Winter cycling tips

With a bicycle it’s fast and easy to move from one place to another here in Rovaniemi. I’m awfully lazy when it comes to exercise so cycling is my way to include some sports in my daily life. I ride my bike almost every day through the year – also in winter. 

The best things about cycling in here are the wonderful views along the river, but obviously it also exposes you to the temper tantrums of the local weather.  In winter it’s not just cold but also dark and slippery (The city of Rovaniemi keeps the sidewalks in a pretty good condition though.) I admit that the cycling conditions are hardly ideal but with right equipment the obstacles are easy to overcome.

Besides a bike you need warm enough clothes to keep the chilly wind away, but not too many layers! Biking is a sports activity after all, and in this city there are usually some uphills at your journey wherever you are heading. It’s also important to keep your hands and your head warm. Good gloves and a hat will make your cycling experience much more comfortable. Sometimes it just gets too cold to ride a bike, I guess the end of my comfort zone goes somewhere between -15 and -20 °C.

You want the other people on the road to see you so in winter time you can’t have too many reflectors on you (It’s ok to look like a Christmas tree) Even better is to have bicycle lights so that also you can see ahead of you! In Finland it’s actually obligatory to have at least a front light in your bike.

Especially when cycling here in the North it’s crucial to have the right safety equipment. If you want to keep your head on your shoulders you need a helmet. I’m still in the process of trying to re-learn to use mine after my rebellious teenage years when the helmet was the uncoolest thing ever. I admit I don’t always remember, but the slippery weather like this week is a good reminder!

If it’s super slippery I usually just give up and trust to my feet or jump in to a bus. Another option is to get winter tires for your bike so you’ll have a better grip to the ground. I had ones in my bike for a while and they were absolutely amazing, but after a few months of enjoying safe traveling that bike got stolen.

Unfortunately bike thieves are quite a problem here. Luckily you can protect your bike. You just need a lock, and with a lock I’m not talking about the sad and thin iron wire things. You need a LOCK that’s solid metal and allows you to secure your bike to a permanent object so that the burglars can’t just lift your bike to their truck. My current bike has survived pretty long with one made of sturdy chain mail. One of my friends always locks her bike with three different locks, that’s not bad option either.

But as I said, it is possible to keep your bike to yourself if you just take care to lock your bike properly. Remember to take care of your own equipment and safety too! Happy winter cycling trips!


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