Local cyclists share strategies for biking in the winter

The president of Think Bicycles Johnson County shared tips for winter biking at a seminar on Nov. 2.


Courtney Hawkins

Geoff’s Bike and Ski Shop is shown on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

Biting cold and snowy conditions are no problem for some bikers in the area, but dropping temperatures push many others off the roads.

Anne Duggan, the president of Think Bicycles Johnson County, gave a seminar on Nov. 8 focused on winter biking. Duggan showed the proper equipment and riding techniques necessary for winter biking.

Duggan said she gave the talk in order to encourage people to keep riding in the winter.

“I do think it’s healthier to spend time outside, even in the winter,” she said.

Biking in the winter doesn’t have to be hard, she said, but it requires a different approach. Even without ice or snow, leftover sand on the roads can be a hazard for bikers.

“People just have to realize they can take it slow,” she said.

An important part of winter biking is having the proper equipment, Duggan said. At the seminar, she showed some equipment that casual bikers may not be aware of.

Bar mitts are large, mitten-like covers that attach to the handlebars of a bike to keep the rider’s hands warm. Duggan said shoe covers are also useful to keep the rider’s feet warm and shoes clean.

Dressing in layers is also important, Duggan said. As temperatures can be volatile in the winter, it is important that riders be prepared for shifting weather.

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Iowa City buses have bike racks that riders can take advantage of if the weather becomes too dangerous to ride in, Duggan said. However, with the proper preparation and equipment, she said, riders will be fine most of the time.

“Except for very few days a year, there’s really nothing to be afraid of in the winter,” she said.

Theresa Klingenberg, a member of Think Bicycles Johnson County, rides her bike to work nearly every day, even in the winter.

Klingenberg said a big reason that people don’t ride their bikes in the winter is that biking is seen as an exercise or leisure activity rather than a major mode of transportation.

“If there’s a shift in thinking to thinking of it as transportation and a lifestyle, then you just prepare,” she said.

Klingenberg said the Iowa City Bike Library is a great resource for riders in the winter. It has bike stands that riders can rent, giving access to equipment to clean their bikes and volunteers available to help beginners with maintenance.

The Bike Library is also a great resource for equipment, Duggan said. It sells used equipment at a discount price, and it also offers six-month bike rentals.

Biking in snowy weather is a unique experience, Klingenberg said. Her ride to work goes along the river, and she said she enjoys experiencing nature on her rides.

“Iowa City is a beautiful city, and riding through new snow is magical,” she said.

Snow-covered trails are not a problem, either, she said. The city clears off most major bike trails in the winter.

UI freshman Micah Culpepper, who rides his bike to class every day, said he plans to continue in the winter. While he plans to use his bike to get to class, he said, he doesn’t plan to ride his bike recreationally in the winter.

“You have to do a lot more prep, like bundling up and trying to stay warm,” he said.