10 Tips for Riding in Coeur d’Alene Idaho During Winter
Riding a bicycle in the winter around Coeur d’Alene can be tricky and not just because of colder temperatures and snow! It gets darker earlier (like 4PM earlier), snowplowing creates piles of snow that narrow streets, and bike lanes are not on the snow removal workers list of to do’s (it is usually where the piles of snow go).
But not all is lost! If you choose the right clothing and bicycle equipment, riding can be comfortable and an efficient way to get around. While vehicles are stuck spinning on the ice or are in slow-moving traffic, you can still be getting where you need to go at a steady pace. Here are 10 tips to help with wintertime cycling in Coeur d’Alene (Also be sure to check out the sidebar on the right for Rules of the Road and other helpful tips):
1. Bike trails in the area are usually plowed, when the bike lanes (and some city streets) are not. The reason for this is they are typically maintained by homeowners associations, or private non-profit organizations. These organizations set aside funds to maintain the trails or have contracts with other companies/agencies/organizations/cities to keep them clear. If you can map out a route using bike trails it will make getting around town easier. But always keep in mind that during heavy snowfall clearing even the bike trails might not be possible. (See Number 10 for more information)
2. Watch out for drivers! Cars are not always watching for bikers in the summer and that lack of awareness doubles in the winter. Plus, during icy conditions even a driver with the best intentions who sees you can find themselves sliding uncontrollably on the ice.
3. Choose the right ride. A Fat Bike with wide tires will get you through snow ruts or other winter obstacles that would stop another bike in its tracks. Single speed bicycles have less moving parts which can be damaged by salt and sand that is commonly put on winter roadways. Opt to ride an older bicycle you own so you don’t add wear and tear to your favorite road or mountain bike. There are even some recumbent bicycles that are coming with fat tires!
4. Purchasing a Fat Bike not in the budget this year? Go for studded tires they will increase traction on snow and ice.
5. You don’t want your brakes or gears to freeze, so storing your bicycle in your garage or other storage area that is cold is best.
6. Cleaning and lubing your bicycle is even more important during winter months. Suggested things to do are: Clean the chain weekly, brush off rims and brake pads after every ride, wipe off any water and lube as needed.
7. If it is possible add fenders to your bicycle. It will keep you cleaner and keep some of the road grime off of other bikes parts except your wheels. I found a homemade option online: Make a fender for the front by cutting a plastic 2-liter bottle in half lengthwise then mount with zip-ties.
8. When it comes to how to dress, layer, layer, and layer! For your top half choose a wicking base layer, add an insulating layer (example fleece top), then top it all off with a waterproof jacket. For the bottom half wear pants or jeans covered by a wind shell pant, or for longer rides opt for bike tights or shorts over long underwear topped with shell pants. For your hands choose mittens instead of gloves or visit your local bicycle shop for the latest hand warming gear. And…don’t forget your head! Best option is a tight-fitting skull-cap that will fit under your bicycle helmet. For casual rides you can probably even get more creative and fashionable with what you wear, just make sure you layer appropriately.
9. Because winter also means less daylight a good set of bicycle lights should be a priority. I personally would find battery operated ones that take Double or Triple A batteries. They are easier to maintain and packing a few extra batteries doesn’t take up much space.
10. Be prepared with alternate route options before you set out for your ride. During heavy snowfall the snowplows will focus on main streets which could leave secondary streets impassable by bicycle. Having a back up plan or two will take some of the stress out of your ride just in case you run into an obstacle on your original route.
So you see…riding in the winter is an option that doesn’t take too much more work on your part. Besides, isn’t a big part of the excitement of riding experiencing something new and different. During the winter every day can be a bicycling adventure!
Looking for a fun group ride this winter? Check out these coming up in February.
Fat Tuesday February Bike Rides
We’ll meet at Strada Caffe’ between 4:30p and 5pm each Tuesday in February and get a beverage and plan our route. Kelly’s Irish Pub & Grill will have live music each Tuesday and Daft Badger Brewery will have a seasonal brew to to keep your hydration up. Enjoy a meal at either stop or just hydrate the evening. Route map on Strava