Winter riding might seem intimidating at first but once you get in the proper mindset and purchase a few articles of clothing it’s easier than you might think. And in my opinion, very rewarding.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to ride my bike, I have been riding to work year-round for about 4 years. On average I will ride 20km or 12mi a day, it usually takes me anywhere from 35-45 min, vs the 60-90 min bus ride or 25 min by car. A bus pass here in Edmonton is $80 a month or $6 a day, Parking is $7-11 a day or $150-$170 a month.
Bike maintenance is around $250 a year, and I ride an expensive bike. It would cost less for most.
I go through a drive train every year, with an average of 5,200km or 3,231mi of commuting ( not counting pleasure rides ).
Living in Canada poses some challenges in the winter, the biggest challenge being the temperature.
The average winter temperature is probably -20 Celsius or -4 Fahrenheit, the coldest temperatures I rode in -45c that’s -49f! Surprisingly enough the cold is not the problem so much as keeping cool.
Dressing for the cold is hard to do with a high output sport, your fingers, toes, and face will be freezing but your core is burning.
I ware a Keen mid-height winter boot, good wool socks, preferably Marino wool, A quality shell for me I use a Whittaker hard shell, hardshell pants, and a perm-aloft mid-weight coat when it’s super cold out I add-on a thin fleece layer. For my hand, I use a Gortex down clove, and on the warmer days ( -15c ) a windproof fleece. In all conditions, I ware a merino wool toque.
During the mild winter days, I will wear a thin fleece under a softshell or hardshell depending on the wind.
The next factor in riding is the snow, lots of fluffy snow is not a big deal unless it falls on top of the ice. I don’t even know how many times I wipe out because of this. It happens so fast that most of the time you are simply riding along and then you’re in a snowbank.
Wet heavy snow is painfully horribly slow to ride in, pretend your riding uphill. There is no coasting and it never lets up.
My favourite riding conditions would be hard-packed snow at about -17c. Your tires make a satisfying crispy crunch sound.
Taking care of my bike
Winter might be all nice and white in most places, but when you ride its nothing but sand, gravel, and salt. It’s filthy.
I oil my chain about every 4 days, cleaning off the excess. There is not a lot that can be done about the salt unless you haul your bike into the shower with you.
If I want to get my bike nice and clean I will use Clean Streak for the greasy stuff, Muck Off for the Frame bits, and Bike Lust to help shed dust and grime. Obviously, you need to make sure your chair is nice and lubricated, For this, I use Finish Line Cross country.
Why do I do it?
Most of all riding is fun and feels good, I enjoy the slower pace and being able to explore my surroundings. It allows me to clear my mind and it’s a great opportunity to listen to all of those podcasts that you keep putting off.