winter cycling

(revised and updated May, 2021)

Keep on Cycling – Don’t Put Your Bike Away

Winter cycling?  You mean getting on a bike in the snow, ice and COLD?  Really?

Frankly, I love riding in the winter.  All of my biking routes look so different than they do any other time of the year.  Of course, the streets I use have been cleared of snow and ice, but those element are often on the sides of the road and in the fields as I pass by.  It is beautiful.

For amateurs like myself, winter cycling is not the time to attempt to break a personal record for a segment on Strava.  The chance of slipping or crashing are too great.  I just take it easy.  The goal is simply to spend some time on the saddle. 

Dress Properly for Winter Cycling

Fact of the matter is, if you are properly dressed for winter cycling, you will find it hard to cycle as fast as you do the rest of the year.  Heavy, full gloves will ensure that your hands are still functional enough to shift gears and break.  A woolen head covering under your helmet will prevent the warmth in you body escaping.  Instead of bulky sweats, get some fleece leg warmers and some arm and leg warmers.

Take on Fluids

You might assume that you do not need to drink as much during winter rides.  In reality, your body uses more energy to keep you warm in the winter.  Drinking hydration fluids and taking on some food or energy gel will make it less likely that you struggle from lack of fuel.  Drinking a warm cup or two of hot chocolate milk is a great recovery reward.

Clean Your Bike More Often

Each winter cycling ride will cause your bike to be dirtier than normal.  Mud, wet gravel, and sand will accumulate on your entire drive train: the chain, cassette, and front chain rings.  If they are not cleaned regularly, this grime will cause them to wear out more rapidly.  So, spend some extra time in the winter cleaning your bike.  If you ride clipless, make sure to check your cleats.  Sometimes they can be impacted with mud resulting in difficulty clipping in and out.    

There is something more important, to me, than the beauty of winter cycling.  If I continue on my biking workouts through the winter, I will not have to start all over again in my fitness in the Spring.  The older I get (67 now), the more difficult it will be to get in shape again, once I have lost my form.

That is not to say that I will not step up my workouts in the Spring.  I do that every year.  But, I do not have to start from scratch.  I have leaned that I can even set a good foundation for the entire year by staying on my bike during the cold months.

A word of bike maintenance advice.  Clean your bike after every ride on the wet or muddy streets.  The grit on the road, be it salt or sand, will play havoc with your gears and chain.  Keep them clean.

And remember to keep warm.  You can always take off layers.

For more complete information for seniors cycling the entire years see our companion site Cycling Seniors.

Winter Cycling Resources:

Here are four great sites to help you cycle safely and enjoyably during the winter:

Also look at: Re-Cycling: Boomers and Road Biking

Are you really into cycling or want to get a broader knowledge of the sport?  We have a partner website Cycling Seniors.  The site is dedicated to recreational, amateur, and competitive cycling.  Commuting by bike, road cycling, cyclocross, and mountain biking are all covered.

Some practical advice demonstrated in this video:


By Chowning

Richard Chowning was a teenager during the 60s. Being a Southern California resident during those years, he experienced many of the events and trends that distinguished those times.

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