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Winter biking tips--from winter bikers

December 20, 2012|By Erin Vogel @eringejuice | For RedEye

>> Stick to the main streets. Most of Chicago's main streets are good for winter riding even after a big snow because the city keeps them plowed for drivers. Resist the temptation to move to the sidewalks, which often are snowier and icier on bad days. "Do not move to the sidewalks," Rafael Suarez said. "You think it will be better, but it will just be worse." 

>> Pay attention to your tires.  Some riders recommend thicker, knobby tires to defeat the snow, and others prefer thinner tires to cut through the slush-- figure out what you're most comfortable with, and then ride accordingly. Suarez advises paying attention to the air pressure in your tires--if you can fill them up outside, you won't lose air pressure when you move your bike outside from your warm apartment.

>> Fenders and shower caps. Carmen Aiken said her experience biking without a fender was a nightmare. She said fenders are her No. 1 tip to keep your back dry from wet snow and slush that flies up from your tires while you ride. If your bike is fenderless, you can pick up a detachable fender for about $20 at your local bike shop. To keep your seat (and butt) dry, UIC student Meghan Lapeta recommends pulling a shower cap over your seat to keep your seat dry when you're leaving your bike outside on snowy days. Plastic bags work too.

>> Get involved. Get to know the riders you're passing on the streets on the cold days by participating in the many Bike Winter events around the city, such as the Bike Winter Art Show and the Chicago Bike Swap. Check out The Chainlink to chat with other winter riders or participate in the next Critical Mass on Dec. 28. "It's really nice to see all of your cycling buddies-- who aren't really your buddies--and feeling like, ‘It's cold, and we all parked our bikes outside!' " Aiken said.


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