Challenge sparks winter biking


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Come winter, the trip from the front door to the car is too frigid and grueling for many, but for participants of the Winter Warrior Challenge, it’s just another day for cycling.

The University of Iowa Office of Sustainability and UI Bicycle Advisory Committee will hold the second Winter Warrior Challenge, and they hope to see more participants sign up throughout the month.

The event challenges cyclists to continue riding through the winter, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20, and then to log their miles, and pictures, on the Sustainability Office’s website.

“We wanted to do something to highlight that biking is something you can do all year round; it doesn’t have to be something you put away once it gets cold,” said graduate student Andrew Lynch, the head of the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

George McCrory, a communications specialist for the Sustainability Office, said the event was created last year to give people an incentive to commute by bike during the winter months.

Last year’s 189 participants logged more than 3,167 trips and 8,294 miles.

So far, McCrory said, only 120 people have signed up, but he said he is not too concerned because it is still early in the challenge, and it takes a bit of dedication to bike in the winter.

Ingrid Anderson, a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, said cycling during the winter isn’t such a frightening proposition as long as people dress appropriately.

“Part of it is having the right equipment, like the saying, ‘There’s no bad weather, there’s just bad gear,’ so if you have the right gear, it’s not too bad,” she said.

When participants log their miles, they become eligible for prizes from bike shops around Iowa City, including the Broken Spoke, 30th Century Bicycle, and World of Bikes, among others.

The bike shops were happy to be a part of the challenge, said UI sophomore Willy Tan, an intern at the Sustainability Office who helped organize this year’s event.

“They definitely support the university with all of our biking on campus,” Tan said.

Anderson also credited Iowa City for recognizing and sharing the road with the cycling community.

“Yeah there’s a really strong cycling community and I feel pretty safe riding right on the roads; I think most motorists are pretty attentive, even in the winter,” Anderson said.

Participants also have the option of uploading pictures of themselves, or their bikes, for the challenge, and last year’s results were a plethora of cycling pride, from cyclists with icicles on their beards to bikes covered in Christmas lights.

Lynch said the event is a nice way to recognize, and perhaps encourage, this dedicated cycling community of Iowa City.

“We had a lot of success with it last year, it was really a lot of fun, and it’s a good way to allow people to have a little fun with something maybe they do every day or have an incentive to try something new,” he said.

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