In this third installment of our Winter Cycling Stories Series, José Badillo tells us about winter cycling in his community of Riverside South.
When and why did you start riding through the winter?
My first winter bike ride was in 2008 when we moved here from Mexico City. OC Transpo was on strike at the time, and I bought myself a used bicycle so that I could go to the store and buy groceries. It was cold, of course, but I got used to it. Since then I have continued to ride my bike almost all year round—I normally don’t ride when the temperature dips below -10°C or in heavy snow.
How do you deal with the cold?
I continue riding in winter because I enjoy the manageable challenge it presents: I feel accomplished each day as I find the best strategy to keep me safe and comfortable in the conditions. I wear different clothes for different temperatures, and combine jackets with a range of under layers and pants as needed. It is not the same to ride at plus 5 than -10, so I have learned to adjust daily with the conditions.
What would improve your winter biking experience?
Ottawa is a great city for biking. I have been lucky because I can find a bike route to take everywhere I go, and I want to make as much use as possible of the bike infrastructure available. Of course, I could make even better use of this infrastructure if all of it were cleared in winter: some bike routes are full of snow, making it impossible for me to ride for part of the year.
Do you have any tips for people who are new to winter biking?
I would suggest to new riders to talk with somebody who has experience riding in the winter. It takes some years to gain some experience to ride in winter safe and as comfortable as possible. Through Bike Ottawa, I was very happy to find others willing to share stories about winter cycling. Before this, I thought I was alone!
- We’ll be featuring José’s story and more in our forthcoming Annual Report on Cycling: stay tuned!
- Read more about biking through winter, incuding other installments in our winter cycling series. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to catch shorter, weekly winter cycling stories!
- Tell your own winter cycling story: Find the information you need to submit here.