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The benefits of pedalling throughout the winter

Don't let the cold and snow stop you from reaping the rewards of cycling this winter

fat biking

fat biking

Many cyclists decide to store away their bikes come the winter months. When mother nature decides to flip the switch and send Canadians the snow and cold, the faint of heart head for the trainer or a prolonged break off the bike. But despite its challenges, riding through the winter has its benefits and seasoned winter riders are sure to tell you it can be extremely rewarding. Whether you decide to commute to work, ride snowy trails or outfit your rig to put on some winter miles, there are all sorts of benefits to discover.

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Appreciate the beauty of winter

Cycling in winter

Winter is a great time to find peace and tranquility. There is nothing like the late afternoon light reflecting off a fresh snowfall and the quiet solitude that can be found pedalling through a frozen landscape. Being out exercising will also do wonders to helping you fight off the darkness induced winter blues. Urbanites often feel winter weather is a nuisance. Unless you enjoy winter activities like snowshoeing or skiing, it can be hard to look forward to winter conditions. Getting out and riding can be an adventurous way to help you appreciate the season.

Develop resilience

Downtown Montreal bicycle courier delivering letters and parcels during a snow storm.

Riding in the winter is all about withstanding the weather. Roads will be more treacherous with ice, snow and slush. The cold will be nipping at your face, feet and hands, and your gear will be tested to its limit. It may be hard to muster up the motivation, but once you get out, you will reap benefits that those hiding inside will be missing out on. The sense of accomplishment you will feel upon returning to the warmth will also be exhilarating. A bonus is that others in your life will be extremely impressed when you tell them you’ve been riding outside all winter. Just make sure you and your bike are well prepared or it could be a challenge to enjoy it.

Improve your fitness

Cycling in the snow

Maintaining your summer form can be tough but one way to make sure you will be starting from scratch next spring is inactivity. Winter is a great time to ride steady instead of smashing intervals. If you can only get out for short rides, you’ll still have less work to do come spring.

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Riding in winter can improve your endurance. The going is often slower so it’s likely to take a bit longer to get from point A to point B. In the snow, you will be pushing a little harder. To need to be more attentive on the bike will also mean that your body will be engaged in keeping you upright, strengthening your core, something that won’t happen on the trainer. When it’s cold out you also get more bang for your buck because your body will be working harder to stay warm.

Work on your bike handling skills

Biker on the road in the forest. Cloudy winter day. Film look image.

Adverse conditions will help you develop better awareness on the road and trails. Traction in snowy and icy conditions can be more precarious so being cautious is very important. Riding in these conditions will also help you develop skills that will allow you to better anticipate dangers on the road. Being able to navigate the snow and ice will build your confidence on the bike.

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Don’t get sick

Exercising regularly also boosts your immune system and people who exercise are less likely to get a cold. Regular excersice was found to nearly halve the chances of catching a cold virus.

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You learn to care for your bike

Group of bikers on the road. Cloudy winter day. Film look image.

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The cold, slush, salt and snow all take their toll on your bike. Parts that have been poorly maintained will come under strain and fail when they are pushed to their limit. Your bike’s bottom bracket and head tube should be well greased, all moving parts need to be regularly lubed and for longevity. Developing regular cleaning habits will go a long way. You need the discipline to keep your machine in good shape or it could need major work when the weather finally warms up. Riding in winter conditions forces you to develop the skills to care for your bike.

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