Biking on anything less than a perfect summer’s day is strange for me. Growing up, I had a bike but it was only for recreational purposes and only came out on sunny days. In Oulu, it is quite a different matter.
My bike, Liewe Heksie, is my main form of transportation in Oulu. Also, sunny days are few and far between. So I have had to adapt to my climate and learn some new tricks which I will share here.
Rain: It’s not actually as bad as you may feel it is (especially if you come from a culture like I do where, at the first drop of rain, you decide the only activity you can do is watch movies at home with hot chocolate). Just wear the right waterproof clothing (quality, quality, quality – or a just few well placed black plastic bags will be fine). Make sure you are wearing your gumboots and your mud guards are working and you are a for away! If it turns into freezing rain, just makes your extremities are covered.
Ice: Biking on ice is the worst form of biking for me. If I’m biking over ice, most of the time I’m walking/sliding over ice and pushing my bike. It freaks me out. This is because biking on ice is difficult on many levels: it is slippery and breaking just means my bike goes sideways; fear of falling on the hard ice is a clear and present danger; the ice is not always smooth, sometimes its lumpy and really a pain to bike over – its like biking over small boulders.
The obvious answer is to get a helmet and wheels with studs in them. Well, I just get off my bike to walk/slide and push. If it’s really bad, I bike in the road with cars (when it has no cars in it).
Slush: If you don’t know what slush is, it’s melting snow and half frozen water that gives the snow the consistency of a Slush Puppy drink. If you don’t know what a Slush Puppy is, I can’t help you any more than that. This is just irritating to bike on. It hides the ice bumps so that you can get a really big fright going over one unexpectantly. It does not have the “get out the way” factor that water has, not is it predictable like snow. It also builds up in your mud guards which is just silly.
I just bike a bit slower than normal and try to ride in the tracks through the slush that previous riders have made.
Snow: Ah, snow, my favourite form of precipitation…and no less so for biking. I should probably give a small clarification here. My experience of biking on snow has been on the beautifully manicured bike paths of Oulu. I’m not sure how you can bike through thick snow. Anyways snow is a bit slippery but not so bad. It compacts well and it feels a bit like how I would imagine biking on wet sand that has a solid thing underneath it might feel.
I tend to also bike slower in snow, corners will get you bad if you don’t focus but I might also go slower because I am just lost in wonder at the beauty of snow and snowy views. I’m soppy that way. Biking the falling snow is so much fun but getting snowflakes in your eyes can be dangerous so watch out for that.
So, the long and the short of it? Don’t let the weather stop you biking in Oulu.