Join cyclists across the state to brave the elements for Colorado Winter Bike to Work Day on Friday, February 10. Fortunately, the Grand Valley has mild winters, making it a great time for both seasoned cyclists and new bike commuters to get out and ride. If you are new to commuting, try doing some exploratory rides and find a route you feel comfortable with. Riders with long distances or safety concerns could consider biking a portion of the trip; find a public parking area within a few miles and bike the remaining stretch. Another option is to use Grand Valley Transit for part of the trip, bikes ride free. Folks who work from home or don't work at all can still participate; try biking to a favorite local business, neighborhood parks, recreation areas, or running errands on a bike. Octopus Coffee will be offering a special deal to those who pedal in on February 10, riders can choose from a free drink or a free burrito, just for bike commuting.
Before you ride, check your bike! Test the brakes, make sure the bike seat and handle bars are properly adjusted, and check the air pressure. During the winter months, bike cleaning should be part of the ride, especially when riding in wet, snowy, or muddy conditions. Rinse the bike if needed, use dish soap for extra grime, remove dirt and debris, wipe it down, thoroughly clean the chain with an old rag (t-shirts work great), and use chain lube.
Winter Biking Tips
Dress for the weather, layer for warmth, but avoid bulky clothing. For the upper body, use a moisture-wicking base layer and add a vest, light fleece, or shell for the next layer. The lower extremities should be warm enough with one layer; whether you choose tights or jeans is a personal preference. Make sure the hands, feet, and ears are warm; pick gloves that you can still easily grip the brakes with, wool socks, and a buff or thin hat that can fit comfortably under a helmet. Check out the latest podcast for layering tips.
Gear up to be seen! Remember that there are fewer daylight hours during the winter months, it is important to use front and rear bike lights, plus it is the law. Using lights is more about being seen than being able to see, but adding a headlamp can be helpful to see your pathway when biking in the dark. Reflective and bright colored clothing are also helpful, this helps drivers to see riders from a further distance.
Although snowy and icy roads are uncommon here in the valley, it is still important to know how to winterize your riding tactics. In the event of heavy snowfall, the bike lanes and curb areas might be full of snow and debris; in this case take up the lane and bike in the middle of the right-hand lane. Stay relaxed, keeping elbows and knees bent and loose, which allows for the body to absorb any extra friction going over snowy and rough sections. Stay alert and watch for slick sections, especially shady spots that may not melt. Check out this short video from Denver Council of Regional Governments (DRCOG).