|Large snow piles abound this time of year... more frequently than I'd like to see in bike lanes too.|
But, many people do just that, so I think we need to put on our big kid pants and figure out ways to survive and hopefully actually enjoy what is a decent chunk of the year.
To date, the way I get through winter is generally figuring out subsections of the cold season and splitting it up in my mind to make it to spring. For example, I tell myself that if we make it to January, it will be the new year and then it is almost February, which means spring is just around the corner.
The problem is, this doesn't always work. We have years when snow comes in early October and years that it doesn't leave until mid-May (It has snowed on Mother's Day, for instance). For the math challenged (like myself) that means we have 7-8 months of potential snow and more importantly for my purposes, ice to contend with on the roads.
|Look at that icy sheet forming on the road... if only snow would just immediately melt and dry.|
There's also a part of me that doesn't want to have the corrosion that comes from riding through snow on a bike that isn't immediately cleaned up upon return. Late in every year I always ponder the idea of picking up a very inexpensive mountain or wider-tire-capable bike on Craigslist, eBay or other related site just to beat up through the winter-like months, but have yet to actually do so. I'd prefer either a single speed or internally geared option as my trials with a derailleur in snow have been challenging - and disc brakes would be my preference as well. As someone who is rather klutzy, giving myself any added boost in confidence is beneficial when the elements are against me and my natural tendency to trip, slip, or fall.
Still, the hardest hurdle to overcome is a mental one.
It isn't that I don't or haven't ridden in the snow or the cold, so I can't use it as an excuse. However, finding the will to want to go out initially into 5F/-15C degree or colder weather is a bit more challenging. It's cold, and it doesn't matter how many layers I have on, there is some part of me still exposed to the briskness. Once I get moving, I do get a groove and realize it isn't bad at all, and generally temperatures do warm a bit, but that initial jump to force myself out the door seems to be the biggest obstacle.
Some people I know use early spring cycling events to motivate them to continue to ride through the winter, some choose only to ride indoors on a trainer and walk to destinations rather than ride, and still others find the challenge of getting out at all in the cold intolerable and choose simply to train or commute only when the seasons or intermittent days in winter are warmer. While I understand the reasons behind all the choices, I don't personally like the idea of giving up riding for several months of the year.
All in all, I really do think that it's entirely possible to keep riding through the snowy seasons, but I'd like to find a way to do so more frequently.
How do you get through winter months? Do you enjoy them and the challenges that can be presented, or have you found a way to mentally appreciate what the cold brings? Do you change bikes through winter or continue to ride the same bike? What sort of tips would you offer to others that have worked for you to keep riding when the weather isn't necessarily as cooperative as a person on a bike might prefer?