I have golbed before about biking in winter and just biking but I thought I’d pass on some advice to others thinking about it.
There’s a certain type of snow that is not slush but is drier and cakes up. Some drivers call it ‘greasy’ conditions. It shifts as you bike through and is among the most treacherous of hazards for a winter cyclist. Your tire pushes it aside but doesn’t really gain any grip in it. Any imperfection or ice below the surface will make your progress unpredictable. The trick is an easy hand on the handlebars. Too tense and you react too woodenly to the bumps and shifts in your balance. Therein lies the danger. You have to be loose and as soft as the snow. It is hard to do this in practice, though. You really have to enter a zen state and not allow your adrenalin to dictate your grip.
As the winter invariably leads to shorter days, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that you have flashing lights front and back. I like to keep the lights off my bike and on me. This is so drivers are made aware of the more important bit not to hit.
The other key, where it is often impossible to avoid the cars using trails, is to stay a little out from the rightmost part of your lane (if you drive on the right, that is.) Car and truck drivers tend to have tunnel vision in the winter. They usually aren’t expecting bikers and so you have to drive a little more in ‘their’ territory when the bike lanes don’t exist or are buried in snow. This keeps you visible and allows a little leeway when the snow outflow from driveways or intersections crowds you either way.
There are drivers who ignorantly will honk their frustration or drive too close to winter cyclists but these are, in my experience, becoming less frequent. It is hard to say whether this is an improvement in my own, humble driving skills or if drivers are becoming better at sharing the road. I hope both.
There may, too, be a guilty admiration for those who choose to fight global warming. I like to think that. It makes me sit taller in my saddle.
If wishes were horses
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