Is winter time in Wisconsin time to put away the bicycle? Not necessarily. “So many of us in Wisconsin feel such cabin fever during these long winter months,” says Amanda White with the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. “If you bike to work or go for a quick bike in the evenings, it’s a great way to get a little fresh air and a little exercise.” Exercise that can help us during a time of year when it’s common to pack on a few extra pounds.
White says there’s a misconception that you have to spend a ton of money on special winter cycling gear. “That’s just not true. If you make sure to wear layers – not your heavy winter coat – you have a good set of lights and some thicker tires, you should do just fine in the winter,” she says. A good pair of mittens or gloves is also a must. “Your hands and face are the first things to get cold in the winter, and that can be miserable,” explains White. “So a good set of gloves, and also a way to keep your face warm. Whether it’s a special biking mask or just even a scarf, keeping your face warm is very important. And of course, always wear a helmet year-round.” One other idea: a good set of fenders can keep the off the slop during those commutes to and from work.
And if you’re concerned about using your expensive road bike to commute through the snow and road salt, White suggests secondhand options. “Mountain bikes are good options for winter biking. Some of the hybrid bikes are also good options,” she says. On-line classifieds can be a good place to shop for that winter beater bike. One more note, on the importance of lights. “Some people who are primarily biking in the warm months forget that it does get dark sometimes as early as 5:00 in the winter, so it’s important to have a good front light, as well as the red back light, so that drivers can see you in both directions.”
Bob Hague (:60) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60 MP3)