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VCCB eNews, Vol 12, #3 - What? Cycle In The Winter? YES, You Can.


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In this Edition

-  Editorial: What? Cycle in the Winter? Yes, you can!

- WOW Weekend Update, Shelley Johnson

- Loose Chain Links

-  Bike Buy and Sell

-  About That Funny


“Yes, we can [bicycle in the snow].”
— with apologies to Barack Obama




When I was a child, it was an annual rite of Spring to get the bicycle out of the garage or basement and take it for a ride. I usually did this at March Break, and I recall just as many first rides in the snow and cold as in warm sun and fresh puddles. In Canada, most people still think of the bicycle as a vehicle for the Spring and Summer seasons only. At the Winter Cycling Congress last February, many presenters showed evidence of longstanding year-round cycling traditions in other parts of the world, mainly northern Europe. 


If you want to try cycling in the winter, (Velo Cape Breton does have that 52 Week Bike Challenge that starts every January 1st, if you need a support group!), there are a few things you should know. My mother used to say, “Always be prepared!” and though I think she was referring to having tissues in your purse and extra socks in your luggage, I’ve applied this advice to a wide range of circumstances.


Prepare yourself for winter cycling by being properly dressed: start with warm layers top and bottom and add a waterproof-breathable outer layer. This is an excellent investment since we are just as likely to get a drenching ice-cold rain as snow in our climate. Your helmet is de rigueur, with a warm liner underneath and/or a water/windproof cover. Proper winter cycling gloves or mitts are also a good investment, since you will need fully functioning fingers to work your brakes and gears, essential for your safety. Some people, especially those in very cold regions, wear ski goggles while cycling. A pair of safety glasses is probably not a bad idea, as I’ve been stopped on one occasion when an object flew off the tire and into my eye. This is much more likely in wet and slushy Winter conditions than on dry Summer roads. Your comfort and enjoyment of Winter cycling will be much greater if you have warm, dry feet. Again, waterproof-breathable footwear works best (make sure it’s flexible enough to make pedalling easy), and make sure your socks are warm – wool stays warm even when it’s wet – and that the length covers your leg above your boot top into your leggings or whatever pants you are wearing. In really cold weather, I have wool longjohns with wool socks pulled well up over my shins, and my weather-resistant cycling commuter pants go over it all.


Prepare your bicycle for Winter cycling by making sure the basics are tuned up: shifters and derailleurs, chain, tires, and brakes. You can keep a slightly lower tire pressure for the Winter, as the softer tire has a better grip in slippery conditions. Studded tires are also available for all styles of bicycles, and really do work to increase traction. Some riders like to use a heavier chain lubricant or wax lubricant for Winter, but probably the most important thing to do to keep your chain working right and to prolong its life is to clean it regularly. Make sure it is dry after use, and reapply lubricant as required . Dirt and lubricant can create what amounts to a grinding paste and wear down your sprockets and chain fast.


Essentially, Winter cycling is just the same as Summer cycling, but with more clothes and more chain cleaning. As usual, make sure you are highly visible by wearing bright clothing and having lights or reflectors fore and aft. This Winter, don’t let your bicycle languish in storage, longing for Spring. Get it out, get prepared, and get ready for the thrill of making tire tracks in fresh snow. 


The Editor’s bicycle, April 1st, 2014. Note front light, and spare front light, and studded tires.


The Editor getting ready to set off on a bike ride around Winnipeg at the 2014 International Winter Cycling Congress. 










Registration is over but just in case the schedule did not work for you, please email me and I will try to organize one in the spring.






Not long johns, but real cycling clothes:


Cycling infrastructure benefits more than just cyclists:


Canadian Cycling Best Bike Shops Contest results:





BIKE BUY AND SELL – empty this week!






Andy an 80-year-old Scotsman went to the doctor for a check-up...


The doctor was amazed at what good shape he was in and asked: 'How do you stay in such great physical condition?' 

'I am Scottish and I am a cyclist,' said Andy: 'and that is why I am in such good shape. I am up well before daylight and out cycling up and down the road. I have a wee glass of whisky, and that's it.' 

'Well,' said the doctor, 'I am sure that helps, but there has to be more to it. How old was your Dad when he died?' 

'Who said my Dad died?'

The doctor was amazed. 'You mean you are 84 years old and your Dad is still alive; how old is he?' He is 105 years old,' said old Andy. 'In fact he cycled wi' me this mornin', and then we went to the topless beach for a walk and had anither wee dram and that is why he is still alive. He is a Scot and he is a cyclist, too.' 

'Well,' the doctor said, 'that is great, but I am sure there is more to it than that. How about your Dad's Dad? How old was he when he died?' 

'Who said my Granddad is dead?' 

Stunned, the doctor asked, 'You mean you are 84 years old and your grandfather is still living! Incredible, how old is he?' 

'He is 127 years old,' said the old Scottish cyclist. 

The doctor was getting frustrated at this point: 'So, I guess he went cycling with you this morning too?' 

'No. Granddad could na’e go this mornin' because he is getting married today' 

At this point the doctor was close to losing it. 'Getting married!! Why would a 127 year-old bloke want to get married?' 

'Who said he wanted to?'












Regular articles, including Loose Chain Links:

Word document or compatible, 12 pt Times New Roman. Please have submissions for the current edition submitted by the Monday prior.


Ads for Bike Buy & Sell: Word document or compatible, 12 pt, Times New Roman, submitted by the Monday prior. Ads will run for 3 weeks. Please inform the editor if the item is sold before that term is up. If the item doesn’t sell, you may re-submit your ad.  


Photos: high resolution (photos taken with a phone are usually too low, but there may be exceptions); please name all the people in the photo, and give the event, date, and location.







Shelley Porter,  

Editor, Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter

VCB Cycling Ambassador.

November 20th, 2014


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