3 Hot Facts That Will Defrost Any Perceptions of Winter Biking

Bike in snow

Green living seems so easy for those who live in warmer climates, doesn’t it? “Use a clothesline instead of a dryer,” they say. “It’s easy!” they say — all with a straight face and nary a mention of what to do when in mid-November you find yourself attempting to wrestle your sheets back inside after they have solidified into a giant 8-foot-wide frozen slab.

Exactly, honey.

Winter biking

Winter biking doesn’t have to be dreary, lads. Image courtesy of Adams Carroll.

Fear not, Canadians and all other unfortunate souls who find themselves in the cold clutches of winter for six months of the year — an environmentally friendly life is not beyond your reach! You don’t have to wait until the snow melts to show your green side, either.

One way that tried-and-true environmentalists are maintaining their Mother Nature–loving ways throughout the dark months is by winter biking. Does that sound cold, dangerous and unappealing? I thought so, too, initially, and then I realized the following three things:

1. Winter biking is essentially no different than winter driving. You may need to outfit your ride with different tires (winter-biking aficionados recommend tires specifically made for the purpose, or thick mountain bike tires), take caution in allowing yourself enough time to stop, look out for of icy patches, and be aware of snowbanks that may obscure your view. So basically the same precautions you would take when sitting behind the wheel of your frigid car, hands gripping the icy steering wheel, burning fossil fuels while waiting for your engine to thaw, except you don’t have to do any of that anymore, because you’re winter biking!

2. It warms you up. When I first heard about winter biking, it sounded horrific. Why on earth would you willingly subject yourself to the tortures of the elements when you could be cozily ensconced within a warm car or bus? But I was overlooking one simple fact: Our bodies are absolutely amazing. Within a few minutes of biking, your muscles begin to loosen, your breath and heart rate quicken, and your entire body begins to generate heat — faster than most cars do, I’d be willing to wager. Properly equipped in light winter gear, with a proper hat and good pair of gloves (both of which you’d be wearing, anyway), you’ll actually be far warmer biking than you would be standing at a freezing bus stop, or spending 10 minutes chipping ice off your windshield.

3. It’s an incredible way to begin (and end) the day. We have a tendency in our culture to focus almost exclusively on the end result, rather than the process. In everything. So when we commute to work, we try to find the easiest way from Point A to Point B, without much regard for what the journey itself is like. Exercise is an excellent tool to help fight depression — a condition that affects many during the light-deprived winter season in northern climates — and beginning your day with physical exercise, fresh air and sensory stimulation is an unbelievably fabulous way to kick off each day.

Yes, even a Monday.

Looking for eco-friendly storage for your bike? Check out the Kickstand Rear Rack by Green Guru.

Have you taken the plunge and forayed into winter biking? Share your best tips and tricks for getting started in the comments!

Feature image courtesy of Reid Rosenberg

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.