Cycling in Inclement Weather

Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise, but unfortunately Mother Nature has different plans for our rides. If you plan correctly, cycling can be a year-round activity. Here are some tips for cycling safely in weather that’s less than ideal.

In the Snow

Slow down—roads are much more slick and brakes don’t work as well in the snow. You should give yourself twice as much space as usual to come to complete stops at lights or intersections.

Use fenders—nobody likes riding in the snow, but it’s especially miserable if you’re wet. Attaching fenders to your tires will protect both you and your fellow cyclists from spraying slush.

Use an old mountain bike—while fat bikes are great, they often cost $2,000 or more. A mountain bike can be perfectly effective, especially if it’s just been gathering dust in your garage for a while.

Stay away from the curb—what looks like an innocent inch of snow may be hiding a giant pothole or hazardous item. Keeping away from the curb will help protect you from any mishaps. The best place to ride on messy roads is directly in a snow plow or car’s tire path.

In the Rain

Avoid brick—brick and metal surfaces become extremely slick in the rain. It’s best to avoid riding over them. If you must ride over brick or metal, keep your handlebars straight so you won’t skid.

Lighten up—visibility is much harder when it’s raining out, so you should wear at least once piece of reflective clothing. This allows you to stand out against a car’s headlights.

Avoid layers—a common misconception is the more layers you wear, the harder it’ll be for rain to “soak through” and get you wet. Unfortunately if you wear a few non-waterproof layers in the rain it’s likely you’ll just be wet and heavy with all the extra gear. Dress for the temperature, not the weather. Visors or a very light poncho will help keep you dry instead.

In the Heat

Stay hydrated—you can become dehydrated or suffer heat exhaustion very quickly during the summertime. You should start your hydration an hour before your ride to ensure you have enough fluids. A 150-pound rider should have at least one 16-ounce bottle of water for every hour cycled, but heavier riders or those on difficult terrains may need up to four bottles per hour.

Cycle in the morning—the morning is usually the coolest part of the day. While the sunniest point of the day is around noon, temperature will continue to rise for a full three hours before it finally comes down. If you can stand getting up before daybreak, you could cycle in temperatures a full 30 degrees lower than 2 or 3 PM.

Get acclimated—if you typically take 15-mile rides but the temperature has jumped from 60 degrees to 90 degrees, it’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll take the same route as you did in cooler temperature. Acclimating your body to riding in the heat will prevent any serious injuries and ensure that you’re ready for longer rides in high temperatures.

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This article was created by Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally.

Carrying Your Daily Things by Bicycle

Most days when traveling around town or commuting by bicycle, there are two items that I use to carry the things I need on a daily basis: a bag and (sometimes) a basket.

grocery-shopping-by-bicycle

Carry

 Stuff by Bicycle

A bag and a basket are usually all I use to carry the things I need each day.

Keep in mind that I stow a flat tire kit to fix punctures in a separate saddlebag that is always attached to my bicycle. See this video for what I carry in my flat tire kit.

1. Carry Your Things by Bag or Pannier

During the weekdays when I need to carry a laptop (and sometimes an external monitor) I carry those items and accessories in a pannier that hooks on to the rear rack of my bicycle--like the Bergen Pannier Bicycle Bag.

Bergen Pannier

Bicycle Bag

Carry your things easily in a bag that hangs on your bike.

When I don't need my laptop, I carry my stuff in a bag like the Po Campo Bike Trunk Bag. It is roomy enough to carry an iPad, a paper planner (yes, I'm old fashioned), my clutch, sunglass case, folding bike lock, gloves, etc. yet it is small enough to carry as a purse when I get off the bike.

2. Carry Your Things by Basket

  • A basket is so handy to throw things in like my lunch, jacket or cardigan, extra water bottles and stuff that does not fit nicely in a pannier like groceries, flowers, wine bottles, baguettes, eggs, etc. I prefer baskets that hang from the rear rack of my bicycle while others prefer baskets for the handlebar of the bike.

    During the week, I don't do large grocery hauls because I like to stop at the market often to pick up fresh-picked produce. You'll be surprised at HOW MUCH you can carry on a bicycle with one or two baskets! Because of the amount of weight I tend to carry in my bike basket(s), I prefer the stability of carrying the load on the rear rack of my bike instead of on the handlebar where it could affect the ability to steer more easily.
     
  • The advantage of a basket over a bag is that it is open and you can easily throw things in or take stuff out while you are riding (or at a stop) without needing to unzip your bike bag to put away or retrieve things. That said, I would keep anything valuable (wallet, keys, electronics) inside a more secure bag or pannier. I have never had anyone walk up to me while on my bicycle and take things out of my basket--not even the wine, flowers or bread but better to keep those items secure than have them slip through the basket without you knowing.

One more thing I might take if I anticipate carrying larger things that will not fit in a basket or bag is a bungee cord cargo net. Then I can carry extra atop the front or rear rack of my bicycle.

From day to day, a bag and basket are all I need to carry things on my bicycle. What do you like to use to carry your things?