Winter bicycling heats up around Anchorage, UAA

Winter biking is becoming a prominent feature around not just the UAA campus, but the city of Anchorage itself. Green enthusiasts are trading gas pumps for air pumps and are beginning to purchase studded tires for their bicycles to prepare for the icy sidewalks.

“For the first time in my life, I’m going to ride my bike all winter,” UAA student Renata Ballesteros said. “I’m investing in a pair of studded tires and am going to bundle up everyday and brave the cold. I’m actually really excited!”

It is becoming more and more common to see students biking across campus to get to class on time. As the push for an all-around healthy lifestyle becomes increasingly popular, city pedals are seemingly pushing simultaneously.

Campus bike racks can get so jam-packed with bikes that students often opt to lock up onto trashcans or light poles.

“I’ve never seen these racks so crowded,” UAA student Walker Burgett said. “I’ve been riding my bike to classes for a long time and am surprised at the amount of fellow bikers I’ve come across lately.”

Bicycles are becoming a staple on the Anchorage throughways partly due to the rise in traffic, especially during rush hour, and the availability of winter bike clinics in the community. Traveling by two wheels is often quicker than trekking across town in a vehicle, and although it’s a bit chillier with the wind in your face rather than on your windshield, the benefits of braving the cold and biking year round are substantial.

“I rode my bike all fall and feel so much healthier than I did when I walked everywhere,” Ballesteros said. “Biking is an excellent cross-training workout.”

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One of the most crippling elements of winter is the dark. This trademark quirk of Alaska, when coupled with freezing temperatures and icy paths, can be a most uncomfortable combination. Thankfully, however, there are solutions to every physiological winter roadblock.

Perhaps the most essential piece of winter bike attire is a proper jacket. Down-fill jackets are some of the toastiest winter items on the market, and coupled with a pair of fleece mittens, there is no excuse not to ride.

Bikers, or any Alaskan winter resident for that matter, should always carry a proper hat and gloves during those dreary winter months.

Businesses such as REI and locally owned and operated Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking provide top of the line clothing and attire to stay warm, dry and as comfortable as possible during a frigid bike ride.

The Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage (BCA) is a local bicycle club who provides bicycle tips, events and forums to help further inform and inspire the Anchorage community. The group is one of the foremost driving forces behind the Anchorage Bicycle Plan.

The Bicycle Plan is a detailed plan to help enhance the general health of Anchorage citizens, ensue the safety of bicycle commuters on the busy city streets and provide an economically sustainable mode of transportation.

The BCA will hold a free Winter Bike Commuting Clinic on Thursday, October 28 from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at REI. The clinic will go over basic winter riding strategies, how to select appropriate winter riding gear and will provide consultations for summer cyclers who are interested in converting their bikes into snow slayers.

There is no reason that going on a bike ride should be limited to summer days and warm sun rays. Therefore, it is no surprise that the go-getter attitude that goes hand in hand with being Alaskan surfs over into the snow season.

Winter biking is shaping up to be an ergonomic, eco-friendly, central part of the UAA campus community, and it is time that all students jump on the bandwagon that is winter biking.