Winter Biking Primer
Brrrr! Don't let the weather knock you out of your bike commuting routine. On a recent trip to Chicago, Streetfilms had the opportunity to go on a ride and get several helpful tips for making winter biking not only do-able, but enjoyable. So today, as temperatures sit in the single digits in New York City, we thought we would provide you with a little winter riding inspiration from our friends in the mid-west.
Julie Hochstadter: [00:01] If you bike in the summer, it’s not that hard to bike in the winter. You just need to have the right clothes and a couple of good tips.
Jason Jenkins: [00:13] There’s a few steps in getting ready for cycling through the winter. And I kind of like to think of it as starting from the inside out, and really the very first place is just start with up here, mentally. You know that it’s not going to be as bad as you might think. The rest of it is really is more about not really trying to stay warm but actually just regulating the heat. One of your biggest enemies when you’re riding in the winter is actually overheating. Picking the right clothes is important there. One of the first things that I think is important is a good set of long underwear. You know this isn’t your granddad’s waffle weave cotton Sears and Roebuck long underwear. This is synthetic and it’s designed to pull moisture off your body and help it evaporate. A second layer of just a wool sweater is always a great mid layer. And then on the bottom, I’m a big fan of jeans and then an outer layer. And I think it’s more important for your outer layer to be windproof than it is for it to be waterproof. What I love about mittens is they keep you warmer because your whole hand is sharing all the heat. For feet, you definitely want to give yourself some nice sets of thick wool socks, and then just some good winter boots. And the important thing to know about shoes is you want to have a lot of room in there. Once we step outside we’ll talk about a couple of more things just in terms of safety and riding. But that’s a good start for keeping yourself warm.
Jason Jenkins: [01:31] We’re outside now, we’re going to get rolling. There’s a couple more items that I just want to talk about clothing wise. Headgear, really big fan of a thin insulating skull cap. And then the infamous balaclava, not to be confused with baklava which is the Mediterranean dessert. A lot of people ask if you need a special bike to ride in the winter. I think when 99% of the winter that it’s not necessary, you can use the same bike all year round. One thing that is really nice to have on your bike though is a good set of full fenders. Alright, ready to go?
Jason Jenkins: [02:08] I don’t know about you but I definitely get the winter blahs, so being able to get outside on my bike, even if it’s just for my commute to work and back and get some sun makes a big difference in my mood throughout the winter.
Jason Jenkins: [02:20] We’re on Stage Street right now, about to cross over one of Chicago’s many bridges. Bridges present sort of a problem in the winter. Some of our bridges are filled in, but the ones that are just bare metal grading can get a little slippery.
Jason Jenkins: [02:37] So now we’re on the Lakefront trail running right alongside Lake Shore Drive, which is a State Highway. One of our biggest events of the year is Bike to Drive. We shut down this road for 18 miles and let people ride their bike on it. We get about 17 to 20,000 people every year.
Speaker: [02:53] We keep an update on our website about Lakefront Trail conditions so you can always go onto our website at www.atactivetrans.org and check out the Lakefront path conditions for that day and we’ll let you know if it’s safe to go.
Speaker: [03:09] We’re here at Boulevard Bikes in Chicago for Boulevard’s winter happy hours. When you’re out during challenging weather and you see someone else biking, you know, you’re more likely to say hi or wave to them because you’re kind of in the same boat.
Speaker: [03:21] I ride my bike in the winter to prove how tough I am and to have the bike lane to myself.
Speaker: [03:25] We do ride our bike all seasons here in Chicago where it gets mighty cold. There is good public transportation in Chicago but then there’s the waiting and the carrying stuff and a bike can carry things for you.
Speaker: [03:36] We do our best to support year round cycling. I think anybody riding their bike in the winter should have fenders on their bike and oil your chain every time it gets wet.
Julie Hochstadter: [03:47] I sold my car two years ago. I just decided that I could get around without a car and even do my real estate work. I feel great. I couldn’t believe how much I was sweating in 20 degree weather.
[04:01] Riding in single digits is a lot better than riding in above
freezing temperature when it’s sleeting because it’s very hard to
stay warm when you’ve got wet moisture accumulating on your body.