Most states require bicycles to have a white light in front
and a red light in back, both visible at 500 feet, as well as side reflectors
and a red rear reflector.
White strobes are brighter and are visible at a greater
distance but alone they don't meet legal requirements. Also, they blink less
frequently, making it harder for drivers to see your position and direction.
Flashers are best mounted on your bike or rear rack, where
they can be aimed precisely, rather than on clothes or packs, where they shift
around. Many people install more than one rear flasher.
People who ride longer distances and in all conditions
usually use more powerful lights. Generator lights don't work well in wet or
snowy conditions and often don't give enough light at slow winter speeds. The
less sophisticated ones give no light when you're not moving.
Try to pedal smoothly and relax your upper body, especially
on ice and soft snow.
When the bike starts going sideways, make small corrections
rather than over steering and weaving down the trail. Practice riding in a
straight line when the trail is good so it's easier under bad conditions. On some soft trails, higher speeds take
less effort than lower speeds because your tires sink into the snow less at
higher speed. When riding in a
group on soft trails, have the weaker, less skilled or badly equipped riders
lead so they can use the trail before the better riders cut it up. Road ice can provide lots of traction
or very little. Learn how the different types look and sound. Try not to brake
hard on the slippery sort, or if you must, use only your rear brake. Watch for
dry patches where you can do your braking or turning.
Cycling generates a lot of heat so clothes that are warm and
comfortable have to control the buildup of heat and moisture as well as
insulate and protect from wind. Your
particular metabolism, physical condition and riding style will determine
what's needed to keep you warm. Your
outer layer on top and bottom should have a windproof front and breathable
sides and rear.
Goretex and other "breathable" waterproof materials
become clogged with ice at below-freezing temperatures. As windproof front
materials these fabrics are acceptable but unnecessarily expensive. Multiple
light layers with neck zippers let you adjust your ventilation as you ride. Your base layer (against your skin) and
mid-layers should be synthetics or wool. Cotton in these layers will feel
wetter and colder than the above materials. No T-shirts! Carry headband, hat and facemask and
try them in different combinations. Uncovering your head is usually the
simplest way to dump heat. You may
need to change the sizing pads in your helmet or remove them entirely to fit
your winter headgear. Some hats are made specifically to fit under helmets. Try
taping over the vents in your helmet if your head gets too cold.