Biking all winter

I decided to challenge myself to commute to work via bike through the winter of 2018 -2019, and managed to stay with it. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations as a retrospective.

Things I did to prepare.

  • Bought insulated / windproof pants
  • Made sure I had enough thick socks
  • Bought balaclava, windproof gloves, ski goggles, and a winter helmet
  • Lights
  • Old bike with thicker tires that I wasn’t afraid to ride in wet conditions/ snow
  • Told people I was going to do it

How it went.

Pretty good! I enjoyed the relaxation of slower quiet rides on top of the exercise and just being outside a bit more. Snow has a real muffling effect, so it was unexpectedly peaceful. For the most part paths I needed to go on were cleared enough to make it not a chore, but riding through even a little bit of snow adds significant rolling resistance. Rides just took a little longer. I didn’t try to go fast because working harder raised core temp to much, meaning I would get sweaty pretty easy under clothes that don’t breathe well due to wind proof nature, also speed is less desirable with reduced traction.

People at work looked at me like I was a little weird, but mostly thought it was cool, I think.

In winter, even when driving a car, you need to plan a little more time to travel. On top of slower speed being generally good idea, there is scraping windows, letting the car warm up, and getting properly bundled up. Bikes don’t need the warm up or window scraping, but a wipe down of chained post ride is a good idea some days. One morning it had been slushy, and I didn’t do this and my chain was quite frozen when I unlocked it from the bike rack in the evening to head home. Still with without the needing the scraping and pre warming my travel times on some days were probably faster via bike than they would have been by car. I was only going 2.5 miles each way, so of course that is a factor, and YMMV.

What I’d change

New items to purchase.

  • Snow or studded tires
  • Bigger backpack or trunk bag
  • Disc brakes
  • Bar mits

I would definitely do this again. This winter I am taking a break from it as a regular thing, aiming for once a week. This is due to having a baby at home and sometimes needing to come home in a pinch or do older kid drops offs or pickups on way to or from work.