Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

A bicycle ideal for winter pedaling

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Greg Peck
Monday, March 10, 2014

A spring-like day like today makes me yearn to get the bicycle out. I haven't pedaled to work since early last December. I would pump up the tires and head out except for all the water in the streets. I'd be pretty wet from splashing through those puddles by the time I reached the office.

Some people, however, have been pedaling all winter. A month ago I talked to a neighbor who said he had only missed biking to work, almost 2 miles away, just a couple of times since we rang in the new year. On those days, when subzero temperatures made it just too brutal to bike despite his winter garb, he walked to work.

One evening when I was running my snowblower up and down another neighbor's driveway, here came my bicycling neighbor, walking his bike home from work. The streets were too snowy to pedal home.

“What made you decide to bike on a day like this?” I asked him.

“It was nice biking on the way to work this morning,” he reasoned.

Maybe he should consider a new type of bike. The Wisconsin State Journal says more and more enthusiasts in our capital city are turning to custom-built bikes with tires between 3 and 5 inches wide. One guy said he likes to mess with ice fishermen, pedaling up behind them on these bizarre-looking contraptions and asking how the fish are biting.

The March 1 story by Jane Burns said these fat-tire bikes were developed more than a decade ago in Alaska but in the last year or so have rolled into the mainstream for those wanting to ride in snow or sand. Now, you might find one in a big-box store for as little as $200. Riders wanting fast, sleek carbon frames pay well over $1,000. The Badger State Winter Games introduced a fat bike event for the first time. The Fat Bike Birkie was in its second year on the same trails of the famous Birkebeiner cross country ski race in Cable, and a park in Wausau is now open specifically for fat tire bikes.

Dave Schlabowske, deputy director of the Wisconsin Bike Federation, guesses there are only about 30,000 in the world but expects they'll mushroom to between 100,000 and 200,000 next year because of major manufacturers such as Trek and others getting involved.

Let's see, I only have five bikes hanging in the garage now, what with my restored '54 Schwinn Spitfire wintering in the basement. Maybe I have room for one more…

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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