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Biking in winter

Biking in winter

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Oct. 20, 2010 at 7:09 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Cycling in the winter isn't as dangerous as many people think. At least, REI Salt Lake sales and product expert John Higgins thinks so. He says there are times when he feels better on his bike during the winter than he would on a busy road in a car.

"(I was) staying off roads with high levels of traffic. (There were) less slide outs. I could poke along and actually feel a little safer being on the bike than I did in the car with people sliding out everywhere around me," he says.

Winter Biking Class
  • Tues. Nov. 9
  • REI Salt Lake store
    3285 E. 3300 South
    Salt Lake City
  • 7 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Seating reserved for people that pre-register. Seating will then be offered to those unregistered and waiting.
  • More info: here

Higgins says, with a few modifications, cycling is pretty easy in the winter. He says riders need to make a few small changes to their clothing to keep their extremities warm.

"It's really about (having) a wind barrier and keeping the extremities warm because they suffer from cold the quickest and the soonest," he explains.

He says many people may overcompensate for the wind chill and cold air. Riders might bundle up too much then sweat. That could lead to serious frostbite problems later.

"If you lose dexterity in your fingers, you're losing control of gears, braking and handling of the bike," he points out.

You may also need to change which roads you take. The major roads get plowed first, and the back-road shortcuts you're used to won't be a shortcut with snow on the ground.

"I'm more likely to use a more major road in winter because it has had the plows run over it a lot sooner than some of the quieter, back-neighborhood streets," he says.

Even though he says riding can be safe even when there is snow on the ground, the risk of falling is still a very real possibility. Higgins says he typically wipes out about once every winter. But he wants to remind everyone who does want to take their bike to work during the cold months that they shouldn't ride on a day that they think may be too challenging. If there's a blizzard, he says it's perfectly fine to take the bus.

Also, he says you should never try to ride over black ice. If you see it, get off the bike and walk.

He's teaching a class on winter riding on Nov. 9.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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