I've heard people say "you will never make it through your first winter, just ride as long as you can"
my commute was about 45-50 minutes round trip, so it wasnt really that bad.
well i did make it, i missed two days this winter. it was one of the coldest and most brutal that i can remember. we had tons of snow and it was below zero for a solid month. maybe it was an average winter and i was just up close and personal with it all season that it seemed worse than normal, i dunno.
i rode a rigid single speed 26'' mtb with disc brakes all winter. this next winter i am going to use both of my wheel sets. i am going to get a set of super fat DH tires, 2.5-2.7 inches for snow (i have plenty of clearance) and a nice set of studded tires. perhaps make my own.
i found that i did not need studded tires 90% of the time, they salt so much where i live that i was dealing with either lots of snow or clean pavement.
i am not going to use fenders this next winter, i will wear my rain pants over my work uniform.
i am not going to go single speed this winter, i went back to 27 speed. the granny gear will be of much help in deeper snow.
buy a chain scrubber and use it every day. plan on replacing your chain too. keep it lubed. use good lube, not stuff that will attract lots of sand like i did.
my 29er performed very well in the snow because it has unusually short chain stays, i got excellent traction because so much weight was centered over the rear wheel.
sun glasses are better than goggles most of the time.
i only went down twice this last winter, i did not get hurt either time. being a mountain biker i am used to spilling and got pretty good at it. riding on ice and snow taught me a lot of stuff that i am using on the trails this season.
clothing wasnt that much of an issue, i had it figured out after the first month or so. my advice would to wear as much clothing as possible and take a piece off each day until you figure out your comfort zone.
chewing *** helped me take the edge off of the cold air entering my mouth. my nose always ran so i was forced to breathe through my mouth a lot.
steel toed shoes are surprisingly very very warm, or atleast mine were. i wore ice fishing gloves underneath a pair of snowmobile gloves, my hands sweated most of the time. i carried my balaclava in my coat pocket all the time, even if i thought i did not need it the wind could shift and ruin my ride.
i put lotion on my face every day, i used to put vitamin E oil on my eye lids before every ride so they would not get chapped.
i had a surprising amount of fun riding last winter, i stayed in shape, and everybody thought i was insane. i got really used to cold weather and enjoyed it. it was more of a mental challenge than physical. i realized that i love that kind of stuff, thriving off of adversity and what have you