Winter Cycling: it's not that extreme

Posted on Feb 07, 2019 by Lindsay Somers

I know who you are. You love summer biking. The windchill-less wind in your hair, the sunshine on your face and the carefree cruising.

I’m with you. I love riding my summer bike so much. It’s always my favourite way to get around town. 

But I stop biking when the snow comes. Do I really need to figure out dead-of-winter biking?

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I thought I’d put my winter enthusiasm to the test and see how a leisurely ride around The Forks feels and share with you what is really involved in a winter bike ride. I found out everything you need to know about transforming from a summer rider to a winter rider by chatting with winter biker extraordinaire Susan Ainley .

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LS: First off: fat tire bike vs. regular bike: can I use the my summer bike for biking in winter? 
SA: I bought a fat tire bike for winter biking. I’m pretty sure you can use the same bike and get studded or winter tires, but I just like the ease of having a dedicated bike for the winter and my cruiser bike for the rest of the year.

LS: What did you think would be totally awful/the worst thing about winter biking that’s completely not a big deal? 
SA: I thought that I’d be colder than I actually find it. I have more issues with being too warm than being too cold, generally.

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LS: What do I wear? 
SA: Ha! Remember the blog post that you wrote for The Forks about what to wear for skating? I have always used that as a guide for what I wear for winter biking. Having said that, biking has its own unique cold spots. Buy the warmest gloves that still give you enough mobility for braking and changing gears. Also, I received boot covers for Christmas this year, and they’ve been a game changer for toasty toes. When it’s VERY cold, I do use single-use hand and feet warmers like Hotshots for feet and hands, as well. 

LS: Is it slippery? 
SA: It can be, for sure! Still, I find my fat bike tires are pretty good and grippy. I’ve learned not to break and turn my tire when I know it’s slick under the wheels. Other than that, though, my fat bike is pretty great on the occasional icy patch!

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LS: What are the best bike trails in winter? 
SA: I live downtown, which, in my biased opinion, has the best access to some great trails! My favourites are riding along the ice trails at the Forks, through Stephen Juba Park, along Tache, the trails past Fort Gibralter and my VERY favourite is riding the Red River Mutual Trail!

LS: What are the main differences between summer and winter biking? 
SA: In the summer, I use my bike to get different places using roads and trails. In the winter, I ride trails as a fun way to get outside. It has absolutely changed how I feel about winter! 

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LS: Goggles: yay or nay? 
SA: I don’t…but I’ve been thinking of getting some.

LS: What do you love about winter biking? 
SA: I love being able to get out and spend a couple of hours outside getting a pretty great workout! Winter really is a beautiful season, and there are so many outdoor things to see and do so close to where I live. I was always someone who dreaded the winter months, and now I look forward to biking on the Red River Mutual Trail. It has become my very favourite thing to do of anything in any season!

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Thanks Susan! I think I’m ready to get out there and embrace my winter cycling spirit!

Who’s in to try out a winter bike ride at The Forks this winter? There are a couple of great events coming up that might get you out and about on two wheels!

Try out a fat bike on Saturday and Sunday from 12-4pm  

Check out the pedaling performances on Sunday

Art + Architecture Bike Tour  on Sunday 

Here's a full listing of all the Big Chill bike events happening this weekend.

So summer bike lovers: looking at you! Why not try out a winter ride? You can extend your easy-breezy bike riding lifestyle to year-round!

More of a solo explorer? Try out the new fat tire bike trail! It winds and curves throughout The Forks. You can rent a fat tire bike from White Pine Bicycle Co in the Johnston Terminal for $15/hour or $20/2 hours.

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Please note that all bikes should be on the bike/walking path. Cyclists: please keep off the skating trail! The tires bring in little bits of sand and dirt that get imbedded on the ice, damaging the precious skating path. Gotta keep it smooth for optimal skating conditions!

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