I want to ride my ice-cycle

Winter cycling provides challenges and surprise advantages

David Geisel of Natural Cycle braves the elements of a cold Winnipeg winter. Mark Reimer

Most Winnipeggers love their automobiles while traveling in the harsh confines of Winterpeg, especially when it’s -30 C.

But as automobiles have contributed to the devastating effects on our environment and our health, many people are taking up the challenge of winter cycling.

David Geisel, a employee at Natural Cycle, a business which specializes in custom made bicycles and bicycle repairs, said one challenge is salt and sand from the roads, which can really wear down your bike.

“The winter salt is worse for the bike than anything else. It tends to especially run off of water. It’s like wet salt water stuck to your bike, it just eats away at metal,” said Geisel.

For winter riding, Geisel recommends a single speed bicycle because it will have narrower tires than a mountain bike and can therefore get right down to the cement.

“A narrow tire allows you to do that. Just cuts through everything and gets down to the cement,” he said.

Winter cycling not only provides a challenge in terms of what type of bicycle to ride, but also what type of clothing to wear.

Cameron McLaren from Mountain Equipment Co-op recommends a few things before heading out on that brisk winter cycle.

McLaren prefers getting a pair of goggles that wont fog up so they can protect your eyes in the elements. He also suggests layering with synthetic wool clothing because it insulates well against the cold.

“Use mostly synthetic wool, things that wick and give you some insulation. I tend to wear a wicking base layer and just a wind proof jacket on the outside. And that’s for the upper part, usually good enough for -30 or -40 Celsius” said McLaren.

As for whether the winter is a more dangerous time to ride a bicycle, Geisel’s answer may surprise most Winnipeggers.

“In general, winter cycling is a lot safer I think as far as traffic goes. You know it’s slippery, you could fall down. I’ve fallen down many times in the winter and not hurt myself. But I’ve crashed a few times in the summer and broke a bone every time,” said Geisel.

Published in Volume 63, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 22, 2009)

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