Nothing tests a commuting cyclist’s commitment more than the changing of the seasons. One month’s warm, dry weather transitions into the next’s stiff breeze and rainy days. Mother Nature is testing your cycling faith. Follow these tips to come out swinging when commuting and cycling four seasons.
Challenge: Cycling four seasons bring hot and cold weather challenges
Fight back: Dress correctly and you can ride in practically any condition. If you don’t have a lot of cash to spend, invest in just a couple of items.
Buy a fleece-lined pair of wind- and water-proof or resistant full-finger gloves. If you choose gloves that aren’t cycling specific, just be sure you can work your shift and brake levers with them on.
Cover your core. Once your core is warm enough, your body will send blood to other regions of your body, such as the legs. A cold core means cold hands, feet and dead legs. Invest in a warm, wicking layer to wear close to the skin.
Layer up. A fleece vest and arm and leg warmers are also great investments, as they can easily be stripped off as it warms up. Buy some waterproof booties if you often ride in wet or slushy conditions. Top it off with a windbreaker or a heavier jacket and you’ll be set to riding in the rain, wind and cold weather.
Challenge: It was once light outside for the evening commute; now the sun is down.
Fight back: A few bike lights and the right color bike clothing will keep commuting by bike safe, even when the sun’s on hiatus.
When you’re piecing together your commuting outfit, consider buying outer layers that are bright or have reflective piping. You can also attach reflective tape and Velcro straps to you and your bike.
Arm yourself with a high quality bike headlight and a battery charging system that fits your lifestyle. Some bike lights recharge via solar power or a computer’s USB port, while others plug into a standard outlet. Stick with what works best for you and always have a backup. Install a red tail light to your bicycle or the back of your jacket, preferably one that flashes. This clues motorists into which direction you’re traveling and that you’re on the road. If you’re new to commuting by bike, play it safe by finding a road or bike path with street lights. Or find a buddy to commute with.
Challenge: You were once eager to be outside, but now your motivation is falling faster than the temperature.
Fight back: Like any exercise program, we all fall off the wagon occasionally. Tap back into what originally motivated you to start commuting by bike. Did you make a promise to yourself or someone else? Why did you decide to go car-free?
Is there a cause for your dip in motivation? Maybe you’re afraid your bike will break down or you’ll slip on the ice. Many common concerns are easily remedied at your local bike shop.
Give yourself a week or two to try to adjust to the new commuting conditions. Chances are that the regular exercise and sunlight will help improve your mood and make the habit stick.
Commit to cycling four seasons with a friend. Not only will you be held accountable for your commitment, but you’ll also have someone to talk to and distract you from the weather.
Have a backup plan. Some days may be too cold or too wet, so don’t be afraid to give yourself a free pass every once in a while.