I love the fall and as a bike commuter in Colorado that means the occasional snow. The cool thing about this time of year is that the snow doesn’t turn to ice and you can still commute reasonably by bike. It isn’t too much different than rain and actually can be more comfortable since the snow doesn’t penetrate your clothing in the same way.
Keys to successful snow commuting:
- Wide shoulders, bike lanes, trails. I don’t recommend doing too much commuting on roads without shoulders (although I have on snow and ice and that is why I don’t recommend it). It is hard to see the road/bike lane line, as well as where the pavement ends sometimes. So wider is better.
- Cyclocross bikes work best. The narrow tires cut through the snow and tend not too accummulate too much. Mountain bikes can work just fine, however they are much slower and seem to gather a lot more snow. I’ve actually had pretty good luck on road bikes as well. As long as there is pavement and the snow is only an inch or so.
- Indoor storage. Although this isn’t necessary, it is much nicer to have the bike dry and warm when you go to head out in the evening. If you don’t, find cover. If you can’t find cover, bring plastic wrap for the seat so at least your major contact point is dry.
- Major lighting. Of course visibility is key on the roads and nothing is better than a ton of bright lights. Err on the side of expensive because water proof and reliable are key when your 10 miles from home on a country road in the dark.
- Clothing. Obviously water proof is important. I also am a huge fan of layering. So much so that I almost never end up wearing more than a light rain jacket, even in the winter. I go with:
- Wind proof tights or leg warmers (temp depending).
- Shoe covers, I might add a second wind proof layer or those chemical packets if it is really cold
- Lightweight wool socks
- Poly base layer
- Fleece bibs
- Wind proofchest only base layer
- Fleece arm warmers
- Rain jacket
- Ski gloves if it’s really cold or Gor-Tex Wind proof gloves if not
- Fleece cycling cap or stocking cap
- Sunglasses that have the lenses that change with light conditions. Bigger the better.
- Neck Gator
Have fun playing in the snow!