Practical Tips For Cold Weather Bike Riding

Autumn, what a welcome season that yields the way to many fresh and exciting activities. There’s something in the air this time of year that brings out the desire to go outside and do something exciting. 

Although this article is mainly about bike riding in the fall, you don’t want to miss out on the many other fun activities that the fall season brings. All in all, we should be certain to get out and do something to benefit our health.

You can visit the apple orchards and pick your own apples. Take a tour of the apple mill and watch how apple cider is made. And to top it off, take home a gallon or two of the sweetest apple cider you’ve ever tasted. 

How about taking part in the hayride at the pumpkin farm and then warming yourself by the campfire while singing songs, cooking hot dogs and of course, toasting marshmallows. And to keep the children in check, you gotta tell some of those scary ghost stories. You know, it’s tradition. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.

With autumn comes beautiful scenery, cooler weather, fresh air and no bugs, yes, no bugs, which are all good reasons for bicyclist to enjoy riding even more. Did I mention, no bugs? A lot of riders will gear up for fall and winter, especially in the northern or colder regions of the country.  

Keep in mind, as we enter into fall, the days are becoming shorter and cooler. So while you’re out after dark, take steps to keep warm and incorporate safe bike riding smarts. 

Throughout the summer your drive-train was no doubt exposed to extreme heat and dusty conditions. Typically, at the end of the summer season, it is a good idea to prepare your bike for winter. 

Fall Bike Riding Checklist

  • Clean your components with warm soapy water using a rag to wipe it down. It is not recommended to use a hose because it’s better not to get the components wet. A toothbrush may help to get to those hard to get places. 
  • Check your tires and make sure they are properly inflated.
  • An ID bracelet containing wearer identification, emergency contact information and medical data is a smart way to help keep your fall and winter rides safe. 
  • At night, wear reflective clothing for better visibility by motorist. Make sure to have reflectors and lights on your bike also.
  • Wear A Helmet. Make sure your CPSC approved bike helmet fits properly. It should not wobble or flop around on your head when your chinstrap is buckled. Even with a great helmet, you might be unconscious if you crash. 
  • Carry ID, any important medical information, emergency contacts, and your insurance information. Cell phones can be handy in an emergency.
As you venture out on a fall or winter ride, keep in mind that weather conditions can change throughout the day. It can be 30 degrees in the morning and warm up to 50 or 60 degrees in the afternoon. A sudden change in the wind could make it feel much colder. Always be prepared!

How should you dress?

  • Dress in layers. Have several wardrobe items that can perform well under a variety of  conditions. Combining a thermal undershirt, arm warmers and a short-sleeved jersey is a smart combination, because the warmers can come off when the day heats up.  
  • Once you’ve acquired a versatile wardrobe of cold weather gear, start experimenting with different combinations to find the ideal mix for a variety of conditions. 
  • Think in layers. The last thing you put on should be the first thing you’ll want to take off.
  • Use Breathable Fabrics. The last thing you want to do is to trap sweat on your body. Make sure whatever you buy is made of a material that won’t trap moisture. The inner layer’s primary job is to absorb sweat and moisture from your skin.
  • Don’t forget your extremities. Most of your body heat escapes through the head. Many newer helmets accommodate a cycling cap or headband, which often is all you need to keep your head warm. If it’s cold enough to make you wonder if you need a cap, put one in your pocket. 
  • For hands, begin with a thin glove or liner made from wool or CoolMax, then add a thicker, more waterproof glove as needed. 
  • Keep your feet protected. Wear socks made from fabrics like wool which are light, comfortable and breathable. If you don’t have weather resistant shoes, add a weather-resistant overshoe or bootie when the temperature drops.
Enjoy Riding in Any Weather. Every day is a great day for riding when you are prepared with bike smarts. With the right riding attire and gear you can safely and comfortably ride on days when the temperature dips well below freezing. Yes, you can even ride on those days that you may never have considered before. Happy riding!