It's that time of year again; the weather is getting a little better, the days are slightly longer, but it's still cold outside. We are just about into February, which for me is the worst month of the winter. Here in Sunny Central Washington we typically get the full range of weather in February. It can go from 50+ degrees to 0 in the blink of an eye. This about the time I start feeling a little stir crazy and need to get out. So, I go riding as much as possible. Believe it or not, there are quite a few places in Washington to ride during the winter. In fact, many are better to ride in the winter than they are any other time of year. But the big problem is how do you do it, and keep your toes from freezing off? Here are some suggestions and things that we have figured out over the years to help.
One of the biggest things that I have found to make a cold day adventure a little more comfortable is to have a warm-ish place to change, eat lunch or just take a break. The ideal would be to have a nice toy-hauler or some other type RV. But, let's be honest those things are expensive and add quite a bit of complication and expense to a day ride. Right now we use a cargo trailer for our winter riding. The bikes are hauled inside, then once we get there and unload we have a nice open space. With a few lights, an indoor/outdoor carpet that rolls up and a tank mounted propane heater we have a cozy place to get out of the wind and get warm if needed. Not to mention it makes a great little shop if someone has mechanical problems.
At this point, you might be thinking that a cargo trailer would be great, but you don't have a truck to pull one or the extra money laying around to go buy one. Or, you simply don't want to mess with a trailer, then what?. This doesn't mean you'are out of luck. Before we had a trailer we used an a pop-up canopy with walls and a propane heater. All of which are fairly inexpensive and don't take a huge amount of room when stored. Throw a tarp down, and wa-la you have a cozy little place out of the weather that you can stand-up in. A word of warning though, if you do go the canopy route, be sure you secure it to something. Many of the places we ride in the winter can be windy, and those canopies make great sails if the wind catches it. You can tie the canopy to your truck or trailer, then use your gas cans and straps as anchors, works like a charm.
No matter what, the best way to beat the winter blues in on a bike. It's great exercise, gets you out of the house and lowers the chances of being pillowed in your sleep by your spouse.