Can you bike in the winter?

Can you? Yes. Should you though? Sure, why not.

Unfortunately this is not my bike.

Winter biking is about preparation and discipline. So is a business. The same traits that prompt me to try winter biking also prompted me to open an Etsy store. So, this still relates to Quest for Cute 😉 I dare you to challenge yourself and bike once this winter!

I wrote this post in November, which is fully fledged winter in Minnesota (Wisconsin, I miss you). You may have thought good biking weather ended in September. WRONG! You can bike all year, except for maybe December-January (depends how snow covered the bike lanes/trails/sidewalks are).

Well my friends, I am about to demystify winter biking! The key is layers. Here is a list of what I wear:

  1. Sweatpants

That’s right, sweatpants! The kind you get from college. You could also probably purchase them from any superstore for a reasonable price. Notice how I didn’t write spandex?

2. Leggings

Sometimes when it gets chilly (around 10 degrees) I will wear leggings under my sweatpants.

3. Athletic shoes

My feet actually don’t get very cold while biking, but if your toesies are prone to freezing, you could wear boots, or plastic bags over your shoes (seriously, bags are great) I wear normal athletic shoes with some socks!

4. Socks!

I wear crew socks until it drops to the notably chilly temp of around 10 degrees, then I will wear my wool socks.

5. Shirt

Ever heard the expression ‘cotton kills’? Cotton won’t keep you warm or dry- it will keep you wet and and cold though! My bike commute is short enough that cotton doesn’t pose a danger (about 7 miles, takes me about 40 minutes) so I still wear cotton sometimes, but otherwise I wear a long sleeve or short sleeve dry wicking Nike shirt. You can definitely tell the difference in the quality.

6. Sweatshirt

Ok again cotton kills, but I alternate between a cotton and polyester sweatshirt depending on my laundry situation. The shirt helps buffer the sweat, so no dying during my 7 mile ride.

7. Windbreaker

You know those 3 layer jackets you get from Columbia or Northface? I just use the outer shell over my sweatshirt. I found the inner fleece to be itchy, constricting, and gross after biking. The sweatshirt is roomier.

8. Gloves + Mittens

Hands do get cold, and you need a little more mobility to effectively shift and break. I wear a pair of wool gloves underneath loose, soft mittens. This gives me the warmth and mobility I need.

9. Balaclava

I wear a face mask when it hits between 10-20 degrees. It keeps my face toasty.

10. Hat

I always wear a hat, starting around 55 degrees and under, otherwise ears get chilly! I wear it on top of my balaclava too.

11. Glasses/Goggles

I wear cheap safety classes I got for $10 off Amazon to stop the wind from freezing my eyeballs at zero degrees. They do fog up a little bit, but for the price and the infrequency of me biking in 0 degrees, it works just fine. My husband got a pair of ski goggles for $40 from REI on sale, which seem to work well and don’t fog up. Also, he looks a lot cooler than I do. But otherwise, cheap glasses will do, especially when paired with the balaclava and hat.

So that’s all my gear. But gear will only get you so far, and you may be wondering- what about the ice???

I did in fact hit a patch of ice last year and slid off my bike. The good news is, there was so much snow it was like landing into a snowy cushion. I only had a bruise where my saddle hit my thigh, but other than that, it was a pleasant fall. Also, my multiples layers padded me as well. As long as there isn’t a foot of snow to bike through, you can bike! 🙂

Additional accessories to consider:

A safety vest ($10 at Menard’s)

Here in Minnesota, it gets dark at 4:30PM in the winter. That means I am always biking in the dark. I noticed a visible difference when I started biking with a high visibility vest- cars gave me the space I needed, they were like “Whoa this girl is safe! Here’ s a 20 foot buffer!”

Front and rear light

We never see the light of day in the north. I like to have front and rear lights to increase my visibility and spot and patches of ice.

Pannier

This is a given! I use it for every season to carry my crap around. It’s waterproof and can hold alllll my layers, for those last minute Midwestern weather changes!

Bus Pass

In case there’s a last minute snow storm and you actually can’t bike home :0

Cell phone

So you can call your friend to pick you up if you beef it on the ice 🙂

That’s it for now! Give it a try and let me know how it went. Remember to take it slow, keep an eye out for ice, and enjoy the freedom of winter biking and the trails all to yourself.