Several years ago I visited Minneapolis a city which despite spending several weeks of the year under several inches of snow maintains a strong cycling culture. Minneapolis isn’t unique. Copenhagen is often sited as the cycling capitol of the world while being no stranger to heavy snow fall. Truth is there is no reason a little snow (or even a lot) should stop you cycling.
Later today it may or may not snow; just incase the forecast is correct we thought we’d off you our top tips on how to cycle in the snow and what to do when the snow melts. In a land of heavy snowfall there are specific products to help this task but in our context I can’t imagine anyone paying £70 for studded tyres, our tips are therefore much more focused on your riding technique.
Firstly remember that even the lightest dusting snow fall will predictably result in a significant drop in the number of people commuting by bike. Those people still need to get from A to B. When you think about it that’s kind of ironic because if there’s one thing snow guarantees it’s that all other transport options will become painful in the extreme. Catching the train on a snowy day will soon have you longing for your bike!
So here’s how to keep going.
Prioritise Keeping Warm
It’s beenpretty cold all week and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. Cold shouldn’t mean you stop cycling it just means you need to dress appropriately. Layering is key and remember to keep an eye on your extremities gloves, thick socks and hats are a must.
If you don’t normally ride with a helmet now might be a good time to express just a fraction more caution. Snow may freeze to ice leading to slippery surfaces and an increased risk of falling.
Before your mind gets carried away with this being a reason not to cycle at all remember that the risks associated with slipping on your bike are notably less than those of loosing control in a car.
Drop Your Tyre Pressure
Grip is important so it makes sense to do all you can to maximise your surface area.
Swap Your Pedals
Snow is probably not the best time for clipless pedals. Take five minutes to swap them over to flat pedals. Don’t have any, just grab a cheap pair; your clipless pedals will be back on in days if not hours. Remember always to lube pedals before fitting and be cautious not to cross thread.
Reach For Your Old Bike
If you commute on a nice slick road bike but have an old mountain bike at the back of the garage now might be just the time to reach into the back of the garage with your duster, lube and track pump.
Test your braking before you need to. A little snow may lead to the need for braking a little earlier than usual. Test this before you need to.
Keep It Lubed
The forecast for snow means the gritters will be out and grit is lethal for your bikes transmission. Take a few minutes to wipe down your bike, or even better a quick rinse and then relubricate.
Despite the reality that very little has changed there’s a tendency to ride as if you’re in the fight of your life. Don’t! Keep relaxed and try to enjoy the ride. A relaxed body posture adds to your control and thus your safety.
Easy On The Front Brake
The last thing you want to happen is for your front wheel to lock on a small patch of ice making it very difficult to maintain control. Remember that most patches of ice will be very small in which case your best course of action is simply to roll over them.
When the snow melts it leaves sludge saturated by salt which is highly corrosive. It’s imperative that you take time to give your bike a really good clean rinse using a bike specific cleaner if at all possible. Once you’ve washed and dried take time to thoroughly relubricate. Failing all of that feel free to book in for a deep clean.
So then, that’s our tips feel free to share yours.