Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise and a green way to get to and from work. While Mother Nature doesn’t always agree with our plans to hit the streets or trails, cycling can still be a year-round activity if you plan ahead, even in Colorado. Here in the mountains the weather can change quickly, and can go from dehydrating hot to hypothermic cold in a matter of moments. Here are some tips to help you stay dry, warm, and safe when riding on days where many others would opt for a car:
In the Rain
Lighten up—it’ll be much harder for anyone to see you when you’re cycling in the rain, so wearing something reflective will help you stand out against the background. You can add white lights or Glashing red lights to your bicycle or your clothing, or attach reGlectors to your helmet (which you should always wear!).
Avoid puddles—what appears to be a small puddle could have rusty nails, glass, rocks, or more hidden under the water. It’s usually safest to just avoid them entirely.
Dress for the weather—a common mistake is to wear many layers to prevent rain from soaking through to your core. Unfortunately what usually happens is the rain will get through anyway, and you’ll be stuck wearing three wet shirts instead of one. You should opt to dress for the temperature outside. If your clothing isn’t waterproof, you can wear a thin poncho over everything. Add a hat with a visor under your bike helmet to keep rain out of your face.
In the Heat
Get acclimated—it’s not reasonable to go on the same 15-mile loop if temperatures have suddenly jumped by 20 degrees. Cycling slowly in the summer will help your body adjust to summer weather. It could take two full weeks to get used to high temperatures.
Pre-hydrate—water consumption is so important when temperatures are high. You should start drinking water an hour or so before you leave. Plan on having at least one 16-oz water bottle per hour of cycling, but if you’re larger or taking a particularly challenging route, you may want to bring even more.
Consider timing—depending on whether you prefer cycling in low temperatures or low humidity, you may want to plan your ride based on the forecast. Temperatures are usually lowest in the morning, particularly before sunrise. Humidity, on the other hand, will be higher in the morning but lower in the afternoon.
In the Snow
Use fenders—nobody likes to be covered in slush! If you’re cycling in wet snow, be sure to attach fenders to your wheels to protect yourself and your neighbors from splattering snow.
Slow down—it’ll take you approximately twice as long to come to a complete stop when cycling in the snow. Be sure to slow down dramatically to ensure you have plenty of time to stop when necessary and avoid any crashes.
Layer—anyone who loves the outdoors knows the importance of layering, Hands and feet are some of the more neglected extremities when it comes to staying warm while cycling in the snow. Consider wearing a thin pair of gloves under a large pair of mittens, or wearing heavy boots instead of thinner sneakers or rain boots.
This article was created 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!