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Top Tips to Bike Boise's Streets all Winter Long

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Boise, Idaho is one of the most bike-friendly cities around with over 100 miles of bike lanes, nearly that of Chicago! People love to ride their bikes, particularly on the Ridge to Rivers Trail System and around Boise's Northend, the official mountain and touring bike headquarters in the Treasure Valley.

In fact, Boise, Idaho is number 9 on the list of U.S. cities with the most bicycle commuters at 3.9 percent, beating San Francisco and Seattle.

For many people, commuting to work on a bicycle is a joy, they save money and get a workout. But when the cold weather season rears its sometimes-ugly head, commuting on a bike is suddenly wrought with new potential hazards.

Boise bikers don't need to fret too much though, as Boise has a relatively mild winter climate, but for even the worst of days, there are things you can do to stack the odds of success in your favor. Here's a list of ten tips in no particular order to make winter riding feasible and more enjoyable.

No. 1 In snowy conditions, traction is a top priority. Avoid using narrow tires. Instead, stick with a wider tire with widely separated knobs. On ice, the idea is to get as much area of contact between the tire and the road.

No. 2 Studded bike tires can be an excellent option for avoiding a slip and fall. It's not unheard of for creative cyclists to make their own. If you do slip and fall, the good news is that road rash in these conditions is practically unheard of with the extra clothing you'll be wearing and a slippery surface to land on.

According to bicyclinglife.com, it can be a good idea to have two bikes, one equipped with studded tires and another equipped for wet weather when it's above freezing.

No. 3 Let some air out of your tires. If you ride them soft, you'll get better grip.

No. 4 Accessorize with reflectors and lights. Outfit your bike with both a rear reflector, preferably one that flashes, as well as a front light. It wouldn't hurt to wear a headlamp to illuminate the path ahead, either.

No. 5 It's important to keep your bike in tip-top shape. Part of doing that is to keep your bike dry and out of the rain. If your bike does get wet, ensure that the brakes and gears are in good working order.

No. 6 Layering is the key to staying warm and managing sweat in the cold. For biking, wear a moisture wicking base layer followed by an insulating fleece or something similar for the mid-layer, topped off by a waterproof and windproof shell jacket. For your legs, try tights beneath a shell pant. But if you feel warm as you start out, you've likely overdressed for any ride longer than a half hour.

No. 7 To avoid getting soaked, fenders is a must for keeping slush and water at bay.

No. 8 Relax your upper body and pedal smoothly, especially on ice and soft snow. If you feel yourself going sideways, make small corrections rather than oversteering. It's natural to get anxious in certain conditions, but according to bicycling.com, stay seated and center your weight over the bottom bracket.

No. 9 Move your bike with your entire body. Steer wide and twist with your hips to perform turns.

No. 10 If your commute is too long or laborious in the snow, opt for public transit. Many buses in Boise carry racks capable of holding up to two bikes, and with the increase of demand, more are adding three-bike racks on some of the larger buses.

Contact us anytime to talk more about Idaho living at (208) 571-7145.

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