Tips for Winter Cycling

When the temperature drops, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get in the saddle. Here are eight tips for how to conquer those winter roads with minimal discomfort.

It’s that time of year again. In many places around the country, it is getting cold; however, that doesn’t have to keep you off the bike. Follow these eight winter cycling tips for an enjoyable riding experience this season.


1. Dress properly.

To stay warm during a winter ride, think in terms of your head, hands, feet and torso. Most of your body heat escapes through your head, so using a balaclava under your helmet will help keep you warm. Wear either long fingered gloves or mittens to protect your hands, and thermal socks to keep your feet warm. If it’s really cold, consider wearing two pairs of socks and use thermal shoe covers to keep the wind off your feet. Wear layers to keep your torso warm, including a lightweight, breathable outer jacket that is both water and wind resistant. It also helps to use fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. This will help keep you drier and warmer. As a general rule of thumb, use leg warmers to protect your knees when the temperature drops below 60° F.

2. Start warm.

Never start your ride with a chill. This is a recipe for a miserable outing because your extremities will get cold very quickly. Start your ride feeling warm, perhaps even a bit too warm. Have a hot drink in a warm room just before you step outside. This will allow you to warm-up on the bike more comfortably.

3. Be visible.

In many locales, drivers do not expect to see cyclists on the road during winter months. Wear brightly colored clothing, and use reflectors and lights, even if you won’t be riding after dark. It can be difficult to spot cyclists during twilight hours and a good set of bicycle lights (e.g., headlight, rear flasher) will significantly boost your visibility.

4. Plan your route in advance.

There can always be debris on the road, bike path and shoulder; however this is more common during winter months. Determine your route in advance and make sure it is relatively clear of debris and safe for cycling. In addition, shorten your route during the winter. Otherwise, you may run out of energy or just get too cold and find yourself far from home. Identify a circuit near your residence that allows you to cut the ride short if necessary.