When you think of winter bicycling, you probably think of snow tires, thick coats, and ski gloves. The truth is that winter biking is easier, warmer, and more comfortable than you think.

When you think of winter bicycling, you probably think of snow tires, thick coats, and ski gloves. The truth is that winter biking is easier, warmer, and more comfortable than you think.

Depending on the year, there are not many days with snow on the roads. If you bike only when the roads are clear, you’ll still be on your bike most of the winter. (Areas with more snow deal with it efficiently. The year we lived in Chicago, the snowplows were out before the first snowflake hit the ground.)

As the weather gets colder, the challenge is to stay cool enough. It’s easy to overdress. Just this morning, someone called out to me, “A bit nippy for a bike ride, isn’t?” But I was actually sweating.

In my opinion, the main challenge to winter bicycling is convincing yourself that it’s not going to be as cold outside as you think when you are sitting in front of the fireplace with a cat on your lap. (It really isn’t, despite what the cat says.)

Other than that, I’d say the most important thing for winter biking is lights, because of these short and drab days.

The purpose of lights is not so you can see, but so that others can see you.

I recommend at least two sets of lights. A dead battery or a burned out bulb is no big deal if you have redundancy. One evening I was down by two lights—and I was still street legal (and safe) with one white front light and one red rear light.

You can get inexpensive lights at Walmart or the Bike Co-op. Test them regularly. The batteries last a while but it’s easy to forget to turn the lights off. That’s why I love my Reelights, powered by magnets. Their reliability is worth the expense.