(by guest blogger Samantha Long)
“Winter cycling is growing in popularity and with it, the demand for suitable bikes grows too. Scott Road Bikes originate in Switzerland, the land of snow and steep mountain roads, so the makers know exactly what’s required for winter riding. The right kind of winter bike for you will depend on the character of your roads, the harshness of your winters, and your handling skills, but Scott Road Bikes will have the right equipment for all requirements.
With increasing environmental consciousness and rising fuel prices, winter cycling is a growing trend throughout the world. The top US winter cycling cities, Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota, have seen a 13% rise in winter bike commuting since 2002. Oulu in Finland, the world’s top winter cycling city, has produced research showing that cycling is safer in winter than in summer, with an average 200% rise in accidents from February to June. Although the danger may be less, because of clearer roads and less traffic, winter cycling does carry its own specific risks, and as well as the right bike, you need the right cycling equipment to keep safe. Many people find skinny tyres helpful, or studded tyres for extreme conditions. You must use the brightest front and rear lights you can find, with the widest viewing angles, and have reflective tape on your frames. You need the best quality helmet you can buy, along with eye protection – preferably ski-goggles. Don’t carry anything on your back – always use panniers.
Apart from having the right cycling equipment, the main requirement for safety is to anticipate and avoid hazards. Remember, braking times are longer and things like drain and manhole covers, and road markings, will be slippery. Everyone else’s vision will be reduced as well as yours, so learn to anticipate other drivers’ behaviour.
Last, but most importantly, look after yourself. Wear mittens rather than gloves, use a light knitted cap under your helmet, and wear thick socks under waterproof hiking boots. Remember to keep yourself hydrated, and eat plenty of energy-producing food, to provide adequate fuel. If you’re properly prepared, you may find winter the best time of all to be on the road on your bike.”