Canadian winters can be frustrating for cyclists, or they can be fun. It all depends how well prepared you are to brave the elements. With the right gear, though, even the frostiest days can be exciting on two wheels.
Here are the gear essentials to keep you riding with a smile all winter.
Wind chill is real. A good set of goggles can do wonders for keeping your face warm on blustery winter rides. They’ll help you see through blowing snow, too.
These may sound like a luxury, but what’s better than being comfortable on a ride? And what’s worse than pulling frozen toes out of boots at then end of a long day? Other than the burning feeling of regaining feeling in those toes, not much. Anything that makes it easier to get out the door is a good idea in our books.
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Keeping your hands warm is crucial to comfort on the bike, but that’s not the only reason to avoid frigid fingers. Keeping warm keeps you in control of your brakes, shifting and steering. If the cold creeps into your hands, dexterity goes and, with it, the fun factor.
Proper layering is key to enjoying winter rides, whether that’s rainy road rides out west or frigid fatbike excursions in … the rest of Canada. Get your layers right and you’ll be warm without overheating. Get them wrong and you’ll be sweaty, or freezing, or sweaty then freezing.
Normal tights are good for summer and shoulder season, but nothing beats the warmth and comfort of a good pair of fleece-lined tights.
There are a wide range of winter boots for all weather conditions. From waterproof mountain bike shoes to full-on fat bike expedition shoes. Do they make a difference? Absolutely. It’s hard to pedal, or have fun, if you’re just thinking about how cold your feet are.
Daylight hours are a scarce commodity during Canada’s winter months. A good set of lights greatly expands the number of riding hours in a day. Plus, night riding is just real fun any time of year.
The most important part of riding through winter is not getting tired, frustrated, or burned out. Mixing indoor rides into your schedule can keep you fresh and fit enough to make outdoor excursions fun. Not every day has to be a slog through snow, with its associated preparation and clean up. Sometimes a quick spin in a warm living room is all you need to keep the momentum going.