Late last night and early this morning, Denver got its first dose of snow for the season. It’s been a long time coming, and will hopefully be the first of much more to fall. On another note, today was my 62nd day of biking to work (18th in the past 3 weeks) since June 25th. It’s been three and a half weeks since I last filled my car up with gas, and I have around 5/8 of a tank left. I’m fortunate to have a job within five miles of home, making for a quick and easy bike commute.
Here are some tips for making it through the next few, cold months:
Wear an appropriate amount of warm clothing, preferably with a snug fit. You don’t want to be dressed to warmly, or you’ll be sweating by the end of the ride, which is never a good thing (especially when it’s cold). A tighter fit will reduce wind resistance, making the ride that much easier, especially in the windy mornings that Denver has almost daily in the winter.
Ski gloves. Several companies make warm gloves made for cold-weather cycling. Forget them, just use a pair of cheap ski gloves. The hand shape is right and they’re much warmer.
Clear safety glasses. These would have been very handy this morning, but I managed to forget them at home. Blowing snow (especially compounded by 15-20mph bike speeds) can be blinding and painful.
A face mask, for colder mornings. So your face doesn’t freeze. I’ve got an under armor neck/lower face one that’s perfect, or a full-face if it’s really bad. Alternately, just don’t shave. Beards are nature’s face mask, and even just a couple days worth of stubble can work wonders.
Good shoes. I use the Shimano MT70, available from BackcountryOutlet.com for at least half off. They’re the perfect commute shoe – comfortable to walk in, with two-hole cleat compatibility and with a goretex membrane. My feet were still cold this morning, so wear heavy socks if it’s really cold.
A mindset towards avoiding braking, when it’s wet. Wet brakes don’t work as well, plus they wear down much faster than when it’s dry. A fixed-gear bike would help with this, but the right riding style helps immensely as well.
If you have a mountain bike and are really serious about it, there exist studded tires. These are available at Backcountry and other retailers, and will make you nearly indestructable in even the worst conditions.
Winter has finally arrived in Denver, so go make the most of it!