Riding a bicycle during snowy weather conditions can seem like a difficult and tedious task. However, there are some strategies to biking in cold weather and also be ecofriendly. If you want to bike in the snow, follow these steps.
To begin learning to ride in the snow, bike to places that are familiar and easy routes, such as work or school. Once that becomes easy, riding to recreational or leisure activities becomes less daunting. Sean Rule, a math professor at Central Oregon Community College, rides his bike to work every day regardless of the conditions.
“I usually just ride my bike to get to work,” he says. “I ride from Bachelor to Sisters for fun, but that is usually not as often.”
In terms of how to dress, Sean recommends wearing the same clothing that one would wear skiing. “Weinstock gloves and fabric is the best,” Rule says. It is also important to where a balaclava to protect the face. Although, Sean tends to not use one unless it is super cold.
Deciding when to bike depends on what kind of snow is on the ground. If there is packed snow from a couple days earlier, then it is an easier ride. Speed is less of an issue in these scenarios. If the snow is fresh and powdery, then the chance of slipping increases, and slowing down is recommended.
If it dumps more than six inches of snow, then using bike with fat tires is the best option. On a fat, planning for a much slower and time-consuming ride is necessary.
Sean says that two weeks ago, on Tuesday, he rode up to COCC with 3 inches of snow on the ground. The snow was packed on top of some pact snow. Rule had to stand up to peddle which usually is impossible because of slipping and sliding. If there is ice, take caution.
Sean says that he has never been injured from riding his bike in the snow. He may have slipped and fallen off his bike, but the snow acted as a cushion for him. The key to avoiding those situations is to not lean so much. Maintaining a vertical posture when riding and only turning the handlebars when necessary makes it harder to fall. When turning on a bike, the instinct is to lean. Leaning is good, but leaning with intent can cause the person to lose control and potentially fall.
The best trails to bike on during the winter are those by parks and large recreational areas. Sean usually doesn’t like to ride on trails unless the snow is packed in. If using a fat bike, a good trail to ride is near Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. The trail is perfectly groomed for biking. Another popular trail is Deschutes River Trail, which runs past Sawyer Park and Dutchman Flat Sno-Park. Both the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park and Deschutes River Trail have snow that is packed and makes for an easy ride.
Jack Peeples/For The Broadside