Winter Cycling For Everyone
Here in Australia, people whinge about the cold and the wet. As a resident of this magical place of permanent non-freezing-ness for a few years now, I can most certainly proclaim that in winter, it still gets cold enough to make winter cycling less convenient. For many, unappealing, even.
Combine cold and wet, and most people need to have a fair bit of resolve in order to leave their warm and cozy abode and head out into single-digit temperatures. Winter cycling means you have to balance cold, wind and rain with staying warm and sweating profusely, which is difficult to say the least. These all combine to make it difficult to be comfortable, be able to use your fingers, feel your toes, use your facial muscles, avoid snot beards and not catching a cold. Of course there is also the danger of wet roads and the increased chance of closely inspecting the ground with your face at high speeds. It can be a challenge.
Although I’ve spent two-thirds of my life so far living in the freezing wasteland that is central Canada (for half of the year, anyway – the other half has glorious summers, in case you didn’t know), I’ve done almost no winter cycling. Not the snowy kind, anyway. The bike mostly just sat unloved in the corner until the streets and trails cleared and temperatures rose enough to allow blood flow in the outer extremities. The last year or two I lived there I gave commuting the short distance to work a shot, and it actually wasn’t all that bad. Not if you dressed for it.
When we lived in England before landing in Aus, winter included snow, but not the Canadian kind, and riding was possible year round without too much effort, although still cold. The rain though… ugh… Again, just dress for it. Mudguards are definitely not considered lame by any roadie there. That’s something that roadies here should learn.
Adelaide, the temperatures drop to very nearly freezing for a few days each year (I say that with a large smirk on my face) and winter is usually wet, but when you are used to anywhere from high 20℃’s to low/mid 40℃’s for much of the year, that’s cold.
Regardless, we can learn a thing or two from those nutters who don’t see what a few feet of snow and temperatures hovering about 25℃ below freezing has to do with not cycling. Besides, it is these kinds of challenges that turns you from a soft wuss-bag into a self-reliant crusher of difficult things. It’s character building.
There is a different element that winter cycling introduces, with the slightly dull acoustics, the crunch of snow under the wheels, and the quaint stillness that a white winter brings that you don’t get in summer.
Watch, learn, and when the temperatures drop and the skies open, put on your woolies and think about your northern hemisphere brethren who have just come out of proper winter needing to clean their bikes, not pull them out of storage and dust them off.
Header image: source