samantha C

365 Days Commuting By Bike: Mini Series

snowI once saw an info-graph that depicted bike commuting in terms of the seasons and your physical state of being during those seasons; only allowing just a sliver of “brief delusional joy” which fell in what the designer must have imagined was a ridiculously short period of Spring and Fall; however I feel the need to mention that some years in Wisconsin we don’t actually experience either of these seasons… at all.

49fcfdc4684ba5dd8f3463bcf0fd338dNow in all honesty there is a lot of truth to this info-graph and as the real season wheel begins to turn toward a brief Fall interlude I find myself sweating thinking about the upcoming Winter months. “Absurdly Freezing” the graph says. Again I wonder if they have ever biked in a Wisconsin Winter, but the point is clear biking in the cold is going to take some adjustments.

I started my daily commute to work last March as soon as I determined that the bitterness of the cold was almost completely over and the roads were clear enough of snow.  This year, however, I no longer have a carpool to easily get me through the “Absurdly Freezing” period of Winter. That combined with my love of a challenge has led me to delve into the idea of not only stretching out my commute as long as possible, but actually tying it to the start. In other words I plan on biking straight through the absurd Winter!

The good news is I will be taking you, SchwinnRed readers, along for the ride.

This Thursday I will be talking about clothing transition from Summer to Fall and about little subtle changes that you may run into with the slight seasonal differences.

Future article will discuss, choosing a Winter bicycle, prepping your bike for Winter, dressing for Winter, and posts about my experiences that will inevitably occur.

If you have any ideas about topics you would like me to cover I would love to hear them! Please feel free to comment below with your suggestions or email me at socialschwinn@pacific-cycle.com.

Now get out and ride while we are still in the tiny window of “brief delusional joy.”

-Samantha C.

Beating the Summertime Blahhs: DIY Whimsical Picnic

Summer is a wonderful time when you are a kid. There is no school, just a few organized sports games or other activities in the evenings and ample amount of time to catch up on all that play time you have missed during the school year.

The first few weeks are always a blast! There are so many things to do and see, but inevitably the Summer boredom eventually kicks in.
So what do you do when the daytime blahhs occur and the kids are saying “I’m bored” every two minutes?

FacebookTwitterWell this is exactly the conversation I had with my friend Lizzy last week. I am expecting my two younger cousins, ages 12 and 9 to come over for a weekend and although I am excited to see them, I have been incredibly nervous about how to keep them entertained for a whole weekend and stay within my small budget (aka keeping it as free as possible).

Lizzy happens to be a babysitter for two children around the same age and had just recently taken the kids to what she told them would be an over-the-top picnic adventure at a local park that was just a short bike ride from the house. She let me in on a few of her strategies to create a whimsical picnic, keep the munchkins entertained, and your wallet happy.

Tips to create an affordable and whimsical picnic:

1. Utilize what you already have at home:

  • Lizzy took inventory the day before of everything the family already had, such as a bed sheet, several board games, a few crates and bungee cords to carry the items on the bicycles, and cake mix for a cupcake snack.
  • Using items that were already available made her shopping list short and also helped to rejuvenate items that the kids had grown bored of. After all Yahtzee at an outdoor picnic is much more entertaining than Yahtzee at a kitchen table.

2. Add a touch of whimsy:

  • Since Lizzy wanted the picnic to be extra special she went to pick up a few added decorations from Walmart the night before.
  • A few simple and affordable decorations such as lanterns, paper flowers, pillows, and candles help make the atmosphere that much more exciting and gives the picnic that over-the-top extravagant feeling.
  • The kids also like helping to decorate the picnic area with fun and colorful decorations!

3. Make travel simple, fun, and a healthy experience:

  • Lizzy thought it would be a great idea to get to the picnic by bicycle. The kids already had two Mongoose bicycles in the garage so all she had to do was ride her Schwinn Cruiser over that morning and strap the crates on to the bikes with bungee cords.
  • Biking to your destination gives it a secretive and fun feel reminiscent of the book The Secret Garden and adds to the whole experience.
  • Plus, bonus points, biking is great exercise and gets the kids moving!

4. Let them take control of setting up the picnic:

  • Once you get to your destination let the kids set up all the goodies that you have packed in the crate. This well help them feel like they helped create the picnic and makes it even more special!

5. Enjoy!

  • After all the setup is complete the possibilities are endless! Play games, eat cupcakes, watch the clouds, and enjoy the spontaneity of a whimsical picnic!
    IMG_0027IMG_0047

Kiss those blahh days away and Get Out and Ride!

– Samantha C.

 

Just Biking in the Rain: Is Rain Interrupting Your Commute?

IMG_20140404_071430_017This week marks the first week of my commuting bicycle experience. Well that isn’t entirely true; I used to commute down State Street in Madison, WI, but that distance was walkable and closed off to traffic. My new 4.5 mile commute is a bit different and while I am slowly figuring out the little details of bicycle commuting, such as the necessity of my bringing clothes to change into (being sweaty at work is not fun), and finding out how to remedy the effects of helmet hair; there is one detail about bicycle commuting I forgot…the rain.

Me: Before and After Hypothermia

Me: Before and After Rain Induced Hypothermia

I don’t particularly enjoy the snow, but rain I am pretty terrified of. Perhaps this is because of an experience with rain induced hypothermia one summer canoe trip in the Boundary Waters where a sudden downpour of cold rain chilled me to the bone. Still, I don’t want a little rain to be the reason to give up, so I made a list of my biggest rainy weather fears and began to ask around for ways to beat them.

My Rainy Bicycle Fears:

  1. Getting soaked: See hypothermia caused by rain above, it can happen!
  2. Hydroplaning: This can happen with bikes right?
  3. Distracted Drivers: Texting, talking, driving, singing and then add weather to the mix, and drivers may be at multitask overload.
  4. Puddles: If potholes weren’t bad enough; rain can fill them in and make them look like innocent puddles.
  5. Crazy Hair: This one may be more geared to the ladies, but when rain and my hair meet crazy things happen. (picture Motley Crue).

The Solutions:

1. Dress to stay dry:

  • What to Wear:  There are many specialized clothes made for biking in the rain, but the most important thing is to make sure that your outer most layers, jacket, rain-pants, etc. are waterproof and your inside layers stay dry.
    •  Additional clothing items to aid in the fight to stay dry:
      • A base layer and sweater made of non-cotton material. Synthetic or wool works best at keeping sweat from sticking to you. After all you are trying to stay dry.
      • Waterproof shoes or boots to keep your feet dry. If you aren’t sure if your shoes are waterproof there are also shoe covers designed just for biking in the rain.
      • A lot of heat escapes from your hands so pick up some waterproof gloves to keep your hands warm and dry.
    • Waterproof bags: Use a waterproof bag, backpack, etc. in order to keep your items free of rain and insure dry clothes when you get to work.
    • Note! Waterproof versus Water-resistant: This is an often confusing difference and the one that led to my experience with hypothermia 2 years ago.
      • Waterproof means that the material can be completely submerged in water and everything will stay dry. You could take a waterproof bag with you snorkeling and hours later pull out a completely dry financial report for your 9 o’clock meeting.
      • Water-resistance on the other hand means that the fabric used is going to keep water out… to an extent. It works just fine if you are only encountering a light shower or will be out of the rain quite quickly, but if you get caught in anything a bit heavier, you’d be better off wearing a swimsuit.

2. Cautious Riding:

  • While hydroplaning on a bike is not likely to occur there are other cautions that you need to take when riding your bike in the rain.
    • Braking. Bike brakes are not as effective in the rain, so it important to take it slower than usual and allow yourself sufficient time to stop.
    • Slick surfaces. Cornering and traction are greatly reduced in the rain, especially on the road, because when the pavement gets wet the oil that cars drip mix with the water and make things super slick. So go slow!

3. Stay Visible:

  • Traffic is always something to be aware of while on your bike, but it is especially important to make sure you are highly visible when conditions are less than ideal.
    • Use rear and front lights. Just like cars use their headlights in the rain; it is a good practice to also utilize lights on your bike in conditions with reduced visibility.

4. Avoid the Puddles!:

  • There is not much you can do about sneaky potholes hiding in the middle of puddles. But they are dangerous and can cause flat tires or severe crashes. The best solution is simply to avoid them completely, if possible, and always wear a helmet.

The Stylish Sugoi Zap Helmet Cover

5. Helmet Covers (and maybe some product…):

  • A helmet cover is a great solution for not only saving your hair, but also for just keeping your head dry and warm.
  • For the ladies: it may be good practice to just bring a few products for defrizzing your mane once you arrive at work, this will help you avoid looking like Nikki Sixx all day.

There you have it. Now that the fears have been debunked, there really is no excuse for you to not..

Get Out and Ride!

Samantha

Biking Through Winter: Ryan & Steve

As the winter season is slowly coming to an end (at least we hope) we decided to interview two of our employees who are avid winter bike commuters to see what sort of insight a combined 25 years of winter riding has given them.

Ryan Racing in 2004

Ryan Racing in 2004

Ryan Shiroma, who you may recognize from the cover photo of our winter clothing blog post, also spends his time racing bikes.  From 1997 until 2010, he averaged 10 to 30 mountain races a year. Ryan also raced road bikes for a short time.  He still races mountain or cyclocross regionally and after being surrounded by bikes every day at work he is finding the motivation to increase the amount of events he attends in the future.

Steve and his Pug Trio

Steve and his Pug Trio

Steve Kotajarvi, who helped co-write the blog article about winterizing your bike is a true bike enthusiast. He enjoys riding bicycles every chance he gets, both recreationally and for commuting to work. Steve also spends his free time restoring bikes back to their prime condition. He is currently working on a 1937 Schwinn C47, which is pictured at the end of this article. Steve also is the proud owner of three adorable pugs Winnie, Teddy, and Leif.

Schwinn: How long have you been riding your bike to commute during the winter season and why when most people tend to put their bikes away did you decide to continue to bike through the winter?

Ryan's Bike After a Commute

Ryan’s Bike After a Commute

Ryan: I’ve been biking more than 10 years. The decision was originally based on winter training for the summer mountain bike season.  I rode outside to minimize the amount of time I needed to spend on the trainer.  Now that I’m not racing as seriously, I continue to ride because I enjoy the fresh air, exercise, and gas savings.  In addition, I don’t have to scrape ice off my windows or brush snow off my car.

Steve: I’ve been biking in winter probably around 15 years. I think I just gradually started riding later into the season as I acquired the right gear to make it possible. Plus it just feels good to ride.

Schwinn: Do you have a different type of bike that you use in the winter versus the warmer months?

Ryan: I don’t have a winter specific bike, but I do have special tires that I use for snow or icy conditions.

Steve: I used to, but now I mix it up a bit when the weather permits.

Schwinn: What types of bikes have you mixed it up with?

Steve's Fat Tire Bike

Steve’s Fat Tire Bike

Steve: Everything! Dirt jump bikes, park bikes, commuters, classics, mountains, I particularly like the fat tire bikes, and also full suspension bikes.

Schwinn: How does your biking technique change in the winter?

Ryan: I tend to ride slower to avoid the wind chill that comes with higher speeds.  The added weight and increased rolling resistance from the studded winter tires also contributes to the slower bike speeds.

Steve: Gearing up takes a little longer and typically the bike will be heavier so expect to add about a 25% increase to your commute time. I also try to stay very light on the bike when riding on snow and ice. The tires will wander in ruts that you can’t see under the packed snow so learning to stay above the bike helps keeps you upright.

SchwinnWhat sort of comments do you hear from people who see you riding your bike in the winter?

Ryan: Most comments relate to being cold or slipping on the ice.

Schwinn: Do you ever slip on the ice?

Ryan: Since I have studded tires I rarely do, but I am also pretty good at layering my clothes just in case.

Steve: People who don’t ride usually say things like “you’re nuts.”

People who do ride usually say “good morning, or good evening, or on your left.” 🙂

Schwinn: What is your favorite thing about winter biking? Least favorite?

Ryan: My favorite thing about winter biking is not having to use my car.  I only have to change my oil every 18 months.  My least favorite thing about winter biking is the shorter days.  Because it is often dark during my commutes, staying safe and visible to drivers is a challenge.

Steve: Riding in a big snow storm is my favorite. It gets kind of quiet, as if the falling snow flakes absorb all the sounds of the city, it’s very peaceful.

I also like it when snow shoots out of the front of the fender like a snow thrower!

Least favorite; salt, it gets all over everything and wrecks parts.

After a Snowy Day

After a Particularly Snowy Day

Schwinn: Any good stories that have happened while on your bike in the winter months? 

Ryan: Bring spare clothes. There have been a few days over the past years where I have forgotten to bring regular clothes to work.  I’ve had to stand around in boots and winter riding layers all day.

Steve: One thing I’ve noticed is that every year I see more people riding their bikes in the winter and commuting in general. That’s a good thing.

Schwinn: Why do you think people are so hesitant to ride their bike in the winter?

Ryan: I think most people see bicycling as a seasonal activity.  Once the bike season is done, they put the bike away and get out the skis or snowshoes.

Steve: I think most people imagine that the person they see riding the bike in the snow is cold, but with a few simple items it’s pretty easy to be quite comfortable. It doesn’t take long to learn how to dress for the changing weather conditions.

Schwinn: What is the number one tip that you would tell someone who is just beginning to ride their bike in the winter?

Ryan: Stay visible.  A good headlight and taillight along with some reflective clothing go a long way towards keeping you safe.

Steve: Keeping your skin covered and keeping the cold air out is the number one thing; an insulating layer with a wind proof layer over the top works best. Oh and wear a helmet!

Steve's Latest Project: Schwinn C37

Steve’s Latest Project: Schwinn C37

 Get Out and Ride!

Samantha

Is My Bike Snow Proof?: Winterized Biking 101

snow

The Winter Ride

Last week we talked about the proper clothing to wear as we gear up to take our bikes out in the winter. However, preparing our bikes for the cold is just as important as preparing ourselves. Winterizing your bikes and proper maintenance will not only help ensure the lasting quality of the bikes, but will also provide a safer ride in the winter.

Winterizing Your Bike:

  •   Bike Type:
    Schwinn MESA Mountain Bike

    Schwinn MESA Mountain Bike

    • Mountain bikes, hybrids, or single speed bikes often are the preferred type of bike for winter riding.
  • Tires:
    • Although some cyclist do not find it is necessary many winter riders will exchange their normal tires with a pair of studded tires which provide excellent traction on ice.
    • Another great option is to use wide tires. The larger surface area increases traction.
    • In winter it is also a good idea to reduce the air pressure of your tires. This allows more tire to be in contact with road and greater traction. The deeper the snow the less pressure you want in your tires, but make sure to stay within the tires recommended pressure range. This is located on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Fenders:
    • If you want to stay dry and slush free this seasons, fenders are a must. Fenders or Mud Guards are designed to protect you and the drivetrain from the debris on the road and will make your winter experience much more enjoyable. However, snow can also build up within the fenders and may increase resistance if they are not cleaned out.
  • Pedals:
    • If you ride with clipless pedals or toe straps during the summer you may want to consider swapping them out for platform pedals. These will work well with boots and be safer in the event that you need to put a foot down.
  • Headlights and Reflectors:
    Schwinn Headlight

    Schwinn Headlight

    • Since the sun rises later and sets earlier in the winter visibility becomes more difficult. Therefore, having proper front and rear lights as well as reflectors is essential to safe biking.

Maintenance:

  • Time for a tune up:
    • If you are uncertain that your bike is ready for winter bring it into a local bike shop for a tune up before you ride. The months of riding in snow, salt, sand and all the other nasty stuff that gets put on the road during winter will take its toll on all the bike’s parts, so it is better to be prepared before you start riding.
  • Clean and Dry:
    • Cleaning your bike after each use will dramatically reduce the amount of wear and tear that your bike will go through in the winter. It is also important to wipe the bike and chain dry after each use.
  • The Drivetrain:
    • It is important to clean and lubricated the chain, derailleurs and cassette/freewheel regularly. This will decrease corrosion and wear on the gears while also extending the drivetrains life.

Making sure your bike is properly maintained is important throughout the entire year, but it is even more critical for winter riding. A well maintained and winterized bike will provide an excellent and safe experience for any cyclist.

Get out and ride!

Samantha & Steve

Steve's Winterized Bike

Steve’s Winterized Bike

But Won’t I Freeze?: Winterized Biking 101

Can you be too prepared?

Can you be too prepared?

Most people store their bikes when the colder months of winter arrive and if you are anything like me the idea of leaving the house in the winter seems like a horrible idea. However, lately  the more I look outside my window and see the bike path that leads directly from my house to work the more I’ve wondered if taking my bike out of the shed a month or two early would be such a bad idea.

Whether you are biking for the joy of it, for exercise, or for commuting purposes riding your bike in winter does not have to be as difficult as many people assume it is. In fact, it can be a rather relaxing way to get out of the house, enjoy the brisk winter air, and increase your overall fitness and well-being.

In order to ensure a better winter biking experience this post will provide several tips and tricks on proper clothing, that will keep you comfortable and  help get all of us back on the bike before the snow melts.

Cycling in general causes a lot of heat to circulate throughout your body and the winter months are no exception. You can just as easily overheat in winter. That is why it is often more important to focus on preventing exposure of the skin to the wind, wet, and direct cold rather than focusing on the amount of layers you wear.

  1. Breathable Clothing
    • Light Weight Sugoi Icon Jacket

      Light Weight Sugoi Icon Jacket

      Materials like cotton tend to stay moist and can keep you too cold. Wool and synthetic materials are better to wear as an under layer, because they will keep your core both warm and dry. Fleece is also a great option, but is best saved for a particularly cold day when added warmth is needed.

    • Long underwear, leggings, and synthetic tights are great at keeping your legs warm.
  2. Outer Layers
    • Making sure your coat or outer most layers are waterproof and windproof will help keep heat contained while battling  the wind, snow, and rain.
  3. Footwear
    • A waterproof shoe or boot with enough room for thick socks is vital. Keeping your feet warm and dry is very important in the winter months, and again it is a great idea to avoid cotton which tends to keep your feet damp and cold.
  4. Gloves
    • Sugoi Subzero Lobster Gloves

      Sugoi Subzero Lobster Gloves

      Waterproof mittens or gloves will help keep your hands warm; however, many cyclists have found that lobster claw gloves, like the ones by Sugoi on the right, provide an excellent winter cycling option as well. The lobster claw splits your fingers in to two sections to provide better dexterity, but by keeping some fingers together they also provide the warmth of mittens.

  5. Headgear
    • Keeping your ears and head warm is incredibly important, if you do not have a winterized helmet that already covers your ears, be sure to wear either earmuffs or any other hat or headband under you helmet.
    • If you are wearing additional winter headgear underneath your helmet it is important to make sure that the helmet still fits properly. If the fit is an issue and you don’t want to buy a new helmet a helmet cover can also be a great option.
  6. Facemask
    • MidZero Balaclava by Sugoi

      MidZero Balaclava by Sugoi

      Some cyclists prefer to have their face and neck covered as well. There are many options to keep the winter chill off of these areas.

    • A balaclava (or ski mask) provides full head and face coverage, to keep out the cold and maintain heat. Some balaclavas have openings for the eyes; however, the one on the right by Sugoi is completely enclosed to better retain warmth.
    • Scarves are excellent ways to control the amount of wind that hits your face or neck and tinted goggles can keep your eyes both protected from the sun as well as the cold.

If you are looking to add some missing items to your winter biking outfit; Sugoi has an excellent clothing line for both male and female cyclist. They even have categorized their products into each season that the apparel is intended for.

http://www.sugoi.com/usa/bike.html

Finally, if jumping straight into winter cycling seems a bit daunting, don’t worry. You can get back into winter riding one step at a time with these quick tips:

  • Ride your bike just part of the way to your destination, then take the Metro Bus the rest of the way or park your car part of the way and ride your bike for the rest of the distance.
  • Don’t feel bad about leaving your bike at home for those especially cold, icy, or snowy days.
  • Keep in mind that getting on the bike even just once a week is a great step towards getting in shape for spring!
  • Most of all, remember to have fun. Enjoy the winter scenery and fresh air as we move into spring.

What has been your experience with winter biking? What tips and tricks have you learned?

Get out and ride!

Samantha