The sharp sound of scraping ice from windshields, the spine twisting toss of heavy snow to free your trapped vehicle, the smear of salt and sanded snow spray as your wipers drag and push, these joys of winter are unknown to the winter cyclist.
With frosty plumes of warm breath punctuating their progress, these most hardy of souls pedal year round, thumbing their cold noses at arctic temperatures and fluctuating gas prices.
A psychology professor at McMaster University, Reuven Dukas skirts his 2005 Corolla in the driveway as he settles onto his mountain bike for the 5 kilometer ride to work from his Dundas home. Matters not if the winds howl and the snow swirls.
“If it's not ski-able, it's bike-able,” is his motto. He puts on fresh “aggressive, off-road” tires in December to traction his way through the cold.
“Cycling enables me to be outside everyday, which I like, and I get my daily exercise”, says Dukas. So important is his daily ride, that he researched bike routes to his work when looking for a home.
Sure, it's not for everyone, pedaling through snow drifts and over black ice. Yet despite the perception of snow-bound Canadian winters, there are many days when roads are dry and clear, which leaves riding in winter largely a matter of bracing for the cold.
Daunting double digit drops below zero may strike fear, but novice riders may find themselves overdressing for the cold. Advances in gear technology mean keeping warm and dry on a bike is easier, and sleeker, than ever if you are willing to invest. And why not? A good waterproof, breathable, reflective cycling jacket and pants can keep the elements out, all for a little more than a year's worth of oil changes for your car. Throw in some extra protection with a thin fleece cycling balaclava to fit under your helmet, special “lobster claw cycling mitts, and maybe even some waterproof shoe covers to keep your toes dry, and you are practically climate controlled.