Winterizing – protection from the “elements”

Snow is falling in Chicago (and across the Midwest) and it can leave bike commuters with more than just snow to battle on the roads.

winter riding

Along the plowed arterial roads, the snow is really not an issue (yet), but slushy conditions and road grit are quickly becoming my main commuting obstacles. I’ve got the fenders and those probably keep most of the road grime generated by my bike off of me.

However, I continue to wear the rain pants to keep the worst of winter’s “elements” – road spray and salt from cars – off of my clothes. With only a couple of inches of snow on the ground, I still got “showered” this morning with dirty, salty road spray.

rain pants and road spray

If you’re riding through winter, be sure to protect both your bike and yourself from the conditions. Last year the Practical Pedal described in detail the usefulness of fenders, mudflaps, maintaining a low center of gravity when biking in slick conditions and even suggested some clothing choices.

A little preparation goes a long way toward a safe and enjoyable winter bike commuting experience.


  1. Cezar

    May I ask, what shoes are you wearing in the above photograph?


  2. Ghost Rider

    Mudflaps are a MUST. They’re cheap (even free) to make and create a huge difference in the amount of crap deposited on the bike…especially on the crucial bottom bracket area.

  3. Elizabeth (Post author)

    @Cezar – I wear leather boots that I bought about 5 years ago just as a winter boot and not for cycling but they work (Bass brand). In the worst of conditions and on the coldest days I’ll wear NEOS overshoes.

  4. Clancy

    Mudflaps are one of the best investments. Now if they could figure out a way to keep the derailer and cassette clean. I had a great test this morning of my bike at -5F. It failed as my rear derailler had a hard time shifting. Going to check cable tension and maybe a couple drops of oil in the housing.

  5. Sean M. O'Grady

    A day like today in Chicago – rain pants are a necessity! i’d be soaked in a block or 2 if I don’t wear them.

  6. Elizabeth (Post author)

    @Sean – I’m curious. What rain pants are you wearing? With the slushy snow falling last night, it was a wet ride. My pants aren’t so waterproof anymore. Luckily it wasn’t too cold. 🙂

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