Sunday, 5 December 2010

Tips for riding in snowy icy conditions

The goods news is that things are now back to normal with the main bulk of the recent snow melted and although all roads and cycle tracks in and around Brighton & Hove are usable for bicycles, forecasts are warning of more icy conditions to come.

Some of my tips for cycling in snowy/icy conditions:
  1. Adjust your bike to the conditions - for example, if you're riding in really snowy conditions, I like to lower my seat down (which I wouldn't normally do) to allow myself the luxury of being able to put both feet down in the event I have to stop suddenly, or go into a skid.
  2. I also like to deflate my tyres to improve traction.
  3. Keep speeds low as braking in snow and ice can be lethal. 
  4. Cycle in a lower - more easier gear to ride in
  5. If you find yourself going into a skid, keep pedalling slowly, and if possible put your feet down to prevent falling over.
  6. Keep unnecessary weight off the handlebars. Don't use your basket and or/hang objects from the handlebars which might affect your balance and steering.
  7. Stay well clear of the kerbs and gutter where there's all sorts of hidden hazards such as frozen manhole covers, latent debris and untreated surfaces.
  8. Be prepared with lots of warm clothing. My view is that the more you wear the warmer you'll be. Far better to find yourself overheating and removing layers than finding yourself feezing cold where you cannot warm up.
  9. Wear sensible footwear - okay, you wouldn't normally cycle in boots, but remember snow melts into a sludgy, wet mess which sprays up on your feet as you ride. You're also more prone to getting sprayed by passing motorists - so be prepared.
  10. Keep your lights on front and rear and regularly clean the snow and spray from the lenses.
  11. Enjoy yourself - riding in cold, icy conditions can be a lot of fun. You're more likely to enjoy yourself if you relax as you ride as opposed to tensing up.
  12. If conditions become too bad, there's nothing wrong with walking with your bike until you reach better conditions.
  13. Black ice is lethal - you won't see it until it's too late but you could use your local knowledge to avoid the danger spots. For example, remember the parts of your previous journeys where the roads are always wet? These are the places that will now be home to black ice.
  14. If you can, take your bike out into a deserted park or cycle track, lower your saddle and get some practice at very low speeds. See how the bike reacts in these conditions and get used to riding before venturing out on the main roads.

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