Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 17, 2013

Tips for winter biking


— The new “fat-tire” bikes are especially made for snow and sandy beaches, but you don’t need to shell out big bucks to ride your bike in the winter, cyclists said.

Winter biking isn’t as cold as it looks if you dress appropriately and “layer up” on those days when polar winds and windchills kick thermometers to sub-zero levels.

Ross Hammersley, who bought a used biked for $50 on Craigslist this winter for winter riding, generally wears long johns, rain paints, T-shirt, a fleece and shell jacket, gloves, fleece hat and helmet. On extra cold days, he adds a balaclava under his helmet.

Andrew Cuchetti wears a hoodie and winter coat plus a military surplus neck and face scarf on cold days. This winter he picked up a pair of target practice goggles to raise visibility and protect his eyes from arctic winds.

Bike commuter Kate Redman wears a wind- and waterproof jacket, boots and often, a lined wool skirt or casual business suit over leggings on days she has to do courtroom work.

Many winter bicyclists, especially the commuters, use “beater” bikes because road salt, sand and weather are hard on both cycles and chains.

Here are some tips offered by local winter cycling enthusiasts and bike store owners.

- Ride on neighborhood streets and plowed alleys rather than busy thoroughfares. Don’t try to ride on U.S. 31 north and south of town. Use sections of the TART Trail system that volunteers keep open.

- Both motorists and bicyclists need to remember that many roads lose shoulder space and bike lanes during plowing. Bicycles and cars have the same legal right to use the road. Know and follow state road rules.

- A fender over the back wheel helps protect your back from wet spray.

- Be visible and wear bright clothing or safety vests. Don’t wear black. Ride defensively.

- Wear well insulated waterproof gloves or invest in “lobster gloves” attached to your handlebars.

- Warm boots are recommended.

For more information on the TART recreation trails or to learn how to volunteer or support the trails, visit traversetrails.org or call 941-4300.

— Loraine Anderson