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Bike Winter Puts Cyclists on Ice

by Lindi Horton Nov 12, 2010
Biking season doesn’t end with the first snow.

BIKE WINTER CLAIMS every day is a great day to ride a bike. Originally founded in 1999 in Chicago, the grassroots group is made up of local bicycle commuters, anti-car activists, and weekend warriors who promote cycling throughout the Chicago winter, which lasts 181 days on average, 65% of those with low temperatures hovering around 21 F.

As temperatures in nearly half of the 15 Bike Friendly Cities begin their annual migration south, some bicycle commuters hibernate. Others continue cycling through rain, sleet, and snow. However, harrowing stories like riding home through the Blizzard of ’99 are the exception rather than the rule. Most commuters outline the key benefits of cycling like arriving to work alert, warm, and having lower stress levels.

Proper attire alleviates a lot of concerns of riding in freezing temperatures and icy conditions. Cycling to work creates enormous body heat; in fact, most novice winter cyclists make the mistake of dressing too warmly. Avoiding cotton but using synthetics or wool help remove moisture from the body. For the outer layers, windproof jackets with breathable sides and backs create a warm way to ensure heat is not trapped inside clothing. Eye protection and helmets are highly recommended.

Another cardinal rule of road cycling is to be seen. Year-round cyclists ensure that this by accesorizing with reflective strips, blinking lights, and head lamps. IceBike conducted a survey where 71% of the respondants replied that their worst accident was either none or a minor fall without injury. Holly Rhode’s blog, sponsored by Bike Winter, chronicles her initiation into cycling through her first winter cycling.

From questions regarding hydration to ensuring proper cycling maintence during winter months, seasoned icebikers advise people to be bold but take precautions when cycling in the ice or snow. Depending on weather conditions, wide, studded tires may be needed to create more traction. Experimentation with various bike features and riding techniques should get you some amusing comments from friends.

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