Bicycle Ambassador Program
The first day of winter isn’t officially until Dec. 22. But if you’re like me, visions of winter are easily conjured.
I envision horizontal blizzards, bone-chilling cold and weather bleak enough to send me packing south. Pueblo maybe?
In reality, winter in Northern Colorado generally isn’t all that different from our typical forecast: sunny and blues skies. The major difference is the thermometer dips, but we still often see 60-degree days in January and February.
With our typically mild winter weather, riding a bike for transportation remains a viable and even enjoyable option in Northern Colorado. What may be surprising to some is even when the snow flies and the temperature drops, you can still pedal your way around town and be comfortable.
Clothing is key. Just follow these general guidelines.
Aim for three layers on top. First, use a synthetic (e.g., polyester) or wool base next to your skin. Avoid cotton, as it holds in sweat and makes you feel cold and clammy. Second, add an insulation layer such as fleece, down or a synthetic “puffy.” Third, cover with a shell that is water resistant or waterproof as needed. Water-resistant materials “breathe” better and won’t cause you to sweat as much. But when the weather is super wet, the waterproof layer can really help. Shed layers or vent as needed.
Two layers work for most situations on the bottom. First, use a synthetic or wool base. Second, add your jeans or slacks to arrive ready for action. Third is an optional water-resistant or waterproof layer if it’s wet. This will help protect and keep your clothes dry.
Warm gloves are important for happy hands. I also advise covering your cheeks, mouth and nose for the final touch.
What about the fancy winter bike you ask?
Truthfully, your current bike will work just fine on most days. A fender is helpful in wet conditions, and wider tires will provide some additional traction in the snow. But these additions aren’t necessary the majority of the time.
Do you want more tips? From now through February, FC Bikes will host several free classes and special events to help you keep riding during winter. Try our Cycling in Winter or Everyday Cycling classes. We’ll also give you free bike lights at Light Up the Night events to keep you riding bright during the shorter daylight season.
Need an incentive to ride this winter? Join us for free breakfast at any of the 28 stations around town on Winter Bike to Work Day 7-9:30 a.m. Dec. 9.
New this year is we will ride bikes to view the best holiday lights in Old Town followed by holiday treats at our Holiday Lights by Bike event, Dec. 19.
We’re also keeping winter riding fun with our Bike Winter Photo contest. Submit a photo of your first winter ride by Jan. 5 to info@BicycleAmbassadorProgram.org for your chance to win awesome prizes. See the winning photos on display and celebrate year-round riding at the Bike Winter Celebration on Feb. 5.
Find times and dates for classes, information about events and our Bike Winter Photo Contest at www.fcgov.com/bikewinter.
Nick Heimann, MPH is a member of BPEC, a League Cycling Instructor, and employed by FC Bikes at the city of Fort Collins.