How to ride your bike in winter (and enjoy it)
Many commuters who enjoy a bike ride in the summer sun think they must chain up their cycle when temps drop below freezing. That’s simply not the case. With proper preparation, cycling in Chicago’s winter weather can actually be more enjoyable at times than riding in the summer. RedEye turned to four biking veterans for advice:
Dave Glowacz: Known as “Mr. Bike,” the 59 -year-old Logan Square resident wrote the book “Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips.” He has been cycling year-round for 25 years.
Kristin Fogarty-Yi: The 37-year-old Edgewater Beach resident has been cycling year-round in Chicago for 10 years.
Curt Preissner: The West Loop resident, 43, has been cycling in the winter for 10 years.
Yasmeen Schuller: President of The Chainlink, an online cycling community, she has been winter cycling in the city for five years.
For more on how to pedal year-round, check out Bike Winter ( bikewinter.org), an all-volunteer project that began in Chicago in 1999.
What to wear
Schuller: “Merino wool is great for winter biking because it absorbs moisture, keeping your skin dry while you ride and dries quickly, which is important for the ride home. Cotton can get sweaty and doesn’t dry out fast.” Glowacz: “... Add T-shirts, light sweaters, long underwear and tights. ... When it’s very cold, many bikers don’t need much insulation on torsos and legs but need more on ears (using headbands, hoods, face masks), hands (using mittens), and feet (using multiple socks, rubber boots) where blood flows less.”
Bicycle prep, maintenance
Fogarty-Yi: “I try to wash the salt off my bike ... I keep the chain lubed and replace the brake pads if needed because the sand and salt really wear down the pads and rust out the moving parts ...” Schuller: “If you are concerned about slippery roads, you may want to invest in studded tires. Some cyclists love studded tires to keep upright when riding in icy and slippery conditions.” Preissner: “Use lights at all times, flashing white in front and flashing red in back—brighter is better. Riding with lights is a very good practice [any time] of the year, but it becomes more important in the winter with fewer, shorter daylight hours and precipitation.”