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Year-round cycling becoming more popular amongst riders



(Illustration: Will MacLachlan)

Across the globe, people can be found cycling through the cold winter months.

Organizers of International Winter Bike to Work Day have been encouraging riders to commit to cycling to work (or school, or play, or errands) on a day in February since 2013.

In our home province, the Halifax Cycling Coalition has been organizing Winter Bike Week for several years to celebrate winter cycling. Even closer to home, Sweet Rides Cycling in Mahone Bay organizes weekly fat bike rides all winter long. 

Cycling in the winter can be invigorating, refreshing, and pleasurable. Whether you need an affordable way to get from point A to B, or you’re looking to boost your mental health, cycling in the winter can be a wonderful experience. 

You might be thinking this winter cycling sounds a little suspect, and a lot colder than you would prefer. Here are some tips to help you enjoy all the benefits of winter cycling.

  • Wear warm layers and invest in warm, waterproof gear for your extremities (good quality boots and gloves are a must). Wear a hat under your helmet. You can also get pougies, large mittens that fit over your handlebars and break the wind. 
  • Consider switching to studded winter bike tires. These aren’t strictly necessary in Nova Scotia. Most of the time our roads are cleared to the bare pavement, but studded tires add a level of security if you find yourself riding over ice and snow. 
  • Wipe down your bike frame and chain often. Road salt and dirt can degrade your bike. Regular cleaning will help keep your bike components in good shape for longer. 
  • Adjust your riding to slow down and apply your brakes early when stopping. You may need more stopping distance if it’s slippery. Pedal smoothly over snow or ice and make graceful turns rather than sharp movements. 
  • The Motor Vehicle Act (being updated and renamed the Traffic Safety Act) requires people cycling to have a front white light and a rear reflector. Though not legally required, a red back light is highly recommended so you will be seen at night. Bright, high quality lights can be costly, but important for your safety. You may also consider wearing clothing that has reflective materials.
  • If you are cycling on the South Shore, remember that many of our secondary highways do not have street lights so you may need an extra bright front light to light up your path at night.

Most importantly, have fun! Try out winter cycling and see how it feels. 

You can join fellow riders to test out winter cycling at the upcoming Light Cycle ride.

Meet at 5:30pm on December 9th at the parking lot by the public washroom in Mahone Bay.

The event is suitable for people of all ages and people with disabilities.

Attendees will light up their bikes and themselves as much as possible and cycle around Mahone Bay, ending at Saltbox Brewing for an after party. There will be prizes for the brightest, best decorated bike.

Follow Meghan Doucette on her adventures online at meginthewild.com.


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