By Ginger Canon, active transportation manager, Sustainability Office
Utah’s climate is fantastic for year-round bicycling. Don’t let the colder weather stop you from riding to stay happy, healthy and upright while triumphing over the elements. Research shows you’re less likely to succumb to the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when you exercise regularly outdoors, and you’ll be ready to log those hard-earned miles during February’s Clear the Air Challenge!
Some tips for your winter bike commute:
1) Start with what you’ve got and find what works for you. There are two big misconceptions about winter bike commuting – one, you need a bunch of expensive gear and two, that you’ll freeze out there (actually, you’ll probably overheat!). You just need a few basics and a little time spent on trial and error to see what works for you. Fenders make a huge difference in keeping you dry, and wider, knobby tires can help keep you upright in the rain and snow.
2) Master the layers. Remember your face, feet and hands need the most protection, as those parts of your body get cold faster. You should always be slightly cold before you start your commute – you’ll warm up fast! Experiment with building layers to understand what works at different temperatures and keeps you warm and dry on your bike.
3) Light up. Be seen, be safe. Winter days are short and front and rear lights are required (by Utah law) for a safe commute in the morning or evening darkness.
4) Protect your lungs. On bad air days, wear an air pollution mask to filter the toxic emissions coming from vehicles sharing the road with you.
5) Park your bike in a covered, secure bike room. The U offers a number of secure bicycle parking spaces. Check out the map of secure bicycle parking for locations and contacts to access each area.
6) You arrived. Now what? If you don’t have a shower at your destination, pack some wet wipes and deodorant – a little time in front of the bathroom mirror will do wonders, and you’ll find yourself humble bragging for braving the elements while others forsake their winter fitness.