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 gun 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