Report from the cold front: Dispatch 2

It's still winter. I'm still riding. I'm still learning.

Don't lean into your turns in the snow/ice: This is something that every article I have read about winter bike riding that goes into the details says, but it can't be said enough. Do not lean into your turns in the snow. It is a very difficult habit to break. Leaning is how bike riders normally make their turns. As it turns out, it is a really good way to end up underneath your own bike in the snow. During the first significant snowfall, I was riding kid-free, and despite having shared the no leaning advice out loud before leaving, I unabashedly leaned into a turn and ended up sprawled on the street. I am thankful for the soft powder in which I landed.

Riding in snow requires a bit of patience and care. Fresh snow, in small amounts is not too difficult to manage. Turns require a lot more handlebar action and they do not tolerate much leaning. Generally, like any other vehicle on the street, I feel best served in the snow by not doing anything too quickly, be it riding, turning, or braking.

Wind chill is a serious challenge: The wind is the most challenging part of the winter bike experience for me so far. Snow and ice are challenging, but the streets get cleaned relatively quickly, and Elgin just does not have that many days of snow. The wind however is always at a low howl. There are two parts to holding back the wind chill. Good insulating layers help. I try to make sure that both the boys and I have good warm layers covering all parts, from head to toe. For the boys, this even includes balaclavas to cover their faces.

The second part is wind proofing. Some of our clothes serve double duty. Each of our coats are wind resistant, as well as insulating. On colder days, I will put the boys in rain pants to add wind resistance, if not snow pants depending on all the weather factors. Legs and torsos are important, but it is pretty easy to get them covered and keep them comfortable, particularly for all the shorter our trips are this time of year. The most serious challenge is hands. Keeping your hands warm in winter is a challenge for a lot of people. The amplified wind chill for bike riding makes it that much more difficult. I have rediscovered the joy of wind proof mittens. This has also turned out to be the primary discomfort for the two year old as well. Now no one leaves the house without a hand protection evaluation for the current and anticipated weather conditions.

Prototype of a winter bubble:
I am also experimenting with using a stroller cover as a winter bubble for my passengers. This is a Joovy Stroller cover we already had. I am still working on the frame work for making it more comfortable. It is an idea I had seen previously from a more industrious Yuba Mundo rider.

Stay warm and happy pedaling!


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