Before you put away your bike and hibernate through the cold months, you might want to look into winter biking instead. Sure, one of the best things about biking is slipping into summer clothes and feeling the cool breeze on your skin. All you need is cycling clothes, a helmet, and a pair of sunglasses for a day of excitement. How much fun can it possibly be doing the same activity in the frigid weather?
Now, before you turn your nose up in the air at the idea, at least try winter biking once. Rather than complain about snow and cold temperatures every day, embrace the elements on your bike. This season offers an entirely new cycling experience. Sure, you have to bundle up a little more, but you may be quite surprised at how exhilarating this activity can be.
Reasons to Cycle in the Winter
Not sure if winter biking is for you? Here are a few reasons why you should consider it.
- Avoid Weight Gain – Most people admit that they pack on a few pounds in the winter, especially if they stop training. You continue to eat the same amount you usually do, but suddenly your body’s not burning as many calories. Add the fact that there are always mouthwatering goodies around the holidays to indulge in, and it is easy to understand where the weight gain comes from. Winter biking eliminates this problem.
- Beat Depression – Many people get depressed during the winter. Between being cooped up inside and having reduced sunshine, it is common to start feeling a little down. However, if you cycle, your body produces endorphins, which make you happy. Not to mention, you at least get a little sunlight being outside.
- Solitude – If you need to unwind and reflect take your bike to the trails at the park. There is rarely anyone on the trails in the winter.
- Picture Opportunities – Biking through a clearing on a trail that awards you views of the land blanketed by snow shimmering in the sunlight will change your opinion of winter. You will enjoy an abundance of beautiful photo opportunities during this season.
- Challenge – Stuck in a bike training rut? winter biking brings new challenges to keep your training fresh and interesting.
- Improved Handling – You will have a positive impact on your handling and reaction time when you start snow biking.
- Excuse to Shop – Now you have an excuse to shop for some of that cool winter biking gear you have never needed.
Recommended Winter Biking Equipment
It is no secret that I am a winter biking enthusiast. Everyone who knows me will tell you I wholeheartedly look forward to this season. However, there are a few essentials I can’t be without.
Nothing ruins a ride faster than cold fingers. These gloves have soft fleece in the thumb and index finger and are made of a four-way stretch material for a snug fit. The liner is windproof, waterproof, and breathable, and silicon prints on the fingertips help you maintain a solid grip.
Being able to feel your toes is pretty important. Without the right shoe covers, your toes will freeze and you will struggle to pedal. These covers are made of neoprene and give a super warm fleece lining. They are also easy to get on and off thanks to a unique hook-and-loop closure.
These merino wool socks provide warmth and cushioning. They fit perfectly, stay in place, and are designed for motion. You do not want to wear cotton because when your feet sweat the cotton will stay wet and cold.
Wearing a heavy, bulky coat is not an option. This jersey provides a layer of insulation and has three compartment-pockets on the back to hold your gear. It has a full zipper with a semi-lock slider and even has pre-shaped elbows.
These sunglasses are as protective as they are stylish. The polycarbonate frames are virtually unbreakable by impact. They feature a reflective flash mirror, anti-fog coating, and anti-slip pads.
Your face and neck will get cold quite quickly as you flow through the frigid air. Your first instinct may be to turn your head frequently to try to filter some of the wind. However, this can be very dangerous, especially in slippery conditions. This face mask protects the skin from the wind.
Places for Winter Biking
- Boston – Traverse through enchanted snow forests on the Charles River Bike Trail. It extends from Boston to Newton and is a must-ride!
- Minneapolis – The Chain of Lakes Bike Trail offers an epic winter ride. This busy summer trail becomes an outlet for peace and tranquility in the winter. A lot of cool activities are organized in this area by the Twin Cities Bicycle Club.
- Alta – Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, welcomes biking on its Nordic trail system. There is a snow bike lane, so skiers and cyclists don’t collide.
- Bicycle Tours in Switzerland – You are sure to fall in love with this country. The snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps provide a breathtaking backdrop for your ride. This country is known for its array of winter activities, cycling included.
- Italy Tours – There is bike riding all around Lake Garda. The villages of Riva and Torhole are extremely bike-oriented. This hidden gem attracts riders from around the world. There is also plenty of opportunity for downhill biking.
- Stay Hydrated – In the summer you probably reach for your water bottle every few minutes. In the winter you don’t get as thirsty because you are not overheated, but you still need to make a point to stay hydrated.
- Carb Up – Winter biking offers the perfect to excuse to eat plenty of carbohydrates. You burn more calories in the winter because some are being burned just to keep you warm. You need nonstop nutrients to maintain your energy level.
- Stay Visible – Visibility can be poor due to foggy or snowy conditions. Wear bright clothing and ring your bell, as needed.
- Tire Maintenance – You can’t ride worn tires in slippery conditions. Make sure you have enough tread.
- Known Your Limits – Always put safety first. Winter biking is fun, but it is important to know and recognize your limits.
Winter awards you with incomparable training opportunities. Rather than complaining about Jack Frost and Old Man Winter, make them your best friends for the season.