Readers’ Forum: Break the seasonal cycle

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Otis, resident dog of Provo Bicycle Collective, poses for a photo at the shop. To quote the director of the local Provo Bicycle Collective, Kira Johnson, who has been cycling to work year-round since 2016, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  (Georgia McGrath)

To quote the director of the local Provo Bicycle Collective, Kira Johnson, who has been cycling to work year-round since 2016, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  

For most of us who rely on cars with four-wheel drive to get around in the snowy season, biking to school or work is a commute we’d never dream of. But Kira begs to differ and claims that riding in the winter may be just what your festive season is missing.

Good for your physical and mental health during the darker months, biking offers space to clear your mind, keep active and overcome the elements. 

When investing in gear for winter riding, the key is prioritizing warmth for the areas that lose heat the quickest — namely the head, fingers, and toes. Kira recommends thoughtful outfit choices with wool taking center stage.

For the hands, ski gloves work great, and for the feet, ditch the sneakers and opt for waterproof boots with fluffy or thermal socks underneath. Kira couldn’t stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet when riding especially in winter and told us a helmet with a beanie underneath is a great way to keep yourself cozy while commuting.  

So that’s got you covered, but what about the bike? First things first, light it up and make yourself visible to others on the road! Once that’s taken care of, invest in a mudguard, unless of course, you enjoy the feeling of cold snow spraying up your back.

To offset the probability of minor falls, swap out your tires for those with a thicker tread such as mountain bike tires.

Many wrongly assume that a bike needs studded tires to get around in the Utah winter, but that’s not necessary unless you’re up in the mountains exploring. Mountain bike tires with thicker tread, available for purchase at Provo Bicycle Collective, do just the trick at half the cost, creating more friction to prevent you from slipping in the snow.

By following this advice, Kira herself hasn’t slipped on the snow or ice in her whole-time commuting to the shop, even when with the shop’s favorite furry friend, two-year-old Otis, jumping around and wagging his tail in the front. 

So, let’s say you’ve implemented the safety recommendations and made your way to college safely but you turn up and there are no covered areas for you to rack up your bike. A good way to protect it is to pack a lightweight tarp cover for when you’re in class.

Kira also advocates lubricating the chain of your bike so that it doesn’t rust with the excess moisture in the air. Inevitably, salt makes its
way onto the roads and sidewalks during the winter and that gets picked up on your ride too, so give your bike a good scrub with soap and water to prevent any salts from eating at the metal.  

If Kira’s winter cycling tips weren’t enough to convince you that commuting by bike during the winter should deserve some thought, head down to Provo Bicycle Collective and take part in their winter riding safety course featuring expert advice and on-site mechanical help.

Georgia McGrath
-Yorkshire, England

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