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Nichole Madsen, Liv Ambassador

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Hi, I’m Nichole, a first-year Liv Ambassador, and I live in Winnipeg in Manitoba. For me, winter riding involves riding in the city doing errands, and visiting my favorite spots. I also enjoy fat biking, both on city paths and country trails.

Why do you love it?

Winter riding re-sparked my love of spending time outdoors on cold days. Especially those perfect cold, sunny, blue sky Winterpeg days! Riding in the city has also allowed me to increase my city ride season for errands, which decreases my car usage even more! Winnipeg has a slowly expanding series of multi-use and bike paths that make winter riding in the city safer with each passing season. Many of these routes follow along the rivers that run through Winnipeg, and the quiet beauty of cycling on snow-covered paths, along these corridors, is a real treat.

A few seasons ago I started fat biking, and have enjoyed riding trails outside the city limits, as well as along the rivers in Winnipeg. Fat bike riding opportunities in the city can be found wherever there are dog walkers to pack down a trail! We are also fortunate to have some lovely groomed single track close to the city in Birds Hill Provincial Park.

How to be prepared

Figuring out the clothing layers that worked best for me was key to preparing for winter rides. You may be pleased to discover that many of the winter gear you already own works great for winter cycling. Trial and error, advice from your local bike shop, and from other winter riders can be great resources!

Dressing in layers, and avoiding overheating is really important. I start with a wool base layer (t-shirt in fall, long sleeve in winter), and add a wool mid-layer as the temperatures drop. I also transition from a fall windproof shell to a down jacket, with a windproof neck tube, to ward off the chilly neck drafts. A pair of thermal tights gets me through until the temperatures really start to drop. I then switch to softshell pants over wool long johns. I layer socks as well, using a thin base and mid outer sock. I have found switching to a composite pedal with good pins (instead of a metal pedal) made a difference in keeping my feet warm. Make sure to thoroughly dry boots, and liners between rides, as even a slightly damp liner will have your toes freezing in short order. I favor a lobster fingerstyle glove for braking and shifting ease, with a thin liner glove underneath, this way I never have bare hands when my outer gloves are off to have a snack or lock up a bike. I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned dressing in layers!

Switching to an insulated water bottle, and keeping snacks and my phone in an inside pocket, to prevent freezing, were lessons quickly learned. Remember that days are short, so plan accordingly, and keep your lights fully charged!

Your essentials

Goggles were a game-changer for my winter riding enjoyment. They really do make a huge difference to overall warmth when the temperature starts to drop. I put studded tires on my city bike, as the roads and trails can get icy sometimes. The extra grip adds is much appreciated on sketchy ride days. Also, good boots and gaiters have been helpful with keeping my feet warm, something that has been quite a struggle.

Recovery time!

Nothing beats a hot cup of coffee and cookies post-ride. I find I also have to drink a lot more water off the bike, as I drink less while riding in the cold.

Learn More!

Looking for other ways to stay active during winter? Yoga might just be what you need to take care of your mental and physical health. Check out our yoga guide here!