The 63-year-old retired federal worker, who is chairman of the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, explains what it's like to get around by bike in the winter.
How do you stay warm?
So there are a couple of challenges. Around here where I live in Fairfax, the commutes are generally a little bit longer than they are in the city, so we need to be comfortable while riding from the beginning all the way through to a potentially hour- or hourlong-plus-longer commute. The way we do that is usually by dressing in layers ... But the challenge then becomes overheating, because you generate a lot of energy, a lot of calories get burned. So, after about a 15-minute warm-up period, we tend to overheat. Then we need to be able to hopefully unzip a few layers so we can regulate the temperature. The key is, if I'm comfortable when I start, I'm probably going to be too warm.
And the rest of the body?
The real challenge in cold weather is the extremities. My hands, my feet and my face ... For my hands, I've got probably 10 pairs of gloves, because depending on the conditions, I really need to have the right gear.
So the other big challenge must be light. There's not a whole lot of daylight now.
There's two kinds of lighting. One is lighting so people can see you. In the District and in some of the more urban areas out here, that usually works OK because there's enough ambient light. You just want to make sure motorists can see you. But where I travel on the W&OD Trail after dark, it's dark. And there are potential obstacles out there: deer, other animals or other riders who aren't lit who I need to be able to see.
Would you rather bike on a cold winter day or a hot July one?
To me, it doesn't really make much difference ... In general, most people would prefer to ride in a cold winter day rather than a hot summer day because you can regulate your temperature much better. - Kytja Weir