Sunday, 1 December 2013

The weather outside isn't that frightful

Chris and I last January enjoying a cool but sunny ride,
complete with woolly mitts
As I view more and more photos on social media, it is becoming increasingly clear that, for many parts of Canada, winter has definitely arrived. While Vancouver may not be snowy, there is certainly a chill in the air, especially on the few beautifully clear days we get. That hasn't stopped the Velo Family from getting on our bikes, though, and nor should it. Just because it's cold doesn't mean our bikes should go into storage, leaving us to rely on transit to get around. When thinking about how to write about winter riding, I was at a loss. I could go on some long, sarcastic diatribe about what extra gear you need, as in none, but my heart just isn't in it. I know I'm "preaching to the choir", to many people just like me, who ride all year long regardless of temperature. So why bother?

Truth is, some people out there who do ride all spring, summer and fall, tend to hibernate from riding in the winter. But instead of making a guide to winter riding, I thought I'd write about what it is I enjoy about riding in the winter. Spring has all the blooming flowers, and the wonderful fragrant air they provide, summer give us gorgeous sunny days and a warm breeze in our hair, and fall has all the beautiful colours to enjoy. So what does winter have to offer? For me, I love feeling the cool air on my face as it flushes. I feel so cozy while I ride with my scarf and mitts on, and the smell of wood fires in the air has such a feeling of home.

One thing I've certainly discovered riding in the winter months is there is quiet that falls throughout the city, especially on the traffic calmed streets and the seawall. With the night getting darker sooner, this gives a great opportunity for reflective solo rides, or rides home with my husband. We've spent many a later evening riding along the traffic calmed bikeways feeling like we're the only people for miles, and enjoyed the peaceful time sharing stories and the intimacy of a quiet moment together. I guess the irony would be that encouraging people to join us and ride their bikes in the winter months would make the streets less quiet, but bicycle traffic isn't that noisy, so it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Winter riding really is no different that riding a bike in any other months. It doesn't require anything extra other than a little more caution on slick roads and some extra layers. When I ride I wrap up in the same winter clothing I do when I go for a walk. If you ride a bike the rest of the year, there nothing to be afraid of in the winter. I know I have the luxury of living in a temperate climate, but I would happily take riding in the falling snow over a cold, rainy downpour, and would likely ride even more! So don't put your bike away this winter. Keep those wheels turning and enjoy a cool and cozy ride. The added bonus of a winter ride, you have an excellent excuse to finish off your ride with a stop for a hot chocolate, maybe even with marshmallows!

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