How to ride your bike in winter (and en­joy it)

Red Eye Chicago - - The Chatter - Rianne Coale

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.”

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