Here’s how we do it:
1) Studded Tires – Today, you can get studded tires from 30mm to 4.8in wide to fit mountain bikes at all wheel sizes, and any disc brake road bike (and Seven’s RedSky series, too, if you like rim brakes). Nothing provides the confidence to take on winter riding quite like a pair of studded tires.
2) Bar Mitts and Boots – Hands and feet bear the brunt of the cold when you’re riding, so we like Bar Mitts to keep our hands warm, and a pair of serious winter cycling boots like these or these. You will be surprised how much easier it is to get out the door once you’ve solved the problem of cold hands and feet.
3) Layers – One of the great things about riding is that it raises your body temperature, so you won’t be cold long. That means that your best strategy for regulating comfort will be layering your clothing. We like full zip jerseys and jackets that we can open when we’re warming and close when we’re cooling off.
4) Friends – We all like a solo ride for clearing our minds and simplifying things, but in winter we prefer to travel in packs. We’re more likely to show up for a ride if friends will be there.
5) Adventures – All the places we go during the year are different in winter. Sometimes the thrill of a cold weather ride is just in seeing old sights through new eyes. They say it’s the journey, not the destination, but in wintertime, we make sure the destination is part of the motivation.
With spring in the New England air, the time to gird our loins against snow and cold has (mostly) passed. Now we just have to concern ourselves with staying upright on the ice that comes from snow melting during the day and refreezing at night. We’re all still running our studded tires, so it shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, if there is one lesson from this record setting winter season, it’s that there is no weather that doesn’t offer the promise of fun on a bike. We challenged ourselves to ride through snow storms this year. We braved the cold. And we found, over and over, that riding bikes was still fun.
Next fall we will look back and know there is nothing to be afraid of when you have a bike suited to its purpose and a love for riding to keep you warm and willing.
We’re at a funny spot in our local cycling season. After record snow and cold, we are beginning to see more sunlight and significant melt. Many of us have been riding our Evergreens all winter with studded tires, which are good for keeping you upright on icy surfaces. You don’t go fast with studded tires, but arrival at your destination is more likely. We have had fun riding through snow storms, through cold snaps, over icy trails and slick roads. The time has come, maybe, to think about switching back to an everyday tire, like a 32mm file tread.
It was in contemplating that change, and ultimately deciding that we have more ice in front of us, that we realized the value of the Evergreen.
In the summer we ride dirt roads, trails, gravel, pavement, really any surface, on the Evergreen, with tires that range from 25mm road tires to 40mm all-terrain rubber. That range of options for tire selection is a real game changer. Add on top, the effectiveness of disc brakes in foul weather, and you have a bike that will go almost anywhere, at any time of year. We highlighted this bike’s versatility in a post a few months ago, but since then we’ve ridden it in some of the heaviest weather New England has seen in more than a century.
Now, as we contemplate converting back into something like spring riding mode, it is amazing to think of all of the places we’ve ridden our Evergreens over the last year, and how good they are at just about everything. They might just be the most versatile bikes we’ve ever built.
It seems counterintuitive that when this much snow falls (our Boston home has received more than 5 feet of the white stuff in the last 2 1/2 weeks) a two-wheeled vehicle would be better than a four-wheeled one, but that’s exactly what we’re finding. Studded tires add traction on the ice layer beneath the snow, and with the right clothing and only a passing interest in speed, there’s still a lot of fun to be had on a bike right now.
As an added bonus, there are almost no cars on the road, which means the little space that’s left is more than ample for the cyclist willing to brave the elements.
Disc brakes are another great advantage. Our Evergreens start with disc brakes as their default, also clearance for the kinds of tires that split the difference between trail and road.
A little bit of hike-a-bike is necessary on occasion, but getting into the woods this time of year just intensifies the feeling of freedom you get from riding a bike, not to mention the snow limned trees are beautiful, worth the trip alone.
They say, optimists, that when life gives you lemons you ought to make lemonade. That summery advice doesn’t ring quite true right now, but we’re optimistic anyway, finding that there are shockingly few days when riding might not be a good idea.