As the old cliché goes: if you don’t like the weather in Nova Scotia, just wait five minutes. The unpredictability of our weather keeps things interesting year-round, and of course winter is no exception. From nor’easter storms to unexpected snow, sleet, and rain, Nova Scotians get a little bit of everything from November through March (and beyond!). But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to ride your bike all year.

Riding your bike during the winter can provide huge boosts to your mental and physical well-being. While your friends and family may think you’re strange for insisting on riding in the freezing cold, it’s easy to continue cycling with the right preparation. With a little bit of planning, winter cycling in Nova Scotia is not only possible, but extremely rewarding.

Even you (yes, you!) can cycle in the winter in Nova Scotia. Here are some tips from Bicycle Nova Scotia for how you can continue to ride your bike through the winter. 

Follow the Rules of the Road

First and foremost: ensuring your own safety and the safety of all road users is important year-round. Winter cycling in Nova Scotia presents its own set of challenges, so it’s essential to remember to always follow the rules of the road. Need a safety refresher? Check out the Nova Scotia Bicycle Safety brochure (PDF)

Bicycle Nova Scotia also offers insurance coverage for members, giving you peace of mind to know you’re covered in case of an accident. 

How to Dress for Winter Cycling in Nova Scotia

Start your ride cool

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a good idea to start your winter rides a little bit chilly. Your body generates a tonof heat when you ride your bike, particularly during more challenging efforts (think that one hill climb on your route that you love to hate). You’ll want to make sure you don’t overheat and soak your underlayers with sweat before you arrive at your destination, so try to avoid that heavy-duty winter coat you wear when off your bike.

Layer up

A good base layer made of wool or water-wicking synthetic fabric is important in cold conditions. Use this as your foundation and build your cycling outfit from there, adding layers that will trap in heat but not moisture. For your outermost layer, you’ll likely want something waterproof to deal with the wet snow and rain, but make sure this is also breathable. By wearing several layers, you can unzip or remove any if you begin to feel like you’re overheating.

Cover up

When riding in the warmer seasons, your bare skin is exposed to the sun and warm air. When winter cycling, you’ll want to ensure these parts are protected from the cold wind. You’ll also need under-helmet protection for your head and ears (and face, depending on how cold it is), gloves to protect your hands, and longer pants or tights for your legs. Depending on road conditions, you may also wish to wear waterproof covers for your cycling shoes.

(Hey, they’re not winter-specific, but here’s a friendly reminder that Bicycle Nova Scotia sells stylish cycling socks that can help you show off your Nova Scotia pride while you ride!)

Think breathability 

Natural fibres like wool wick moisture away from your body to keep you warm but not sweaty. Merino wool is especially prized by cyclists for its lightweight warmth and breathability. There are also lots of synthetic fabric options that focus on keeping your body dry and warm. Try to avoid cotton in cold weather if you can. While breathable and natural, cotton tends to get wet and will not keep you warm as effectively as wool or other water-wicking fabrics.

Be seen!

Bike lights are an absolute must for the shorter days and longer nights of winter cycling. But take some time to consider how you might make your body more visible to other road users as well. High visibility outer layers can help you be seen from further away in snowy, rainy, or dark conditions. Remember that drivers may also be less likely to look out for cyclists in the winter, since there are fewer of us on the road. 


Check in with the cycling experts at your local bike shop for cold weather clothing recommendations. 

Looking for more Nova Scotia cycling tips?

Follow Bicycle Nova Scotia on social media for the latest cycling news, information, and tips. 






Photo by Nikita Ignatev on Unsplash