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Riding a bike in the snow can be challenging. Especially in a city when it comes unexpectedly.

Riding a bike in the snow

Snow storm Darcy hits Amsterdam

While a snowfall is not altogether rare in the Netherlands, a bonafide blizzard is. This recent pounding of flurries by snow storm Darcy is the first official snow storm in ten years, resulting in the government declaring a code red severe weather warning. In Canada, we just call it winter.

Snow in a city is a different beast

I’ve dealt with winter riding in Toronto, with enough wipeouts to learn what can happen. Biking in snow in the city is a whole different beast. Riding in freshly fallen snow on a well-equipped bike might be fine along a country side. But there are different things to deal with in a city.

The urban landscape can change quickly. Ploughs, salt trucks, snow banks and traffic inching forward can make a mess of things. As a result, the streets can look completely different on the same day. The situation could get so bad the army may need to come in to clear the streets.

Here are some tips to help you conquer snow squalls and crusty streets.

Snowstorm hits Amsterdam

Take your time and go easy

Arriving at your destination is more important than being on time. People are forgiving if you’re late because of snow unless you have a bail hearing to go to.

Ride for open pavement

Cars can be helpful in carving out a path. Ride in the grooves or wherever you can when possible. Be mindful to observe the road ahead because any clear surface that has a sheen will likely be slippery even if it looks dry.

Bikes on snow covered streets

It’s all in the tires

Buying special winter tires may be a bit of an overkill for cities in the Netherlands. But if it snows a lot where you live, winter tires can make all the difference. Hardcore riders will opt for spiked versions that can look like something from Mad Max, but they provide the best grip, especially on icy roads.
If you don’t want to invest in winter tires, letting some air out of your tires will give you a bit more traction on a slippery road.

Manage your balance

Sit up straight, relax your body and stick your butt out. Don’t micro-manage with your steering but focus on riding with your hips. This will allow you to quickly compensate if you begin to lose your balance.

Lowering the saddle a touch will give you a lower centre of gravity. If you can put your feet flat on the ground, it will greatly help if you need to stagger a bit and prevent you from falling over.

By combining two tips, you may be surprised how much of a difference it will make in your ride through snow.

Bike going down a snowy street

Wash your bike

Arguably the most important tip is to wash your ride. Road salt is the ultimate bike killer. When there is slush caked onto your frame and components, iron oxide forms and speeds up the rusting process. I’ve witnessed first hand what salt can do to a bike after just one week. The consequences of not washing the salt away can be catastrophic.

Happy riding and stay safe.

Disclosure: This article may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs, or otherwise.

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