Zero-below, no problem!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Riding your bicycle all year round can be quite the challenge. In the summer, some say that the rain and wind keep them from riding. In winter, others say that the snow, the ice, and the cold temperatures make riding sometimes dangerous. In both of these cases, many tools are available to either reduce risk or make your s ride more pleasant.

Winter riding
Winter riding can be dangerous, which is why it’s important keep your eye on the prize. Here are a few tips to make your ride more pleasant and safer:

  • First, dress appropriately. If possible always have a wind breaker because it helps to keep warm when the wind blows hard. A good pair of gloves, pleather if possible, helps a lot because wind doesn’t pass through them. Bring an extra pair of socks if you feel the need or if the forecasted weather includes rain (or even worse.... freezing rain).
  • Second, use a second hand bike. Salt and sand can destroy you bike during winter so if you don’t want to end up wasting money on repairing your good bike in the summer, try to find a cheap bike that will last the winter. Here are places where you can purchase a bike for less than 100$:
    re-Cycles, the Bike dump, check on Used Ottawa or Kijiji.
  • Third, follow the plow. Even though it might seem less dangerous to take streets without traffic, it’s often more dangerous because plowed streets usually give you the opportunity to be more in control of your bike.
  • Fourth, ride straight. I often see people fall off their bikes in winter because they try to turn as if they were on a surface with good grip but it wasn’t the case. You are more likely to stay on our bike if you ride in a straight line rather than if you don’t.
  • Lastly, watch out. Be aware of what goes on around you. Cars might be less aware of bikers in winter months (trying to make suer that the other hazards are taken care of) so make sure you look over your shoulder once in a while and be visible to cars. 
Summer riding
In my view, there is no such thing as bad weather for riding, but for those who do think there is, here are some tips to make your ride more pleasant:

  • Always have a rain coat/shell on you. Mountain Equipment Coop or any bicycle store sells them cheap, no need for the best, just a waterproof shell.
  • Have mud guards on both front and rear tires to reduce the chances of having your lower back get soaked and/or covered in mud.
  • If your concern is getting your backpack wet, many stores sell waterproof backpack covers for less than $10 and some are even integrated inside the pack (like most Osprey packs for instance).
  • In Ottawa, Google has added the option on its maps for bike paths, making your ride easier and safer.
~ alex - campus sustainability coordinator
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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