Riding skills – Smart cycling, safe cycling
Winter conditions can bring a few challenges that we do not face in summer. Slippery roads, shorter days and low visibility in some conditions should be considered when biking in winter. Here are a few things to keep in mind while enjoying your winter ride.
The slippery stuff
There are a few skills that take a little practice. Winter brings road conditions such as fluffy snow, ice patches and slush. The number one rule for conquering these obstacles is to know them.
Fluffy snow is actually very fun to ride in. If there is packed snow underneath there is not much to worry about. Enjoy the fresh tracks. Go slower than normal and keep your momentum by shifting to an easier gear and continuing to pedal.
Ice patches are trickier. They can hide under snow, look like melted water or be long and intimidating. If you are approaching ice, or somewhere you suspect there to be ice hiding under a layer of snow, you have two choices; stop and walk your bike around the area or keep on riding. You cannot brake on ice safely, so either slowdown/stop before you get to the ice or commit to going over it by continuing to pedal in an easy gear. This takes a little practice but much like riding on loose gravel, you do get used to it. Studded tires are great in climates that have frequent freeze/thaw cycles. They really grip in and give you the traction you need over ice.
Slush can be filled with salt and dirt and other debris. It is very slippery to ride in due to its consistency. Try to avoid slush if possible. It is better to ride in the compressed tire tracks that cars have made before you, than trying to muscle through this unstable slop. Finding a route that is cleared early and regularly will help you avoid these conditions.