Winter cycling 2010-2011

Mountain bike from back in snow near Takano Shrine

At the end of 2010 we had a lot of snow here in Shiga. On 31 December 2010 I didn’t get very far on my old mountain bike, but it was a beautiful day.

Greg Peterson standing with Trek 520 bike

As a New Year’s resolution for 2012, I hope to get outdoors more often on my 1996 Trek 520 touring bike. It’s taken me thousands of kilometers around Shiga Prefecture (and a few in Mie). In 2008 I overhauled it and added a Brooks B17 saddle, a Carradice Barley saddlebag, and Schwalbe Marathon tires (Marathon XR 700x35c). It’s not fast, but it’s very comfortable and reliable, even on dirt roads.

In 2011 I got off to a good start in early February, but I haven’t gone cycling very often since rainy season, which began in late May. We had a lot of rain, and then I became extremely busy with weekend events at the university. Autumn was a disaster. In October and November I worked many weekends, it rained some Sundays, and then I caught a cold that lasted several weeks. In 2012 I hope to motivate myself to get back on the bike and ride more often.

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (1977-2020). Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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  1. It is actually a great and useful piece of information.
    I’m satisfied that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ve recently moved to Shiga and picked up cycling. It’s started to get real cold. I can manage while biking during the day, but night is very tough. I cant seem to find anything comfortable to wear at night, while cycling. I’ve worn a down jacket but I do not like to sweat while wearing it. My Uniqlo knit gloves arent doing the best job. My face and head get pretty cold too.

    What clothes would you recommend for wearing while cycling in Shiga at night?

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Welcome to Shiga!

      I don’t do much night cycling these days, but I wear several lightweight layers when it gets cold. For commuting to and from Moriyama Station (about 3km) I wear regular work clothes (black shoes, white shirt, wool suit or wool slacks + fleece jacket). On top I wear a good rainproof mountain parka, and I carry a pair of good cycling rain pants that I wear if necessary for warmth or to stay dry. For years I wore a knit cap, but I found a good hat with ear flaps and visor that works better. I have a pair of thick waterproof gloves that are okay, but some people like thick wool gloves with waterproof mittens over them. For my short commute this works well in winter, but for a longer ride I would replace my cotton t-shirt with wool. I ordered the cycling pants from an online cycling shop in the US. They’re very compact, so when I get to the station I can strip them off and put them in a small backpack. Everything else came from outdoor shops, especially from Lodge on Oike Street in Kyoto. The mountain parka was very expensive, but I wear it a lot from November until March. I suppose the most important lessons I’ve learned in 33 years are that multiple layers are much better than heavy coats (I don’t have a down jacket now), expensive weatherproof outerwear is worth the money, and hands get cold unless you have really warm gloves. Fairly thick lined waterproof gloves work best. One nice thing about this choice of clothing is that you can ride in any kind of winter weather as long as the roads are clear of ice and snow, and it’s good for other outdoor activities in winter.

      For recreational cycling in cold weather I use dedicated cycling clothes: cold-weather cycling pants, long-sleeve wool undershirt (SmartWool), winter jersey, waterproof jacket, wool socks, and a winter beanie cap under my helmet. I don’t use cycling shoes with cleats, just lightweight waterproof (and windproof) trekking shoes. (I ride a steel touring bike on long rides.) The only problem with the clothing is that it’s expensive; however, it lasts a long time and it’s very comfortable as long as I keep moving. If I plan on stopping to take photos or something, I carry a down vest in a saddle bag. The only problem when it’s really cold (below 3 or 4 degrees C) is that my toes get cold after a while. I have not found a way to avoid that without spending more money or wearing heavier boots. Most of my cycling clothes came from online shops in the U.S. It’s been a few years since I’ve bought anything, but I remember that I read a lot of reviews and then spend several hundred dollars. The biggest disadvantage to dedicated cycling clothing is that, except for the waterproof cycling pants, it’s not much good for anything but cycling.

      One way to test the warm of your clothing is to stand around for a few minutes before you get on the bike. If you’re warm just standing, you’ll overheat while riding. Depending on how hard you ride, you need a lot less on top than you might imagine. With multiple layers you can strip off a middle layer and then put it back on when you stop for a while.

      I hope you find something helpful in all these words.

      Good luck!

      – Greg

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