Commute Safely in Winter
If you’re like me, you commute all winter by bike. Living in a mild climate (like the Seattle area) has its perks!
‘Tis the season for helmet lights!
But there’s more risks than summer riding: I ride to work on icy roads, and pedal home in the dark. Winter commuting is tricky, but I can’t give it up. I need my daily ride for good mental health, as much as physical health!
Below, guest blogger Lauren DiCenso, a personal injury lawyer (www.personalinjury-law.com), offers tips and tricks to cycling safely all season long.
Cycling in Inclement Weather
by Lauren DiCenso
Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise, but unfortunately Mother Nature has different plans for our rides. If you plan correctly, cycling can be a year-round activity.
Here are some tips for cycling safely in weather that’s less than ideal.
In the Snow
Slow down—roads are much more slick and brakes don’t work as well in the snow. You should give yourself twice as much space as usual to come to complete stops at lights or intersections.
Use fenders—nobody likes riding in the snow, but it’s especially miserable if you’re wet. Attaching fenders to your tires will protect both you and your fellow cyclists from spraying slush.
Use an old mountain bike—while fat bikes are great, they often cost $2,000 or more. A mountain bike can be perfectly effective, especially if it’s just been gathering dust in your garage for a while.
Stay away from the curb—what looks like an innocent inch of snow may be hiding a giant pothole or hazardous item. Keeping away from the curb will help protect you from any mishaps. The best place to ride on messy roads is directly in a snow plow or car’s tire path.
In the Rain
Avoid brick—brick and metal surfaces become extremely slick in the rain. It’s best to avoid riding over them. If you must ride over brick or metal, keep your handlebars straight so you won’t skid.
Lighten up—visibility is much harder when it’s raining out, so you should wear at least once piece of reflective clothing. This allows you to stand out against a car’s headlights.
Avoid layers—a common misconception is the more layers you wear, the harder it’ll be for rain to “soak through” and get you wet. Unfortunately if you wear a few non-waterproof layers in the rain it’s likely you’ll just be wet and heavy with all the extra gear. Dress for the temperature, not the weather. Visors or a very light poncho will help keep you dry instead.
In the Heat
Stay hydrated—you can become dehydrated or suffer heat exhaustion very quickly during the summertime. You should start your hydration an hour before your ride to ensure you have enough fluids. A 150-pound rider should have at least one 16-ounce bottle of water for every hour cycled, but heavier riders or those on difficult terrains may need up to four bottles per hour.
Cycle in the morning—the morning is usually the coolest part of the day. While the sunniest point of the day is around noon, temperature will continue to rise for a full three hours before it finally comes down. If you can stand getting up before daybreak, you could cycle in temperatures a full 30 degrees lower than 2 or 3 PM.
Get acclimated—if you typically take 15-mile rides but the temperature has jumped from 60 degrees to 90 degrees, it’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll take the same route as you did in cooler temperature. Acclimating your body to riding in the heat will prevent any serious injuries and ensure that you’re ready for longer rides in high temperatures.
This article was created by Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information on about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally!