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A Guide For Winter Biking

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by Kyle Strayer

The winter season is in full force this year in Utah, with above-average snowfall and chilly temps all along the Wasatch Front.

You might think all this snow means the end of biking season, but with just a few changes in your habits, you can continue to travel on two wheels year-round.

Read on for our guide to staying safe, warm, and happy while commuting or riding for fun during the colder months:

Choose the right bike. That aluminum-frame road bike might not be your best bet on a winter day. Salt and sand can do a number on bike parts so choosing an older bike specifically for winter use is a good strategy. You can find used bikes at the SLC Bicycle Collective along with other materials such as fenders, platform pedals, thicker tires, and bike lights.

Keep your bike cold in the garage. Ice can form more easily on the breaks and gears when a bike that has been kept at room temperature is taken out in the cold. However, if you store your bike in the cold, make sure to keep the chain well-lubricated.

Fat tires. Snow and ice patches can be treacherous at this time of year, and none of us likes to take a fall. To minimize that risk, use tires with more surface area or studs to keep your bike from slipping out. You may not break any land speed records with heavier, thicker tires, but slow and steady wins the race during the winter commute.

Be seen! This is one of the most critical steps for winter biking safety because drivers may not be expecting cyclists in cold weather. Always ride with lights and reflective clothing. Slap some reflective stickers on your helmet and consider a reflective neon vest that can be purchased at home repair stores.

Stay warm.  The key is to layer. If it’s below freezing, wear wool layers, shoe covers, waterproof pants, gloves, a beanie under the helmet, and a mask to stay warm. Always check the weather and look out for winter storm warnings. Utah weather can change at any time!

On bad air days wear a mask with a PM2.5 filter. These are relatively inexpensive items that can be found online or at local retailers.

Use GreenBikeSLC. Our local bike share program now runs during the winter months! Click here for details and a map of station locations.

Encourage others. A larger group of bikers is easier to spot and makes riding safer. Plus it will motivate you to get out and ride more, perhaps sticking to those New Year’s exercise resolutions a little longer…!

Use with transit. Augment your trip to get further with public transit, as you can take a bike on UTA buses, Trax, and FrontRunner.

Be environmentally-conscious. You don’t have to give up your car, but try biking once a week. We all know air quality is a big problem in Utah. Each of us has a part to play in reducing our pollution, and biking is a great way to do so.

Have fun out there! If you have any tips we missed, let us know in the comments!

For further inspiration, check out this video below from a seasoned biker in Minneapolis

 

 

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