Dec 8, 2008

Winter Biking - the Mental Aspect

Winter pulled into the Minne-no-place metro area today.  Molly was visiting her parents in Southern MN and I was worried all day about her driving around in this mess, and I was treated to the first snow-induced grid-lock mess that downtown Minneapolis becomes on days like these.

As the season turns, I have began to think a little more seriously about riding a bike in winter. I am, admittedly, a pretty fair weather rider. I think that is partly because I hardly have time to ride my bike when it's sunny and beautiful out, and secondly because I don't like to ride in the dark very much.  So, in winter, it's easy to make excuses for why I drove instead of rode.

But, that said, I have been thinking about trying to get on the bike a little more this winter.  To that end, I have upgraded my gear a bit (bought a better light, invested in another rear flasher, upgraded to a cheap snow board helmet, etc.). I also mounted my widest tires on the Cross Check and have it aimed out in the garage to make it easy to get out the door.

I have also been prowling some websites and came across some good links that are worth sharing.  I am convinced that hands-down, the best site for information on winter biking is  There is a ton of useful information on this site; they have a guide on clothing (there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing), another series of pages is devoted to bike handling, and an interesting survey of 20 Questions that winter bikers have completed and has posted for all to see.

They also have an interesting survey (with NO results yet) on mechanical failures due to winter conditions.  I would suspect that mechanical failures would increase in cold weather (we see this with pipeline construction regularly), but so far the jury is out on whether this impacts bicycles.

Finally, the relatively few times I have gotten out in winter, I have been frustrated that I seem to crawl along. even has a page on that. is not the only site - search "winter bicycling" and you will get a ton of hits and most of them have useful information (use a lot of lights, dress in layers,  the first mile is the hardest, etc., etc.).

What I don't see on the site (or other sites) is how to get the motivation - how to actually get out the door and ride your bike when it's cold and nasty out.  I have concluded that gear is easy if you can afford it, but the mental aspect is more difficult - and you can't buy that.

At any rate, I pledge to try.  I aim to ride more this winter, and hopefully commute in to work as well.  I plan to take this step-wise, however.  Start small, have a victory or two, and then take it from there.  We'll see.

Stay warm and dry!!

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