It's still winter somewhere and that means snow, ice and low temperatures. What's a rider to do to stay safe? We explore the answer in this blog post.
Personally, I like to ride my bike in extreme conditions because it makes me feel bad ass but also because it's not my nature to quite when the going gets though. That does not mean I like to take unnecessary risks though. Here are a few lessons I learned, most of them the hard way ( yep ) about riding safely during winter.
We talked about layering and what to wear in cold weather so I won't go over this again but please check our blog post about it if you haven't yet. Here, I'll focus more on bike and riding.
The biggest difference between winter and rest of the year is that the road surface is a lot of time frozen or covered in snow. This changes everything and needs to be considered at every turn. One thing to do from the start is to have winter tires on your bike, so called "fat tires" that are great for these type of weather.
But I do realize that most people don't have spares or change them as we do with cars. Here's a trick you can do with any tires: deflate them a bit. What you're trying to achieve is a better adherence by lowering the pressure in the tire and giving them more "bite". You'll feel that your bike grips the road better and seems more secure. Of course this has a few disadvantages, especially the fact that you'll have to work a bit harder and you'll go where you're going a bit slower. Still, beats sliding and falling on your butt.
Speaking of sliding, use only the break on the rear wheel to avoid falling on slick surfaces. I also like to loosen the breaks a bit so it won't be to brusque. And I'm always ready to take my feet off the pedals and stop the bike if anything goes awry ( pro tip: it will happen so be prepared )
Of course, with rough weather conditions drivers are even more distracted. If your town is anything as mine, you'll need to pay extra attention to your traffic mates. Be sure you are seen and chose to wait extra than take a risk and get hurt.
That's another reason I like to use lights at any hour of the day in winter. Not only that it will get darker earlier but in the grey-white colors of the city, a blinking yellow or red light will make people mindful of your presence on the road. It's safer and that's the rule.
My last tip, although not really about safety but related, is to wash your bike often if you use it in the winter. Because of salting, snow and other debris that is found on the roads in the city your bike can be exposed to the elements more than normal and it can be damaged in time if not cleaned. Just use water and sponge and some oil on the chains to finish it off. You'll thank yourself in the spring when your bike will run smoothly.
This is it, everything I do to make sure I'll get home safely every day I ride in the winter. It's not really all that difficult and the little extra effort pays off and you don't have to ditch your bike.
Enjoy your ride and stay safe!