Riding a Bike in the Winter

Many people can’t still imagine riding a bike all year long, including winter. A lot of my friends are shocked when they find out that I do it pretty much every day. I think it shouldn’t be this shocking, because the winter season in the Netherlands treats bikers a bit better than in other places (but it is still doable, I know, I have done it).

This winter we haven’t had any snowing in the part of the country I live in, but we have pretty much typical Dutch weather – rain and wind and some more rain on top of that, if you didn’t get wet enough. And some hail to remind us that yes, indeed, it is winter.

Don’t get me wrong, lack of snowing doesn’t mean that temperature here doesn’t drop below 0⁰C. Some people say it is worse without any snow than it is with snow laying on the streets when the temperature is below 0⁰C. But I think it’s personal preference and sentiment we have for white winters in our childhood.

Even though the weather is not the most pleasant to be riding a bike, it is still a good way of commuting to work/school/grocery store and a great excercise. It is cheap, helps to reduce our carbon footprint and doctor bills, as it helps our immune system.

My immune system works way better since I started to ride my bike regularly, even though I ride in the pouring rain and fight with strong winds. When I was using public transportation or just my feet, I was having a cold couple of times during the winter. This winter I had one cold but I got over it very fast, compared to previous years.

It is also a great way to release the stress. Even though I am tired after work and I don’t feel like hopping on my bike, I feel way happier and less tired (sic!) due to endorphins released during cycling.

No car? No problem!

The only factors that you should keep in mind are: dress accordingly to the weather and keep your bike in a good shape – check the tires, clean it after a ride and fix any problems with it as soon as you notice there’s something going on.

One common problem with cycling during winter season is water getting into mechanisms. It can also get into your locks and I had it happen to me. Once the water gets into the lock mechanism, the dirt can stop it from working, so you can lock yourself out of your own bike. Fortunately there’s a simple solution for this problem – WD-40. Just spray it on the key and put it into the lock. After couple minutes it should be working just fine. Of course it would be better to prevent it from happening in the first place, but sometimes it’s hard when you have to leave your bike outside in typical Dutch weather.

To be honest, at this point there are not many weather conditions that would be able to stop me from riding my bike every day, except for when it would be too dangerous or even impossible to do so.

When it’s cold outside, you don’t really feel it – if you are dressed properly – because your body heats up while you cycle. There are so many pros that I enjoy way too much and there are not too many cons – maybe the distance you can ride on it versus distance you can drive with a car. To be honest, it’s not a problem for me but I get that not everyone can switch smoothly to biking. Especially if you are a specialist driving around with your equipment, it would be hard to just hop on a bike and go.

With that being said, riding a bike in winter is doable and can be as much of a pleasure as riding it in any other season. I don’t think there is anything shocking about it. Do you ride your bike during winter? Have you ever considered it? Or maybe it is impossible for you to do?