Most Canadians who’ve lived outside of Southern Ontario and East of the Okanagen would likely attest that Toronto enjoys a relatively mild (and rather sloppy) version of Winter’s cruelty. So for the most part, even the average rider in Toronto soon realizes that they can still get around through the Winter with just abit of extra resolve and preparation. But unless you drink with Bike Couriers, or already have a penchant for riskier Winter sports, where’s the average Cyclists supposed to gain the basic savvy required for Winter riding, without applying theri basic good instincts to a trial and error approach that may very well result in a few hard lessons?
In a well-intentioned bid to encourage Winter cycling, a recent article in the Toronto Star was ostensibly titled “Everything you need to know about winter cycling in the GTA” yet it only presented a rather simplistic collection of generalities about cold weather riding, while offering precious little actual advice to prepare rookie riders for the actual realities of rolling on winter roads. A forgivable puff piece, if not for one glaring piece of genuinely bad advise…
Where Rubber Meets the Road…
It’s not surprising that tires are the single most important factor to safe winter driving and riding, and there are all sorts of techniques and tire treads that you can consider, depending on your riding routes and style. Unfortunately The Star’s article not only took a simplistic approach to both equipment (no real discussion of tire options) and technique (simply advising a rather obvious need to reduce speed), but it also suggested indiscriminately dropping tires pressures by 10 to 20 psi right across the board, but we’ll come back to this measurable advice in a moment…
First of all, the article in question was written based on information provided by Shah Mohamed, a bike educator at the Evergreen Brickworks, so we can only presume that the Staff Reporter at the Star just didn’t have the time/space to properly describe a more thoughtful quote from someone who should really know much better otherwise.
If anybody were concerned about the liabilities of misinformation, the most obvious qualifier would have been to clearly state the enormous difference in tire pressures between road and hybrid tires, and the much lower tire pressures of the very widely ridden mountainbike (MTB) style tires.
Presumably, these particular experts (a “Bike Educator” and professional Journalist) must have been limited (by time/space?) to presenting a grossly-generalised approach to Winter riding. So instead, perhaps we could take some time here to fill some of the gaps ourselves instead.
From Bike Mechanics to Veteran Couriers, there are lots of working experts all around us here in Toronto that are only too happy to share some of their knowledge, between repair jobs or express deliveries, and ThumbShift.com is pleased to tap into that expertise on your behalf!
Let’s start by taking the enormously important subject of tires out for a spin to try and avoid some of the info gaps that we saw in the Star’s general interest article…Not just for safety’s sake, but also to see what kind of added thrills and pleasures we can derive from Winter riding as well with some proper wheels underneath us.
Let’s begin with the very real reasons why tire selection and pressure is of critical importance to winter riding, and why dropping 20 PSI’s out of your MTB tires is likely the last thing you’d want to do!
While we’re at it…Does anybody want to consider the ongoing debate of skinny tires vs. fat knobby tires for getting through the snow?
How about also considering some reasons why most ski goggles are generally bad for bicycling, and why ‘riding shields’ would have been a much better recommendation to provide the average rider Mr. Mohamed?
Otherwise, if today is one of those crisp and dry days that Torontonians get to enjoy during our relatively mild Winters, why not just dress-up for the conditions, and go take your bike for a spin on the snow-free roads, and come back later for a more leisurely read…
….ThumbShift.com will still be here when you get back!