Folding Bike Blog

Keep Your Feet Warm: Winter Cycling

The biggest challenge to riding in the winter is keeping your extremities warm. We looked at some options for your hands last week, now let’s talk about protecting those toes.

It Starts With Socks

It’s the first thing you put on your foot. When you’re riding in cold weather, you need to choose a quality sock. Merino wool is your best bet. It’s warm and quite good at wicking moisture. You can layer thinner wool socks (some riders use a silk sock under the wool) or go for the thick pair. It depends what’s comfortable for you.

I have pairs of Swiftwick and Smartwool socks that I’m quite fond of, but there are a lot of companies making Merino wool socks. Check out Sock Guy for some particularly fun designs (yes, that is a Sriracha sock).


Shoe Covers

If you’re riding clipless, your shoes likely have a fair amount of ventilation. In the summertime, airflow is your best friend, but that’s not the case in winter. A pair of shoe covers will not only stop the wind, but also keep your feet dry. Most shoe manufacturers make their own covers, but Showers Pass and Gore Bike make some excellent options too.


Shoe covers made specifically for cycling shoes have an opening on the bottom for the cleat. If you’re not riding clipless there are other “overshoe” options as well (check out the Showers Pass Club Shoe Cover).

Sole Inserts and Chemical Warmers

Heat is often lost through the bottom of your feet. Unless you have winter specific cycling shoes (those do exist), there won’t be much insulation. A set of insoles can help quite a bit.


There are also chemical warmers that are shaped like insoles to fit right in your shoes. You know the drill with these. Most brands you just open the packaging and contact with air will trigger a chemical reaction. They heat up and stay warm for about 8 hours. They’re not reusable, but they can be quite nice for long rides on the coldest days.


The DIY Approach

Don’t want to invest in expensive products for the few times you do ride in the winter? Try the ol’ plastic bags on the feet. I learned this trick from a former bike messenger. Just slip a plastic bag over your sock, before you put it in the shoe. It will block the wind, and keep you relatively dry. For added warmth, slip another sock over the plastic. Bread bags are particularly effective, but any plastic bag works.


Keep Your Core Warm Too

If your core gets cold, your body is going to work harder to keep your vital organs warm. This pulls heat from your extremities and the cold creeps into your feet and hands that much faster. An extra layer up top, insulated bib shorts, or a warm hat under your helmet can help ensure your feet will be warm too.

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Repurposed Bike Parts: Getting Creative

There are a lot of parts on a bicycle that need to be replaced regularly; tires, tubes, chains, brake cables, you name it. When old parts are swapped out for shiny new replacements, they often end up in a scrap heap or a bin in your basement never to be seen again, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Some very creative and resourceful people are putting discarded bike parts to good use.

Green Guru
Green Guru is a company out of Boulder, CO building a wide range of cycling accessories almost entirely from recycled bike tubes.  They specialize in bags; messenger bags, backpacks, panniers, saddle bags, all made from tubes that would have ended up in a landfill. They even make phone cases, wallets, and laptop sleeves. The unique material means they’re naturally waterproof. Find them at


Bicycle Belts
Tom Hellman from Tallahassee, FL has a successful business producing handmade belts from used bicycle tires. The wide variety of colors and tread patterns out there translates to some very interesting belt designs. You can decorate your waist with anything from colorful road slicks to knobby mountain bike tires. Keep your pants up, and feel good that there’s one less tire in trash. If you want a belt made from your own tire, custom belts are available too.


Bicycle Taxidermy
We all have a sentimental attachment to our bikes. If you’re getting a new ride and want to immortalize a part of your old one, Bicycle Taxidermy can turn your old cockpit into a beautiful wall decoration. Inspired by antlers and horns you often see mounted on wood plaques, a taxidermied bicycle is a more animal-friendly way to liven up your den.


Bicycle Jewelry
There’s a wide variety of jewelry out there made from bike chains, spokes, and cogs. If you’re feeling crafty, a lot of these would make a great DIY project. If not, check out the marketplace for these one of a kind items.



With the unfortunate “throw-away” nature of today’s society, I love to see things being recycled or reused. Clearly the bike community is filled with some very creative minds!

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Check It Before You Ride It

As the expression usually goes: Check it before you wreck it.

It’s important to be sure your bike is safe each and every time you ride it. Too many of us go days or weeks, regularly riding our bike, but never giving an ounce of thought to its condition or necessary maintenance. Here are a few things to look at each and every time you throw your leg over the saddle. It won’t take long, and could save you a world of trouble later.

1. Tires
Riding on under-inflated tires can lead to pinch flats, and even damage to your rim. Most tires have the suggested air pressure printed on the sidewall, and a good floor pump will have a pressure gauge built in. If you don’t have time to use a gauge each time you ride, at least give your tires a squeeze. With some experience, you’ll be able to tell when they need air. The narrower the tire, the higher the required pressure.


You should also inspect the tire for cracks or cuts in the sidewall. Replace them if you notice any.

2. Brakes
As you can imagine, it’s pretty important to have functioning brakes. Squeeze each brake lever and make sure they engage the brake before the lever makes it all back to the handlebar. Attempt to roll the bike forward with the brake engaged to ensure they’re functioning.


Inspect the cables to make sure they aren’t frayed, and take a look at the brake pads. Ensure they aren’t too worn, and that they contact the rim evenly. If the pads rub the tire at all, they need to be adjusted. Rubbing will damage the tire and eventually cause a flat.

3. Quick Releases
Many bikes use quick releases on wheels and seat post clamps to make for easy changes and adjustments. You should ensure all your bike’s quick releases are closed and sufficiently tightened before riding. If you’re on a Montague folding bike, you have one extra to check. Make sure the frame quick release in the center of the top tube is also closed. A quick release lever should be tight enough to leave an imprint on your hand when closing it.


4.Chain Lube
For your drivetrain to continue functioning, and function efficiently, it needs lubrication. This is especially important if you’re riding in winter, or particularly wet conditions. That can lead to a rusty chain very quickly. You don’t want to over lubricate, as it will lead to a sticky build up and actually decrease efficiency. Check your chain before each ride though. If it appears dry, squeaks, or shows any sign of rust, apply a small amount to the inside of the chain. Do this while rotating it backwards to quickly cover the entire length.


5. Check for Loose Parts / Joints

Hold the front wheel between your legs and attempt to turn the handlebars. Do the bars turn independently of the wheel? If so, the stem needs to be tightened to the steerer tube. (If you don’t know what I mean by that, take your bike to a professional mechanic for this.)

Check the handlebars, stem, and saddle to be sure nothing is loose. As you push off and put your weight on the bike, you should notice right away if there’s any strange movement in the crankset/pedals. Listen for clunking noises or worrisome sounds. If you can’t diagnose it, don’t ride it. Bring it to a local bike shop.

If you go through this check list each time you ride, you’ll have a much better experience with your bike in the long run.

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Keep Your Hands Warm: Winter Cycling

Putting on a pair of gloves when it’s cold out isn’t rocket science, but when the temperature drops to single digits, keeping your digits warm can be a challenge. With the colds spells in New England recently, we’ve been testing a few products meant for the coldest conditions.

Lobster Claw Gloves

The classic mitten design has all your fingers together, sharing body heat in the same space. The result is a much warmer experience than having them separated in a glove. The problem with cycling in mittens, is that it’s quite difficult to effectively operate a brake lever.

Enter: the Lobster Claw Glove. They use the same principle as the mitten, but divide your fingers into two sections. Your index and middle finger get to share heat, and your pinkie reaps the benefit of it’s neighbor, the ring finger. With this design, you can easily pull the brake while keeping two fingers around the bars.


I’ve been riding with these Louis Garneau Super Shields for the last few weeks, and they are definitely a big improvement over a traditional glove design. Usually it’s my ring finger and pinkie that start to go numb on the coldest days, but even in 10-15°F, they were just fine. I haven’t experienced any particularly wet conditions with these yet, but LG claims they’re fully waterproof. There’s a little bit of extra padding in the palms too, which is nice on those longer rides.



Sometimes you need even more protection, and when it’s ridiculously cold (I’m looking at you Minnesota), not much can top the Bar Mitt. The Bar Mitt is a neoprene mitten that mounts directly on your handelbars. Your brake levers are actually inside the mitten so you can still operate them as usual. I’d recommend still wearing a glove inside the Bar Mitt, but you can get away with a much thinner one, allowing for more dexterity, and a more natural feeling.


They’re very easy to install, too. The Mitts slip right over the ends of your bars, while a zipper and a few velcro bits secure them around the brake levers, and seal out the wind . When it gets warm they can be quickly taken off. Bar Mitts even has models specifically for drop bars (internal or external cable routing).


They’ve proven to be the most effective setup I’ve found for harsh conditions. Combine Bar Mitts with a thick glove and you can ride in pretty much anything. If something better comes along, I’ll let you know.

Describe your current setup in the comments, we want to know what you use!

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Bikes Make the Front Page in Boston


Here in Montague’s hometown of Boston, bikes are making news. We’ve had our fair share of snow, sleet, and freezing temperatures this winter, and the Boston Globe has taken note that we’re still out there riding! On the front page of today’s Globe is a feature titled, “Welcoming The Winter Cycle”. The article celebrates the all-weather cyclist, not an uncommon site here in New England’s Hub. Annual bike trips in Boston have increased an incredible 78 percent since 2007, and while many put their bike in storage for the winter months, an astonishing 14,000 bike trips are made in the city every day during winter. Even the single digit temperatures of the last few days hasn’t discouraged us.

Greg Ralich, interviewed in the Globe article: “People are like, ‘You’re seriously going to ride in this kind of weather?’” “I’m like, ‘Yeah. No problem.’”

This is New England. We take pride in having harsh winters, and it’s certainly not going to keep us off our bikes. Here at Montague, we’re certainly still commuting by bike, how about you?:


You can read the Boston Globe article in it’s entirety on the Boston Globe website.

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Montague Tour of the Americas: Belize

Ever wanted to pack up your bikes and go to Belize for a ride through the jungle? Take a look!

Although we’ve only spent five days in Belize, we have been pleasantly surprised for two reasons: first, the people. Belize is a truly mixed country with people from Mexico and Guatemala, Mayans, Mennonites (descendants from the Dutch who settled in Belize in the 50s) and many Creoles (not to mention the considerable Chinese community). What is interesting to see is that all these cultures get along very well and all share the same Belizean spirit. The people are incredible friendly and it was obvious to see that they were happy. Although we had met a lot of friendly Mexicans, we observed far more smiles in Belize. The second reason: the nature and all the wildlife we’ve seen. We came across howler monkeys, nurse sharks, eagle rays, giant turtles, toucans, jaguars, a cougar, a puma, and many many fish.

exploring the island 5

Upon our arrival, we went to a city named Orange Walk from where most people take a boat tour to visit the ruins of Lamanai. As this was quite expensive, we decided to go there by car. Although everyone advised us of bad road conditions, it turned out to be no problem for the Land Cruiser, even if it was raining heavily. The ruins were spectacular, even if we have seen many before, as they were located in a jungle setting. We did hurry up a bit because the mosquitoes were very hungry. At the end we returned to Orange Walk where we camped. Our host was listening to music very loudly, and as the end of the year was approaching, it was time for some Reggae Christmas music!


From here we went in the direction of Belize City, and stopped to visit the Baboon Sanctuary, run by a cooperative which tries to re-install the natural habitat of the howler monkey. Here we had the great opportunity to feed a wild howler monkey. From here we could continue to Belize City. The city itself does not have so much to offer and most of the buildings are in a bad state, nonetheless, it had some charm to it.


From here we could take a watertaxi to Caye Caulker, one of many islands Belize has. As we knew the island is small and there are no cars, we of course brought along our Montague folding bikes! The boat was not very large, so the folding feature was a necessity!

entering the bikes in the water taxi 2

entering the bikes in the water taxi8

The place was very nice with only basic houses and dirt roads, but with enough tourism to ensure a good variety of hotels, bars and restaurants. There is not much to do there but relax, a perfect getaway. The inhabited part of the island is maybe 3 kilometers long and maximum 200 meters wide. We used our bikes to go from one place to another, and also did a tour around the entire island. As they’d received a lot of rain, many of the roads were flooded. Some sections were difficult, but with the X50 and X70 bikes we could do it with few problems. We crossed the entire island in about 1 hour 30 minutes and really enjoyed the ride. After the excursion our bikes needed a good cleaning!

exploring the island 8edit

Hostel bikes

 The next day we took a snorkeling tour along the Belizean barrier reef, the second largest reef in the world. The main attraction is the Shark Ray Alley. Here you can swim with dozens of nurse sharks and even more eagle rays. Apparently they are centralized there because fisherman used to clean their daily catch at that spot, attracting them to the area. Another stop was the coral gardens where we could swim with brightly colored fishes and a variety of turtles. We then came upon an area entirely filled with conch shells. The ocean in this area is rich with these shells and fisherman harvest them for the meat inside. As with Shark Ray Alley, the fisherman came to this exact spot to remove the meat from the conches, throwing the shell back in the water. The result is quite spectacular, as the entire bottom of the ocean is covered by the shells.

bike in fron of the hostel waiting to be used



After an amazing time on Caye island, we headed back to the mainland on the watertaxi. The rest of Central America was waiting for us. From the city we headed in the direction of the Guatemalan border, passing by the Belizean Zoo. We’re not really big fans of zoos in general but this one was rather spectacular. To start, you can only find local animals and although they are living in closed areas, these areas resemble their natural habitat quite closely. When we say closed area, don’t think of your traditional zoo – here you could easily lose a hand to a jaguar if you are stupid enough. In addition, the majority of the animals here are rescued and the staff is super friendly and very willing to improve your experience any way they can.



From the Zoo we went to San Ignacio, one of the last villages before Guatemala. Here we met Paul and Amanda, an American Couple on holiday in Belize. We shared a delicious meal and some drinks with them on our last night in Belize. Our experience here has been very positive. A beautiful country, and a great place for mountain biking!

exploring the island 2

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The New Cycle Courier: E-Trikes for UPS

We all know the classic image of the cycle courier, the hardened bike messenger who rides day in and day out to deliver the most time critical of packages. Accustomed to rain, sleet, and bitter cold, no stranger to aggressive drivers and shouting matches with cabbies. While bike messenger jobs have been on the decline ever since the appearance of email (and even the fax machine), most cities do still have a demand. The beauty of having something delivered by bike is the human powered element, the lack of pollution, and one less delivery truck added to the mess of traffic already clogging our streets.

With people shopping online more than ever, there are still millions of packages being delivered every day. Traditional courier services have begun to look at more sustainable ways to get those packages from distribution center to your door. While the delivery drone may be a few years off, UPS is currently testing an E-trike for deliveries in certain European cities.


The UPS Cargo Cruiser is a pedal-assisted electric trike with a top speed of 15 mph, a range of about 21 miles, and approximately 77 cubic feet of cargo space. Not bad for a vehicle that costs next to nothing to “fuel” and produces no emissions. You can currently see these being pedaled around Dortmund, Germany, an old city with narrow winding streets that would be difficult for most trucks or vans to navigate.

These vehicles could be a great asset in other congested cities around the world, providing a clean and efficient way to deliver packages, and reducing the number of large trucks on streets increasingly populated by cyclists and pedestrians. While it’s not exactly a return to the glory days of the bike messenger, we’re pleased with the progress. Hopefully we’ll be seeing these stateside in the near future, and with any luck, FedEx and DHL will follow suit.


Image: UPS

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The Many Uses of Pedal Power

Bicycles can be used for transportation, fitness, recreation, and for those with a little imagination, a whole lot more. Pedal powered vehicles have been turned into shops, pubs, food carts, and perhaps most surprisingly… a venue for pole dancing. We’ll get to that one later.

Let’s take a look at these unique uses of pedal power, as their popularity is only growing:

The Beer Bike:  A pub on wheels propelled by the pedaling of everyone on board. Accommodating up to 16 riders on bicycle seats around a wooden bar, the Beer Bike can hit speeds of 5 mph with everyone working. The experience features draft beer, and an integrated sound system to play your own choice of music. Don’t worry, there’s also a sober guide who sits in the middle and navigates.

It’s certainly an original and environmentally friendly way to see a city, and you get to have a pint with friends while you’re doing it. The Beer Bike was originally created in 1997 by Zwier Van Laar in Holland, as a way to help a pub owner advertise his establishment in a local parade. It was wildly popular, and can now be found in many cities throughout Europe and the US.

Beer bike

Drinking is not the goal here, with the main focus being a good time with friends or family. Most Beer Bikes set a limit of about 10 liters of beer per hour for the group of 16, so no one is out there getting too inebriated.  One question does come to mind though; when the group has had their fill, where’s the restroom?

Here’s a list of Pedal Pubs in the US:

The Coffee Bike:  Instead of finding your way to the coffee shop, the coffee shop comes to you.  Popping up in different parts of the city, a cargo trike serves up your favorite espresso drinks, hot coffee, and cold brew, all without electricity or motors.  I can’t think of a better way to get my coffee in the morning.


The Coffee Trike in Boston, MA.

Here in Boston, the hometown of Montague Bikes, The Coffee Trike opreated by Alessandro “San” Bellino has been serving up caffeinated delights by bike since early 2012. Coffee bikes are popping up all over, so keep an eye out in your town and prepare for a warm cup of coffee.

The Pole Dancer Bike: You read it right; a bike hauling a mini stage that includes a pole, 2 strobe lights, siren, and a professional dancer.

It’s an obvious way to attract people’s attention, but what’s the point?

pole riders good one

The Poleriders, located in New York, define themselves as trained professionals on a mission “to promote bicycle safety, raise awareness of the immense potential of pedal power, and bring pole dancing to the streets where dancing belongs”.  Sounds good to me!

Other Mobile Bike Businesses: I’m sure you’ve seen delivery bikes and pedicabs, but how about a bike mechanic that comes to you… by bike!  A longtime dealer of Montague Bikes in Newmarket Ontario, The Mobile Bike Shop is just that, a bike shop on the move. While they have an elaborate truck and trailer to service anything from races to group training sessions, they also offer service by bike.  They come to you to repair your bike, and you avoid the inconvenience of having to haul it across town with a flat tire or broken derailleur.  Practical and convenient!


Montague folding bike with trailer. Photo courtesy of The Mobile Bike Shop ltd.

Know any other mobile bike businesses that should be on our list? Have you been inspired to start your own? We want to hear about it! As a business, going by bike is a great way to reduce costs and environmental impact, and it’s a lifestyle we can’t help but get behind.

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Tour of the Americas: Farewell Mexico

This week: a guest post from Mireia and Alex, our friends traveling the America’s with their Montague bikes. They’ve just enjoyed their last days in Mexico before entering Belize. Here at Montague HQ, we’re feeling a bit envious of their experience… and their warm weather! Here’s a comparison of their situation, and ours here in Boston. Notice any difference?


Let’s see what they had to say:
The last time we got in touch we were in the state of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido. After the great time on the beach we headed off in the direction of the province of Chiapas, and stopped at another canyon: the ‘Cañon del Sumidero’. We are slowly becoming experts in this mountain type! The views from the lookouts are spectacular and became even better when we decided to take a speedboat ride through the canyon. Steep cliffs, crocodiles, (a bit of garbage) and a big giant Christmas tree made it an unforgettable experience!


Afterwards we went to San Cristobal de las Casas, another colonial town which many people on our travels recommended to us. In this village we prepared for our tour through Chiapas and the Yucatan, and experienced the coldest temperatures we’ve felt in the last 4 months. From here on out we didn’t get the nice weather we were used to. Before leaving, we stumbled upon some other long term travelers at the local camp ground. Among them were two French couples traveling in a regular camper and a large school bus, and one English family traveling in a fully equipped MAN truck, a very cool thing to see.


We next explored the province of Chiapas in detail. Located next to the border with Guatemala (in the past it was part of Guatemala), the area is a natural paradise with many jungles, waterfalls and animals. After seeing the breathtaking falls of Chiflón, we visited the Lagos of Montebello; a series of 50 lakes known for their different colors of water. Here we met three super nice people from the Basque Country in Spain, and went on to explore Chiapas together. From the lakes we went on to the next village, Las Nubes, where we enjoyed some truly amazing waterfalls. The relatively calm river is squeezed through narrow canyons in this area, resulting in nonstop violent rapids. We felt we could look upon them for hours. Very exciting!




Having no food here, the locals were prepared to kill a chicken for us, which we could put on the barbecue. Yummy yummy! Although our request was a bit unusual for them: a chicken with no head, no lungs, no heart, no feet… they just laughed. From here we continued our trip by passing through the jungle of the Guacamayas where the howler monkeys were so loud, they make you believe that they are gorillas. You can also see Macaw parrots here (although the best time for them is around June). After a guided tour through the jungle we went to Yaxchilan, a Mayan site located in the dense jungle and only accessible via boat. This was truly a spectacular location. From this site we drove to Palenque, were we visited another more popular Mayan ruin. Having found a camp site here we decided to stay a few days and relax. We were near the ruins and the waterfall of Agua Azul, not a bad place to stay!


Here we said goodbye to our new Basque friends, who were continuing their voyage to Mexico City. Next, we would tackle Mexico’s most touristic region: the Yucatan. Unlike much of Mexico, the roads here were in perfect condition; we could suddenly travel a much longer distance in one day! Campeche was our first stop in the area, and it would be the last colonial village we visited. Nearby were the ruins of Uxmal and the ruins of Chichen Itza, considered one of the new wonders of the world. The area is very well known for it’s cenotes (underwater caves). It is claimed that these holes were created over 65 million years ago by meteorites, the same ones which would have lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The water in these cenotes is very clear as it comes from underground rivers, which filter the water continuously.


From there we headed down to Puerto Morelos where we could snorkel through the second largest barrier reef in the world. Nearby is Akumal, where there is a beach with over 30 resident turtles with whom you can swim (they are staying there naturally). After swimming for 20 minutes without a turtle in sight, we were about to give up and go back to the beach when suddenly, two enormous turtles came out of nowhere. The water is not at all deep here, so we could swim above them while they were eating the the seagrass below, and get a great view.


Our next stop was the famous beach ruins of Tulum, built high on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful Caribbean sea. Tulum was the perfect place for biking, and after several rainy days we finally got some sunshine and were anxious to get on our Montague bikes. The first day Alex took the bike to go shopping. It was a good idea, as the car was already set up in the campground, and after driving for so long he needed to stretch his legs.

alex coming back from the shop

tulum by bike

The second day there we rode to the Tulum ruins. The weather was finally on our side, so it was a beautiful day to enjoy an outdoor activity! It was definitely worth it, as to make it there by car would not be very practical.





At night we rode to the city center to have dinner. It’s a good thing we could get some exercise on the ride back, because we ate more than our fair share on this evening! In the morning, we biked to a nearby beach before saying goodbye to the Riviera Maya!



Having been in Mexico for 3 months, we have finally entered Belize, another amazing country where we hope to enjoy many more adventures on our Montague bikes!

With the end of the year approaching, we would also like to take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year! Thanks for reading!

Alexander and Mireia

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Tips for Cycling in the Snow

Riding your bike in the snow can be challenging, but it’s no doubt an adventure. My most satisfying bike commutes are ones where others say “you actually rode in that!?” You do need to properly prepare for it to be an enjoyable experience, so here are a few tips.


When cycling in the snow:

    • Use the rear brake. Locking the front wheel will cause you to lose your balance quickly.
    • Avoid sudden movements. Cornering forces you and the bike to lean into the turn. Turning slowly will keep you upright.
    • Reduce speed to prevent heavy braking.  Sudden stops are rarely possible, and skidding leads to a loss of control.
    • Add fenders to your bike to avoid splashing and water coming off your wheels. Staying relatively dry will keep you in good spirits.
    • Use waterproof clothes and dress in layers. Wear garments to cover your neck, ears and hands. In freezing rain or sleet, ski goggles are a great addition.
    • With heavy traffic or bad road conditions, don’t be afraid to pull to the side of the road and walk a section. It’s not a race, what really matters is arriving safely.


Final tip: be sure to have fun. We might all have different reasons for riding in the winter, but one thing we can agree on is that it’s fun. Enjoy the challenge, and enjoy being one of the few cyclists out there!

Oh, and keep both hands on the handlebars! :


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