'Tis the season for snow, rain and other inclement weather! With temperatures dropping and clouds heavy with precip, skiers, ice climbers, snowshoers and rain-loving hikers are rejoicing. But the bike commuter…?
Darker days, rapidly changing weather conditions, the challenges of sketchier road conditions and how to dress appropriately can make riding to work not nearly as appealing as the warmer, brighter months of the year. But don't give up!
Recently, two of us at the office had the opportunity to test out our bike commuting system on an unexpectedly very wet, very gray evening commute in Boise. Despite the downpour, with our ACT Trail 20SL and ACT Trail 24 packs our spirits – and computers – were not bogged down. Here are some tips from our recent experience for using your ACT Trail to successfully bike commute in winter weather:
Be Bright, Stay in Sight.
- Make it easier for drivers to see you and use both a white headlight and blinking red taillight.
- Brightly colored clothes are also more likely to be seen than wearing all black, navy or brown.
- Wear a reflective vest or bright jacket. Also, the vibrant colors of the ACT Trail series offer an alternative for visual “brightness.”
- Add reflection to your kit with a reflective strap for your pants legs like the Pants Protector Neo.
Keep cool, stay warm by layering wisely.
- The ride can start chilly as you get warmed up but if your commute includes any sort of incline or distance you are likely to heat up fast.
- Wear a hat, gloves and neck gaiter or scarf as you get started. These small layers can easily be shed and tucked into your pack at a stoplight when you warm up.
- By removing a few small layers and staying at a comfortably temperature will keep you from sweating. Less sweat = less chill after the ride is over and less likely to have to put on sweaty, wet clothes at the end of the day if you change.
- If the morning starts warm, tuck a hat and gloves in your pack in case the temps drop throughout the day.
Rain, rain, go away – unless it means snow in the mountains!
- If not wearing a waterproof jacket while you ride, carry one in your pack in case the sky unexpectedly opens up.
- Keep your precious goods in your pack protected by pulling out the integrated rain cover for your ACT Trail. A happy computer is a dry computer.
Fend off mud.
- While in the warmer, drier months you may be able to go without and not get dirty. But in the wet, slushy and snowy months of winter, fenders are key.
- Easy to put on, fenders keep the muck off your back and out of your face.
- A rack can take the place of a rear fender and can accommodate a system like the Rack Top Pack if you prefer not to wear a pack.
Carry a repair kit.
- The darker mornings and evenings will make it harder to spot glass or other objects that could puncture a tire. Be prepared and stash a repair kit in the lid of your pack.
- If not carrying a pack, use a bike accessory bag like the City Bag or Front Triangle Bag to carry your repair kit and spare tubes.
- When it looks like it really may storm, make a stop at the store for supplies like soup, cocoa, or a box of wine lest a snow-day stuck at home keeps you from getting out and about.
- Your ACT Trail can easily accommodate a few “necessary” supplies!