‘Winter Bike Week’ encourages cyclists to ride during winter months

‘Winter Bike Week’ encourages cyclists to ride during winter months

When many of us think about hopping back on a bicycle, it’s usually at a time the weather is completely opposite; but knowing Wisconsin winters, that could take a while. The city of Madison is encouraging cyclists to get back on the bike paths before the snow melts through its “Winter Bike Week,” which began Friday.

“Winter bicycling is something a lot of people can do,” Arthur Ross, the city’s pedestrian and bicycle coordinator, said.

Over the past few years, Madison has become more accommodating to those who want to embrace the cold, Ross said.

“There’s enough people doing it that we make sure that the bike paths are plowed and facilities are available to people with bikes, so they can get to where they’re going and back home again,” Ross said.

Madison has always been known to provide a bike-friendly community year-round. Riders like Paulla Santos rely on their bike for transportation rain, snow, or shine, and appreciate the city’s hard work to make that daily trip easy.

“There’s a really good bike path system, so I definitely think we should take advantage of that all year,” Santos said.

However, before you take Santos’ advice, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

“Ride slower, (use) lower gears, (and be) a little more careful leaning with the turns,” Ross said.

Ross also recommends bright lights on both the front and back of the bicycle, studded tires, and bundling yourself up for a warmer ride.

“What I tend to wear is a pair of wind pants on the bottom, just whatever jacket I’m wearing on top, a hat under my helmet, and when it’s cold like today, I’ll have some kind of face mask,” Ross said. For longer distances, he suggests wearing fewer layers, especially if it’s above 20 degrees.

“The colder it is, the more you need, but you don’t want to over-dress. You’re going to warm up (and) produce a lot of heat pretty quickly,” he said.

These tips were especially important to share leading up to Winter Bike Week and the numerous outdoor events planned for the week.

The first event, a cycle race to Picnic Point and back, will be held Friday at 6:30 p.m. on Lake Mendota next to the Edgewater Hotel. Between 9 and 10 a.m. Saturday, Cargo Bike Shop is hosting the Casey Day family music event. Festivities continue Sunday during the Frozen Assets Festival at the Edgewater Hotel, which includes a bike sled pull for families.

On Monday, Lake Monona will provide the course for the MEAThead Ride, starting at 7 p.m. Riders can get their bicycles winterized at Revolution Cycles, which will host winter bike maintenance from 6 to 8 p.m. The UW Bicycle Resource Center will hold a bike traffic skills class Wednesday at Helen C. White Hall starting at noon. If you want to quench a thirst Thursday, ride around the lake to One Barrel Brewing. The fun begins at 6 p.m., meeting at Barriques on Park Street.

To the end the week of events, the Barriques 2 Barriques ride will begin at 6 a.m. next Fridayat the Barriques in Fitchburg.

For a full list of the week’s events, visit the Madison Bikes website.