Winter Cycling Survival Tips

People look at me funny when I tell them I’ve been bike commuting in Seattle year-round since 2008.

Their imaginary horrors include darkness, snow, ice, fog, rain, bad drivers, wind, etc., etc. I’m here to tell you, the reality is just as bad as you imagine.

To help me survive the winters (which often last well into May), I’ve devised a 5-point rating system, which I use both as a distraction while I ride (boredom is another hazard), as well as a way to quantify how much better it is than it certainly could be. A way to fool myself into believing, “I’m so lucky! I’m wet, shivering and dodging traffic, but it could be way worse than this.”

The scale is pretty simple. Score 1 point for each of the main challenges. Mine are:

  1. Darkness
  2. Fog
  3. Snow/Ice
  4. Wind
  5. Rain

You score only half a point if, for example, you have wind in your face for just half the ride. Which is usually the case, though sometimes it seems to magically shift against you halfway through. Snow and ice are combined into one category since they usually arrive together (and what the hell are you complaining about, it’s ski season!)

Rain is so prevalent, it requires a special score-keeping system. Basically, you can get a full point only if your socks are soaked inside your shoes and making that squishy sound before you hit the half-way point in your ride.

As an example, my ride on Sunday was pretty nice. 15 MPH wind in my face for about forty-five minutes, followed by a soaking downpour at mile 20 of 25. A total of one point, on a 5-point scale – a veritable walk in the park!

On the plus side, I got a nice workout, dodged (well, postponed) the breakfast dishes, and felt great for the rest of the day. (Or was it the Seahawks?!)

Why do it? Well, the endorphin high is probably the most honest answer. The joy of being outdoors. The challenge of getting through it. The feeling of accomplishment. And eating whatever the hell I please when I get home – that’s certainly an undeniable benefit!

If you’re uncertain of your motivation, read my next post for a proven strategy to help you reach your own fitness goals.

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6 thoughts on “Winter Cycling Survival Tips

  1. bribikes

    Love your scoring system, I am getting 2-3 pretty much every commute I have right now. Highest has been 4. Have you ever gotten a five? That would be pretty impressive.

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      1. bribikes

        Yeah, always exciting when your water bottle is frozen, the other day I was out biking, went to get a drink but then realized I was lugging a bottle of ice.

        Thanks for stopping by my blog!

        Like

  2. somemaid

    I’m definitely using your system from now on. Although I’ll probably never make the full 5 as it rarely snows in my part of the world. I have ridden in a couple of gales though. Do I get extra points from being blown backwards while going up hill?

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    1. David Lazar Post author

      The two beautiful things about my system: 1. You define your 5 most heinous challenges. 2. Since 5 gives you an excuse not to ride, best to make those few and far between 🙂 That said, any wind event that pushes you over or causes you to reverse direction is noteworthy and may require a scorekeeping exception or revision!

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  3. Pingback: Get Motivated: Pay Yourself | The Point

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