Winter Bike Commuting | Why I Try To Ride Year Round

It is getting frigid outside and some may have already seen the first snowfall of the year. For many bike commuters, this change in seasons means it’s time to hang up the bike and start using public transit or driving. (If this sounds familiar it’s because I wrote a similar post when we started into fall). This was my pattern for many years before I had the courage or desire to start bike commuting year round. With winter comes a whole new experience for those of us on two wheels; it can be challenging but also rewarding. Having said that, I am fully aware and respect the fact that it is not for everyone.

Bike commuter in winter.
Riding in winter brings a whole new set of challenges.

I freely admit that cycling during winter can be downright unpleasant at times.  It’s cold. It’s slippery. It’s wet. Not to mention, it’s harsh on your equipment. Despite the extra motivation you need, I still recommend giving it a try.  Living in Canada my options are limited: embrace the winter wonderland or suffer begrudgingly through it. I have chosen to embrace it in all it’s cold, slippery, and wet glory.

cyclist in winter
Hi, I’m Joe. Almost every day I have to remind myself that I have chosen to embrace winter in all it’s cold, slippery, and wet glory.

There is something exhilarating about getting out after a fresh snowfall and really marvelling at the beauty that winter has to offer. It is often quiet and peaceful; the sound of snow crunching under your tires or making the first tracks on the untouched trail.

Pannier bag on commuter bike in winter scene
This was our first snowfall for the year. and it was a gorgeous morning.

I always start out cold, but within minutes I’m warm and all those questioning thoughts have melted away. But let’s be realistic, there are some winter days where one must use good judgement and decide not to ride to work.  I’ve already had to make a judgement call this year when we had some heavy snowfall at the end of my workday. I happened to look out my office window to see a city bus slightly askew and spinning out on the minor incline of the road.  I opted to skip the bike commute home and instead took public transit because I knew it would be safer. In my opinion, heavy snowfalls or freezing rain and a bicycle is an unnecessary recipe for disaster. Sure it took me longer to get home that day, but it gave me a little extra time in my day to catch up on social media!

cyclist in winter
Let me know if you give it a try this year, or have been riding in winter for a while. I’d love to hear your experiences or wisdom.

If you have been commuting throughout the year but are inclined to hang up your bike at the first signs of winter, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  I know many commuters and cycling fanatics that are proud fair-weather riders and I can fully appreciate and respect that. But, if you’re thinking about it – even a little bit, I’d recommend giving winter riding a try.  I know it only took me one ride to love it.

Let me know if you give it a try this year, or have been riding in winter for a while. I’d love to hear your experiences or wisdom.

Have a good ride!

~ Joe

Instagram | @joe.meissner


If you are interested in stories of frozen Alaskan bike races, the rise of fat bikes, and the amazing winter riding culture in Oulu, Finland, this is a great holiday read from our friend Tom Babin (@tombabin on instagram).

Frostbike: The Joy, Pain and Numbness of Winter Cycling

Tom Babin - Frostbike book

4 thoughts on “Winter Bike Commuting | Why I Try To Ride Year Round

  1. Hi Joe, I agree with all your sentiments here. I have been riding in the winters here in Edmonton since the mid nineties. At first as a strictly joy riding mountain biker who thought, why not? To what I am now: a bike commuter all year round who also likes to take his dog on regular rides year round. I’ve ridden through snow storms, in -35C and have much experience with the different kinds of snow and ice we have in our part of the world. Love Frostbike, btw.
    Best, Thom

    Like

    1. Hi Thom, Thanks for the comments! The weather can certainly be unpredictable and I like that you’ve embraced it. It’s not easy to do some days. Hope you enjoyed your ride today.
      Joe

      Like

  2. When I commute by bike, roughly 2/3 of my ride is along a multi-use path that isn’t maintained in the winter. We tend to not get much snow here — we average about 8″/30 cm of precipitation a year — but we do get black ice. I’ll ride for fun in the winter, but the commute just seems daunting. I fear I’m too much of a coward to try it.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comments. I agree – you don’t want to mess with black ice. Studded tires will help a lot, but they’re not magical unicorn tires that would save you in every situation. You’d still need to be careful. And for the record, you’re not a coward. Seems like you’re being pretty reasonable to me. Hope you get out for some fun rides in the winter months.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s