We're kicking off 2023 with a new SRCC monthly educational topic. In addition to these posts, expect for a discussion at the start of some of the rides addressing each month's topic.
Sonoma County’s winters are mild enough that one doesn’t have to contend much with snow and ice. It never seems to stay below 40º on even the coldest day. So the primary concerns are staying warm, contending with dampness and road grit, and staying visible.
Warmth: A really good tip is to warm up before you go outside or get on the bike. Do jumping jacks or another routine to get the blood flowing. Of course, do dress in layers. A neck gaiter or buff allows you to adjust your head covering to match the conditions. Gloves and shoe covers round out the insulation for your extremities. If you have leg covers and a shell, you’ll protect against most of the wind effects of the cold. An SRCC member once showed me how to start my rides with medical gloves inside my bike gloves. After it warms up a little, these can be discarded, but they take the edge off on a cold morning. I have “cat ears” on one of my helmet’s straps. They reduce wind noise and also keep my ears protected from the cold wind.
Keep your bike clean: More grit and moisture tends to get on your bike in the winter. Fenders, wet-weather chain lube (attracts less dirt) and more regular wash-downs are a good for cold riding. Keep a 5-gallon bucket with a thick car wash sponge in it outside for when you return. A quick sponge down of your bike is more effective and safer than spraying with a hose. Some people prefer to run larger tires and slightly lower pressure for added traction and confidence.
Visibility: Not only are the days shorter in the winter, but the sun also sits lower in the sky. This means that you may want to dress brighter and keep front and rear lights on more while you’re riding. High visibility clothing is great year-round, but especially worthwhile in cold weather. When you’re bundled up, you may have more interfering with your vision. Remember that drivers may also contending with reduced visibility due to glare and dirty or wet glass. Compensate by being obnoxiously visible—it will be appreciated by those around you.
Note to eBike Riders: Cold temperatures can cause your battery to be depleted, so it’s best to store the battery in a warm place.
Some extra ideas:
- Nice GCN video on “Preventing Cold Feet”
- I’ve become a fan of the oxygen activated hand and foot warmer packets. Buy a box and put a pair in your shoes or gloves.
- Bring your hot drink with you! Substitute a thermos for one of you water bottles, and it will really cheer you up to take a sip.