Winter Weather Forecasts

Winter cycling is going smoothly now.  Temperatures have been in the teens (Fahrenheit) but I stay warm by wearing my wool coat, boots, mittens, scarf and hat over my work clothes.  I’ve been using chemical warming packs in my mittens and they are pure bliss.

I have Santa along for the ride. I can’t find my snowman from last year.

I have to keep a close eye on the weather forecast, since I do not feel safe riding in fresh falling snow, before plows can do their thing. Unfortunately, there is a winter weather advisory for this evening’s commute: up to 4 inches of snow and reduced visibility. If I ride my bike this morning, I may have to leave it outside at work overnight and take the L train home. In situations like this, I sometimes leave the bike at home and take the L the whole way so I don’t have to worry about it. What would you do?

28 thoughts on “Winter Weather Forecasts

  1. dukiebiddle says:

    If there was a high potential of me having to leave my bike far away from home, I’d take the L. Not that leaving the bike is necessarily the end of the world, but it just sounds easier to deal with knowing that the bike is safely home in the garage.

  2. Sara says:

    That is my plan, Dottie. I rode in this morning and I will probably take the L home. I can leave my bike safely in the basement at work. Actually I’m going to catch the Santa Train tonight so it should be a fun ride!

  3. cycler says:

    Is it possible to take the bike on the L after rush hour?
    Sometimes if I don’t want to ride all the way home, I’ll run an errand near work to put me after rush hour, and take the bike home on the T.

    The worst thing about leaving the bike at work is that you can’t ride it the next morning.

    For me a main concern is if it’s a Friday- I don’t like to leave my bike over the weekend, because if I need to ride it over the weekend, I have to take the train in to pick it up.

  4. michelle says:

    I would take the train both ways.
    Your bike is very nice and there are some desperate people out there.

    I’ve been riding in the snow as well. Thanks for inspiring me to be a winter rider (:

  5. David says:


    Why do you not like to ride in new-falling snow? I don’t find it much different than riding on wet pavement. Even on my normal tires, which are probably the same tires your Betty Foy has.

  6. George says:

    Every winter I am impressed with folks who ride regularly. Winters here in California I don’t ride much even on nice days. Thanks for posting.

    I prefer the Santa over the snowman. He’s a nice touch. Merry Christmas.

  7. red 22 says:

    Great to see you’re using studded tyres. You might also want to wear a cycling helmet. I only seem to come off my bike during winter. Twice my cycling helmet has saved me from serious injury.

    Bonne route!

  8. Scott says:

    I heard it was going to be freezing rain tonight? It’s hard to dress for cold one way, and rain the other. I therefore decided to take a cab to work this morning; and I will take all my christmas presents that have been delivered to my office home in a cab too!

  9. misskaz says:

    I was all dressed in my cycling clothes this morning (I like to do it as soon as I wake up before my brain is able to talk me out of it) but I changed my mind when I saw the forecast for snow changing to freezing rain. I do have the option of leaving my bike at work (we have indoor bike racks) but it didn’t seem worth it.

  10. Amy says:

    I would be nervous about leaving my bicycle outside at night far away from home. If I had the option of a train (in my case, it’s the car) on nasty days, I would definitely do it and save me from worrying about my bike.

  11. Natasha says:

    I just found your blog and I’m very excited. I have a old Schwinn bike that I adore and need to ride more often. I haven’t ridden in winter yet, but I think you’ve convinced me to try it.

    I’d probably just leave my bike at home and take the L, that way I could use it the next day if need be.

  12. Nicole says:

    Red22, Have you not been reading this site long? The helmet is usually in the basket or out of sight. Who poses for a photo with a helmet on?

    Dottie, do as you feel in the morning and don’t regret your decision. It’s only December. Plenty more days to ride. But riding in the falling snow has a pretty magical feel to it, provided there isn’t a viscious headwind and you just can’t see a thing. I did it last Thursday and at first it was so wonderful, I felt like I was in Narnia but then the wind hit and I felt like I was ina horror film! It’s never an easy call is it…

  13. John says:

    There will be many more days to ride. I left mine home today because of the snow. It’s been snowing all day and the bottom layer is mostly ice. There is also no room for cars and bikes to share the road safely under these conditions.

    I’ll be riding again soon enough, and so will you.

  14. JTuttle says:

    I wouldn’t leave my bike outside, for sure. I’d take the train. Like everyone’s said, you can always bike another day. P.S. I’ve been using the foot warmers (like the hand warmers) in my boots, and they’ve helped keep my feet comfy on my longer bike rides.

  15. Which brand of chemical warmers are you using? I’m interested in trying them. Do you place them below your hand (under your palm) or above? Do you use a two pair per day or does the first pair you use in the morning keep producing heat for your ride home?

    • Dottie says:

      The brand is Grabber. I place them under my fingers between my glove and my mitten. One pair is enough for the morning and evening commutes. I keep them in a zip lock bag during the day, which slows the warming process.

    • JTuttle says:

      I got them at Uncle Dan’s on Southport in Chicago, but the brand is “Hot hands-2” and “Foot Warm Up” by Heatmax and it says that it’s “natural” heat, whatever that means. I put them straight in my boot,but they do get hotter the longer they are in there,and so when I arrive where I’m going, I have to take them out and put them in my purse. They are good for 6 hours,(the hands for 10) so I usually can use them for the return trip as well.

  16. Joseph E says:

    We often take our bikes on the Metro trains here in Los Angeles, even at rush hour. Does the L prohibit bikes in the evening?

    I also have the option of leaving my bike inside of the office at work all night, and have done it in the past when I needed to take the train or bus somewhere.

    • Dottie says:

      No bikes on the L during morning or evening rush hour and I’m not willing to hang around work late for that. Even after official rush hour, my L line is too crowded to bring on Oma.

  17. nowhere says:

    I don’t think riding in fresh snow is a problem in and of itself. It’s being out there with all the heavy metal traffic in that fresh snow that makes me uneasy. I was out in my car visiting a friend 50 Km from home on the evening we had our first (and so far only) real snowfall this year in Vancouver. The things I saw that night! Then, next morning I counted all the cars in ditches, in fields, the knocked over street signs and lights…

  18. Bill says:

    In general terms where do people park bikes while at work? For me I work on the 26th floor, some have brought thier bike and put it in their office.

    One guy parks his out by the train and takes his seat off because it is quick release.

    I wish more office buildings had a bike rack in the parking deck away from general public.



    • dukiebiddle says:

      The taking one’s saddle off thing is insane. It takes me weeks to find the perfect spot for my saddle. There are better ways to protect the saddle.

    • red 22 says:

      Removing the quick release saddle sounds a good security idea. No big deal to put it back on.

      Where to leave your bike? Tackle it individually or as a group. Mosey around the building and see what “nooks and crannies” might be available.

      Approach fellow cyclists, meet in a pub and discuss how you might deal with it..

      Any city or state regulations which might require employers or building owners to provide “reasonable” parking space for bicycles?

      Good luck!

  19. I think it’s great that you are continuing to ride in the winter weather, but the chemical warming packs (which I’m assuming are disposable) make me cringe. I know there are lots of reasons for biking other than environmental concerns . . . .

    There are various options for reusable hand and foot warmers that would likely perform just as well. It might be a bigger up-front investment, but would save money over time.

    I haven’t tried biking with them yet (and these particular ones might be a bit bulky), but I recently received a pair of regifted foot warmers with flax seed in them. Just heat in the microwave, and they’re good to go.

  20. Daniel says:

    I definitely wouldn’t leave a nice bike outside overnight. I did enjoy riding through the falling snow yesterday, but everybody pretty knows I’m a little extreme. With the studded tires, fresh snow is more slippery than a plain sheet of ice, though, so it does warrant additional caution.


  21. Karen says:

    I wouldn’t leave my bike out overnight at work. A friend did that recently and his bike was vandelized. On days when I think I weather won’t cooperate with the ride home I then I walk home, ask a coworker to drop me off or for my husband to swing by and pick me up.

  22. Tanya says:

    I would not leave the bike out overnight. Best if you can either bring it on the L, or if you can find somewhere indoors to leave it overnight. At my last job in downtown Toronto, I parked in an underground parking garage so I felt safe leaving the bike overnight if unexpected weather conditions occurred. Fresh snow is not so bad and is actually fun, but 4 inches of it is! Hard to know where it will be when you are coming home. Also depending on road conditions and how far you are away you can always get off and walk on the sidewalk on sketchier parts.

    But probably given that forecast, the fact I could not bring the bike on transit, and if I had to leave the bike outside I would probably opt to take transit at the beginning of the day.

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