Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day!

Today is the opening day of snow bike season!

"Snow biking?" you say, "That's sounds miserable."

Sure, there are a few drawbacks to riding your bicycle in the snow. Like:

1. It's cold.
2. It's a little squirrely.
3. Brown snow

But you can get over most of that. Let's address these points:

1. Wear layers. When you spin the pedals you'll start burning up that burrito/pancake/apple/latte you had for breakfast and you'll warm up. As long as you're properly layered you can keep that hard earned heat all to yourself (or strip down in case of overheating...). I also think that a few lighter layers are easier to maneuver in than one big bulky one. I prefer the raincoat/vest/fleece/t-shirt combo over a ski jacket any day.

2. Ride slower. What major form of transportation isn't a little slower when it's snowing?

Pay attention. Drivers tend to be more aware when the weather's not great*, but you should still be extra mindful of the traffic around you.

Ride with the minimum air pressure suggested on your tires. It'll give you more traction, but beware of hidden pinch-flat traps like potholes and curbs. If you have the option, ride a mountain bike. The wider, lower pressure tires and lower gearing all help.

I also try and wait until the plows have made a pass or two.

If all else fails and things get slip-slide-y, don't panic. Just like in your car, no sudden movements, just go with it and you'll probably be fine. Or you'll be in a snowbank. Wear a helmet.

3. Brown snow is gross. The problem is that cakes up (see picture above), which makes fenders less practical. You can still ride with brown snow caked up into your fenders, but when you drag your bike into your apartment building and all of that sludge melts onto the floor, someone is going to be bummed.

So what's the solution? Rain pants! I know this is New England and only lobstermen are supposed to wear rain pants. New Englanders hate rain pants the way Pacific North Westies hate umbrellas. You stay dry, warm (it's one more layer), and brown snow free. Without fenders you can just kick off all of that snow before you drag your bike inside. I also happen to prefer the look of a bicycle sans fenders... but maybe that's just me.

Happy holidays and happy winter riding!

*This statement has not been verified and may be wishful thinking.


  1. Fenders are a must for winter, period. Look at that crank and chain in the picture -- without a serious cleaning, it's all going to hell pretty quickly. And if you ride every day, that's a cleaning every day. As for the claim that the melting of the slush caked on the fenders is a show stopper, that's utter nonsense. What about the stuff on the bottom bracket in your picture? That's not a problem?

    This is New England. Get fenders. They make winter riding a pleasure, increase safety (brakes are much less likely to foul), and significantly reduce post-ride maintenance.

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