Winter Biking

Even though temperatures across the country are still well below freezing there are still plenty of people out there riding their bikes through the winter. On this blustery day in Madison Wisconsin a small class of avid bikers have gathered together to learn the finer points of riding around town in some pretty rough road conditions


So on one of the hills practice unweighting your seat a little bit and see if you can pedal standing up a little bit, maybe practice how that feels to change it up. So lighten your seat, you might feel the rear wheel. Yeah that it! Great! Just to get the feel for that.


The students practice making tight turns in a circle. All bundled up in cold weather clothing they plow their bicycles through snow some would hate to drive a car. Angie Lauersdorf is a stay-at-home mom who wants to ride her bike year-round.

Lauersdorf _001

I normally road bike. I started about two years go. And I just really enjoy it. I used to do it pretty much every day and I was missing biking. So I wanted to get out in the winter and do it in snow.


But before Lauersdorf set out on her bike into the snow. She and the other members of  Viola and Allie Dwyer offer specialized classes in bike maintenance through a training program called We All Mechanics. But on this day Viola said the class is all about bike safety while riding through the winter.


It seems that a lot of people like the idea of winter biking, but don’t now how to start. And so our classes try to have an access point for people with the mechanical side of things, while clinics like this are an access point for people just with general biking skills. So if you’ve never biked out in the winter, but always thought it would be a fun thing to do, this is a really supported way to do it.


The clinic provided handy tips on winter riding. The students learned bike maintenance, the importance proper lubrication of the chain and gear mechanisms, the inspection of brakes.


And then temperature regulation can be hard. It’s easy to over heat and get cold and over heat and get cold and so figuring out what types of layers you can wear so you can peel some off along the way. Or do you have to start off cold? That kind of thing. Just getting comfortable with the elements and getting used to the range of normal comfort and what you just have to sort of put up with.


Some might suggest that there’s nothing normal about winter biking. Viola’s co-instructor Allie Dwyer let’s her students know that riding through ice and snow is about a lot more than just staying warm


A big, big deal is having ice tires. So whether or not you feel like investing in both maybe just one, the front ice tire is very important. It’s got studs in it so it makes it very easy to go across ice.


And of course there are other vehicles to consider.


Another big important thing is being visible.  So lot of lights, a rear light and a front light for sure.  Lots of reflective clothing is really going to let you be seen by other cyclists and motorists if you’re out on the same roads that motorists are driving on.

Fade up sound of vehicles:

Even though the price of gasoline has come down dramatically since the beginning of winter, there will always be those like Angie Lauersdorf who prefer bikes to cars.

Lauersdorf _002

For me it’s fun. I mean I really enjoy being out and I…just being outside. You know the wind when you’re biking in your face and just nature kind of. Just being out there is the big thing about biking or the thing I enjoy most.

For the Joy Trip Project this is James Mills.

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I’m a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

  • This is cool. I've tried winter biking but ate a lot of snow and gave up. Thanks for the info.

  • i can't imagine this thing could really be too cold…