Today was a beautiful day for biking. It was a balmy 4 degrees Celsius (39ºF) here in Toronto in mid-December. Yup, that’s Toronto, Canada. While 4 degrees may be a bit chilly for some, it feels like spring for us and its the type of weather that leads to Canadian fashion faux pas like shorts and snow boots.
Regardless of the taste of spring I enjoyed today, I have no doubt that winter will arrive…sometime. And for many of us that means the end of bike season. When this time comes my bike hibernates under a tarp on the porch while I brush the salt stains off my snow shoes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are lots of people that brave the elements and engage in winter biking. And as the City of Toronto website notes, although there’s still a good lot of the population that keeps on trekin’ - we’re not the bravest of them. It’s pretty clear that city’s official position is that we’re wimps as they state,
“Fact: Many cities have higher volumes of cycle commuters who continue riding through winter than Toronto. They have more year-round riders despite factors such as colder weather, wind or levels of precipitation.”
So with that bit of motivation, the City’s website provides a whole wack of information about how to deal with snow and ice, keeping warm and dry, and maintenance tips. As with most things it’s important to dress for the occasion and that means lots of layers and making sure you’re visible in the dark and stormy weather with lots of reflectors and lights. Since the snow and salt can take its toll, you may want to consider getting an inexpensive “beater bike” for the winter months. Craigslist may have some deals or see if there’s a shop in town that sells refurbished oldies.
Check out the illustration below, courtesy of the Toronto Star, for an idea of some of the gear you’ll want to have in the coming months. The coolest thing about winter biking? The opportunity to wear a balaclava! Badass.
(P.S. If you’re confused by the ‘pinko’ reference you can get up to speed on the Toronto inside joke here.)
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