Emily is an outdoorsy sort at heart who was raised in the north of England, where, unlike London, they’ve actually heard of a great outdoors! Nowadays she spends too much time in front of a computer doing this ‘earning a living’ thing. When she gets time she likes to hit the trails and escape the Internet… just for a while.
We’re on the brink of my (as an English girl through and through) favourite season: Winter!
It’s time then to consider that wonderful quarter-yearly thing, the winter commute. As primarily a mountain biker (when I don’t have to work, of course!), I have to admit that the challenge of riding in the cold on trails far exceeds any enjoyment I get out of the daily commute on the city streets.
The difference comes in that the idea of staying safe when you’re out and about — slipping over on a street in the middle of traffic is pretty much the end, and you have to adhere to safety and speed regulations anyway. Thus control is the main thing you look for when out on the streets. However it’s much more interesting to head out over the tops with a nice covering of snow or even a bit of ice. (Plus at the end of the day, if you do fall off you’re much less likely to be moved along by a truck before you can recover!)
But, of course, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you do want to be careful (and maybe watch 127 Hours to see why — imagine that in the cold!)
What I must advise for both environments is that you make sure you have appropriate bike parts, specifically tyres. When out on the trails in the winter I use normal mountain biking tyres but reduce the pressure, as this is a first-rate tactic to being safe enough to actually enjoy the cold surfaces that trails offer.
The other primary advantage of cycling on trails in the winter is that provided you can scope out an area that’s not covered in a sheet of ice, you can really get some speed up and get the full thrill out of the cold air battering you. This doesn’t happen in traffic-laden residential areas or just about anywhere in an urban environment, which for a real outdoors biker is quite upsetting!