Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Biking in the Snow

Two of my favorite topics, as longtime readers are aware, are bicycling and the weather. This despite the fact that I am an amateur cyclist and my dislike of the snow is as high as it can get after 26 years living in cold climates. This year I've decided to brave the poorly plowed streets of A2 on my bike as much as possible. Since I invested in a new bike from Two Wheel Tango in the spring, it seemed silly to retire it for a third of the year.

First step: getting my bike fixed. My front brake has been broken since October and I've been blithely cycling down State Street with just a rear brake and a wicked yellow bike helmet for protection. But with ice, snow, salt, and slush on the streets, I've decided not to risk anything.

I spoke to my friend Sandy, barista extraordinaire at Comet Coffee, kickball league impresario, comic book fiend, and hard-core cyclist, about how to safely and expertly bike through A2 during the winter. Sandy's first tip: don't be scared. Falling on the road in January is arguably safer than in July, because the snow and ice will be slightly more forgiving than concrete or asphalt. Sure, you might get bruised... but you probably won't get cut up.

Obviously, as with driving, it's crucial to bike more slowly than you would if the roads were clear. And don't be afraid to bike on the main roads (with bike lanes) rather than side streets - the main roads will be clearer, because they're plowed more often and heavier traffic will erode the snow and ice.

Investing in the safety equipment you might not take seriously in the snow will also help - helmet, lights, a mirror, and a bell will definitely be useful. Sandy also suggests a sturdy pair of gloves, as blustery weather will make your fingers cold - and you can't put them in your pockets. Sure, maybe you loved saying "Look, ma - no hands!" as a child - but no one should be doing that when it's below freezing, dark, and windy.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like the weather of late is divine retribution for all those times I have looked down upon people with knobby tires and/or low gear ratio. My slick tires keep spinning when I try to ride uphill and I worry that they'll slide out from under me when I turn.