Tips for Winter Riding

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Is bad weather discouraging you?

The biggest hurdle is mental, once you get out there you’ll have a blast. Getting out of bed and onto the bike is the hardest part. Decide the night before that you are riding no matter what. Set out your gear so you’re ready in the morning. If it’s not all ready for you you may take the car instead.

Be Prepared – Bring your booties and a light waterproof jacket in your pack every day, that way if it is dry in the morning, but raining on the way home, you won’t be caught by surprise. It happens all the time.

Dry off – After a rainy ride to work you’ll have some wet clothes. Your rain jacket will dry off quickly, but you may have some wet pants or rain booties. Hang them up to dry and they will be nice and cozy for you by the end of the day. Laying them in a wet pile makes for a damp and unhappy trip home.

Back Off – Don’t follow to closely behind other cyclists and cars or you will be first in line to catch all the mud and grime that is flying off of their tires. If you want to be a nice guy, you could get a mud flap for your own rear fender to minimize the amount of grime flying off the back of your wheel too.  We sell and install these  at the shop at around $50. It really makes a difference.

Maintain your bike – Riding in the rain wears out bike parts very quickly. Fine sand and grit is carried up from the road and deposited on your rims, causing rim brakes pads to wear very quickly. Moving parts like chains and gears also wear quicker with grip in the mix.   They might last you a year under dry riding conditions, but they could be gone in 3 months of heavy rain riding. Get a bike tune up once in a while from your local bike shop. In addition to that lube that chain every week or so and clean your chain often also. Rain washes all the oil off. You’ll notice it getting noisy.

Grip the road – Watch out for sewer covers, train rails, and crosswalk paint, they can be very slippery in the rain, and they are usually right in the cyclist’s path. Pay attention to the road surface and you will be fine. If flat tires are something you cringe about, consider upgrading your tires to something that has puncture protection built in. There are many brands/styles and tread patterns out there. My suggestions are the Schwalbe Marathon or Marathon Plus, or the CST Salvo. Both are ballistic. You’ll be happy, trust me.

Rain Riding Gear

Booties – On a really rainy day your shoes will get soaked, even if you ride with fenders. get some booties.

Helmet cover or Beanie Cap – A thin toque is a great idea on colder days – for the cold and somewhat for the rain. When you buy a helmet, make sure it has extra adjustment for a beanie cap. Helmet covers are great too.

Fenders – Some people think it’s not ‘cool’ to have fenders on a bike. It is ‘cool’ . Be drier and cleaner than the guy who doesn’t have fenders. Trust me.

Riding Poncho Ponchos are great for those days that surprise you with crap weather. Keep one in your pannier at all times. They roll up tight, taking up little room. If the skies unleash upon you, it’ll take a few seconds to throw on.

Helmet – Just wear one. Enough said

Gloves – Gloves are essential for winter riding. Even though we have it good here on the southern end on Vancouver Island, it still gets cold, especially when you’re moving over 20 kph. It’s a balance between warmth and comfort. We sell gloves to protect you from wind and water.

Jackets – If you don’t like the poncho option, and prefer a stylish jacket, we sell a variety of price points. From the economy Impac Hydro-Tech to the more robust Showers Pass Transit Jacket. Both work and are priced from $110 to $250.

Rain Pants and Tights – There are 2 kinds of rain pant; The fully waterproof, and the front panel only waterproof. We sell both. My preference is the thermal tight which breaths in the back.

Lights – You absolutely need lights – front and rear. If you just need to be seen by cars and people ( like riding downtown where they have street lights ) most lights are adequate, but if YOU need to see (like way out on the Goose Trail) you need to get something good. Think around 400 lumens or better.  We sell numerous brands that cover all your needs.

Panniers – Panniers are used instead of backpacks for more serious riders. You can use a $40 pannier or a $300 pannier. It’s your choice. More expensive bags are more rugged and often waterproof or water-resistant.  We carry all of these.

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