With a little help from some experienced friends here an easy 5 step guide to deal with the icy winter commute. Feel free to share!
1. The winter bike – ideas for minor adjustments and please do the maintenance, lazy!
It is clearly worth to drive with dubbed tires in winter even though you have to add some extra watts. A low tire pressure is also good for grip. Try to lower the saddle 1 cm to enhance further control. To feel safe also make you more relaxed.
Clean off dirt and salt from the bike as often as you can and lubricate well. Can the cycle be warm, it is preferable, otherwise you will easily encounter frozen switches after washing.
2. Body – be relaxed and keep your weight low and balanced
In particular, the upper body should be as relaxed as possible when it’s slippery. Straight rigid arms is not good when one must fend off, or when grip is lost.
Try not to put too much of your weight over the front wheel. If you lose the grip, you fall easily with a fairly sharp crash. Instead try to be seated deep in the saddle and bring down the weight to the crank and pedals. It makes the bike more stable. You can even exaggerate and lift the front wheel a little when needed.
3. Driving style – keep the momentum
Driving in the forsts one lesson is, that it is often easier to force the barrier with some speed. The same applies even when it’s slippery. A little more speed on the bike gives it a stronger force in the “right” direction, and forces that would pull the wheels sideways will not have the same impact.
Braking and acceleration should be avoided as much as possible. Remember that it is not the high speed that really hurts. It’s when the bike suddenly falls over very quickly and in an unpleasant way, that it hurts.
4. Surface and terrain – follow the track
Let the bike follow the frozen traces or irregularities found in the roadway. If you force it into an “unnatural” way diagonally across the frozen track, it is easy to slip. It is not dangerous if the bike goes a little to the sides by itself even though the challenging condition can make it uncomfortable.
5. If a hit is inevitable – stay in control (if possible)
To take the hit with the shoulder is better than taking it with the hand or elbow. A wishbone heal faster and requires less rehabilitation than a crushed or broken wrist elbow.
When you feel that this will end up with a crash, you are actually still in a position with quite some opportunities to make the best of it (at least if you are disposed with great reflexes). In some situations you will still be able to affect the direction to fall. It’s more comfortable to land in a snowdrift than to plant your body in the front of a parked car. Remember to wear a helmet!
Now, enjoy your icy healthy winter commute and stay safe!