Though the days are short and the rain has hit, biking the streets of Vancouver is still a great form of commuting, exercise, and all around fun! But there are a few things to make note of when biking on these cold wet winter days.
Safety is key, with the most important factor being visibility. It is crucial as a biker that you are visible to both vehicles and pedestrians. Some main things to keep you visible are both front and rear lights—a white front light and a flashing red light on the rear of your bike are the most common choices.
For extra illumination, you can also get lights that clip to the spokes of your tires to really make your bike stand out on a dark evening. One added piece of visibility gear is a reflective vest or sash that can easily be thrown over your jacket. This is often a good choice as it reflects light closer to the eye level of drivers making you more noticeable on the roads.
The next aspect to consider is waterproof gear. A waterproof jacket and gloves make biking in these downpours much more enjoyable. Using waterproof boot covers can also protect your shoes. Waterproof pants are an option, however, one tends to sweat a lot in those. A good alternative is to wear pants that can be easily thrown in the dryer.
Some riders choose to use a helmet cover or a jacket with a hood to keep their head dry. Two more helpful tips: 1) Use a waterproof pannier (bag bike attachment) to carry dry clothes and gear for the day; 2) Keep the mud from spraying up your back and into your shoes with fenders (attachments over bike wheels).
Maintain Your Bike
Checking your bike for mechanical issues every few months is a good habit. Brake pads tend to get worn down quickly with the wet weather, so ensure that they are in good working condition to stop easily. Cleaning your chain regularly to remove dirt will help ensure the longevity of the bike, as well as make your riding easier and smoother. You can purchase specific chain oil that is designed for wet weather riding.
Beware Of Black Ice
It’s also important to be mindful of the weather forecast. If it looks like below zero temperatures may occur overnight, there is a chance of black ice on the roads. Black ice is dangerous for bikers, especially with road tires. When in doubt, play it safe and leave the bike at home on those frosty mornings.
Do a good stretch of your lower body after a long bike ride. The main muscles to target would be your calves, thighs, glutes, hip flexors and hamstrings. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and try to relax into them. Making sure your bike is properly fitted for you will also help in the comfort and safety of your rides.
Don’t let the winter weather stop you from getting out into the fresh air. Biking in the winter can be a lot of fun if you have the proper equipment. Happy riding!
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