Spring riding, bad weather, and individual limits

I had my first outdoor rides of the year on my good road bike in Ontario this week.

The qualifications, “good road bike” and “Ontario,” matter.

In February I spent a week with my good bike in Arizona and in March I was at training camp in South Carolina.

I’m also back bike commuting on my cyclocrosss bike.

Sunday we were out on our road bikes in cold and the wind. Four degrees Celsius and sunny I can live with but the wind was less pleasant. We rode out into a 30 km headwind, with gusts up to 50 km. Still it was a good ride, and when combined with coffee after and then the hot tub, made for a terrific Sunday afternoon. When it started snowing Sunday night I was especially happy that I’d gotten out.

My usual Thursday ride didn’t start this week as planned. I got a note that read, “Stay in touch. I’m not riding if it’s raining. Three degrees is okay but three degrees and raining isn’t.” That was our ride leader’s limit. Cold, yes, rain, yes, but not the combo. I agree.

Tracy also chimed in about getting back on the bike: “Yes, if it’s above ten and otherwise not. Also, no rain.”

She’s written before defending being a fair weather cyclist.

I’ve been thinking about limits and where we set them.

I would say I don’t ride in the snow ever because I have done. See the above picture! It’s proof. My friend Dave and I rode 60 km in minus 5, with snow. But I did take my cyclocross bike, not my good road bike. Actually I’ve been thinking about getting a fat bike for serious winter riding. I’d like to be the sort of person who rides in all weather and just chooses her bike accordingly.


This weekend it was raining and snowing and below zero, and two friends were off riding 200 km. It was the first brevet of the Ontario Randonneurs season, the tour d’Essex. They won the badass award.


How about you? What are your limits for cycling? Are you an all weather or fair weather cyclist?

12 thoughts on “Spring riding, bad weather, and individual limits

  1. I’m usually an all-weather cyclist for commuting (it’s made easier by the fact that I have a short commute). I only abandon my bike on days with heavy snow. Being pregnant through this winter, I haven’t rode my bicycle since late November. That was my limit: no riding on icy roads while pregnant. Now I am hoping every day I can take my bike out and have a few rides before my baby arrives. But the Quebec City winter has been harsh… And the spring isn’t really happening.

  2. Good on you for riding in cold,wind, rain, snow– you are definitely badass! You’re also reminding me how good it feels to do a badass ride. Once I was going to do a cross ride (a regularly scheduled group ride), but it was threatening raining and everyone bailed. But I had my bike and gear, so I started out in the dark and rain. And it just POURED. I didn’t do the whole ride by myself, but for the hour I was out there, it felt great and surreal and fun. Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration. And badass rides can also mean riding to the store in the dark, the rain, the cold, the traffic, too!

  3. Wow! That snow-bike makes my feet itch to get out of the house (and it’s currently a sleepy 11pm in my HCMC room so said itch is not a logical one). I ride to and from work everyday here and sometimes I wonder if I might just flop over I am so hot. So here is my question cold weather and icy wind does indeed sound unpleasant, but what do you do when the sun shines just tooooooooo much and the air doesn’t move?

  4. If I had a better bike to ride I’d probably cycle year round no matter what. I mean, I did run outside all winter long as long as the temp was 33F or above….maybe that is “fair weather”? Enjoy the spring!

  5. for commuting, I ride all year round (approx.10 miles round trip, so not too bad). But I don’t like going out on my skinny, slick(ish) tires in bad weather.

  6. I ride hybrid bikes and hence, my tires are a bit wider. Normally I do cycle year round except if I have choice from home before starting off, I don’t cycle when:

    *it’s pouring rain and it’s cold. I will cycle in rain in the middle of a ride or returning home. Starting off in cold fall/winter rain in winter is unpleasant.
    *ice and snow on pavement/roads. I try to ensure the paths I use are clear/dry and the roads I use aren’t slick with icy slush on the side. In Calgary this is possible because prairie air is a lot drier and hence, less days of slushy pavements in winter.
    *lightning. I absolutely have no interest starting off a ride when it’s lightning and thundering. I will wait for the storm to pass.

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