Saturday, December 26, 2009

Biking in Seattle’s Winter

Biking in winters in one things, while biking in rains another. If both get clubbed together its a whole different pie. It was my first winter season where I attempted biking. I read quiet some blogs and informational articles on ‘how to’ n ‘what not not to’ but nothing was specific to the weather in Seattle.

There are some key things always to consider when you plan to go out for that butt freezing joy ride. Its a careful amalgam of gear, bike maintenance, bike accessories, and caution.

Clothing: One key thing to consider before you start is to that never get overdressed. Gear up, go out, you should still feel a little cold. Overdressing not only restricts your body movement, but also makes you ride heavy.

  • Must is a waterproof, wind breaker light weight jacket. You don’t need a puff daddy insulate jacket as enough body heat is generated.
  • Never compromise the dexterity of your fingers. So pick your gloves carefully, which are water n wind proof for biking. Fingertips specially get frozen while biking, so pick the ones with mittens.
  • Waterproof shoe covers are a must. Water can still seep through so tape it further in addition to the default Velcro with a reflecting tape. Use warm socks.
  • A waterproof light weight skull cap, which covers your ear. These are thin specially designed for biking in winter. They fit well under the helmet. If your nose gets frozen pick up a Balaklava.
  • Never wear a cotton base layers. As once moist you feel cooler. Pick synthetic full sleeves and wear a full forearm warmer on top of it.
  • Water n windproof pants are available, but might get uncomfortable, as they are similar to rain pants. I use full leg warmer pants and wear my regular biking shorts on top for padding comfort.

Bike accessories: Winters come along with shorter days thence lights & reflectors are very important. Your winter jacket and pants should have reflectors at the same time you must use reflective bands at ankle and arms.

  • Waterproof bag is good if you bike to work, and red flashing lights mounted under bike seat and your bag helps in visibility of you while on the road.
  • Front white lights are available in LEDs and bulbs which must be flashing.
  • Fenders… they not only help your shoes to be clean from tangential sprays of mud n water but also keep the person behind you safe.

Bike Maintenance: Water rusts your chain so make sure to lubricate them weekly. Mud n dirt gets stuck to your brake shoes and wheel rim, clean them periodically.

Caution: Winter comes along in Seattle with black ice on the road. Leaves mixed with water n dirt, and any metallic rails or manhole covers may be icy and slippery. Ride slow and careful. Try to use familiar routes, and while going downhill lean a little backwards to balance better. If possible use thinker tires on your road bike for traction. Going too steep uphill in rains can be dangerous. If in doubt dismount and walk.

Post Biking Measures: Walk slowly in small steps. Its important as your toes might be a little numb. Do a little stretching to ease out. Get adapted to the room temperature before you step in the hot shower.

Happy biking….

1 comment:

Harshita said...

I am sure whoever plans to venture out in the winters for some biking in Seattle will find all this information really helpful. You have filled tht void of valid info that was there.

Happy Biking :)

All I ask for is some pics frm this adventure to be posted here.Pls.