Winter Road Riding

  • Author:
    Brynna King
  • Posted in:
    Cycling Culture
Photo courtesy of Phil Bard

Photo courtesy of Phil Bard

In some areas, bikes and their riders part ways at the start of each winter season. Lonely bikes huddle in dark garages, waiting for that first 70-degree day when their humans will wipe the cobwebs off their handlebars, pump air into their tires and start their stiff gears moving.

But this is bike country. And in bike country, cycling is an all-weather activity.

The Ride Oregon event calendar doesn’t slow much during the winter months, because Oregonians know something that most people don’t: Cycling can be just as satisfying in the sludge as it is in the sun — as long as you have the right gear, the right clothing and the right attitude.

The biggest concern for most people is choosing some good pieces of clothing and a couple of accessories to help keep their bodies warm, dry and safe.

Here are a few good first pieces to get you started:

  • A waterproof, wind-resistant jacket.
  • A set of bike fenders (both quick clip-on options and installed, full-coverage fenders are available).
  • Quick-drying pants, base layers and socks (preferably made out of non-cotton fabrics, such as synthetics or wool).

Once you try out riding in your area and have a better idea of what to expect, you might want to invest in some extras, such as a waterproof backpack or pannier (if you plan to carry anything), an ear-covering cycling cap to wear under your helmet, waterproof shoes or shoe covers, waterproof or windproof gloves, and waterproof or water-resistant pants. Depending on the area you live in, you may be most concerned with water, snow, or cold air and wind. With some preparation and plenty of test runs, you’ll figure out a cycling setup that works for you.

A note about bikes: In parts of the state that are rainy but not snowy, or on roads that are consistently plowed, your normal steed and tires will usually do fine — just make sure to get regular tune-ups so you know your brakes and other components are ready to take on slipperier winter conditions. In very wet or snowy areas, you might consider picking up a pair of traction tires or tire chains to get you through the winter.

If you’ve been a fair-weather rider but you’re ready to toughen up, consider talking to someone at one of our many Oregon bike shops. Local shop employees can give great recommendations for bike gear and clothing that will work well in your area, whether you’re going on weekend rides or plan to start commuting by bike year-round.

Of course — as with any activity — anyone can don the duds, but the attitude’s all up to you. For inspiration on your journey toward becoming a hardcore, all-weather rider, browse road routes in your area and check out the winter group rides on our event calendar. (The upcoming Worst Day of the Year ride in Portland is a great place to see firsthand just how much fun bad-weather riding can be!)

We promise that with the right preparations, riding can be just as rewarding in winter as in warmer weather.

Plus, the bragging rights are way better.

Browse all Cycling Updates in Ride Inspiration


  1. Any time of the year is good to hit the Banks-Bernonia Linear trail! No car exhaust, intersections or stop lights.