Biking in the snow

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James Gittemeier loves to bike in the summer. He rarely rides his bike to work once the snow flies. But on Feb. 13, Gittemeier joined the 29 people from Duluth who pledged to join International Winter Bike to Work Day.

"I'm one of those that if the roads are dry and clear of snow, I'll bike. But it snowed about an inch that morning and I did it anyway. It was my first time biking to work with snow on the actual roads," Gittemeier said.

Gittemeier is a senior planner for the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council. He is also a member of Active Living, a branch of the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition. He and other Active Living members spread the word about the Winter Bike Day on social media.

To encourage people to ride, bikers were invited to stop by the morning commuter station for a free cup of Duluth Coffee Company coffee or hot chocolate 7-8:30 a.m. on the corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street. Sixteen bikers stopped by for a cup.

"Many of the people who stopped by had never ridden their bikes in the winter, so that was really cool to talk with them," Gittemeier said.

Gittemeier said the key to riding in the snow was to move slowly.

"I live up on Fifth Street so I biked down the hill, down the avenues, so I went a lot slower than usual. Outside of that, it wasn't so bad. I didn't have any problems at all," he said.

Cities around the world joined in the winter biking through www.winterbiketoworkday.org. The website check-in map shows that over 250 people pledged to ride in the Twin Cities area. Gittemeier said there was an informal competition between Duluth and Thunder Bay.

"They had 21 pledge to ride that day and we had 29, so ..." Gittemeier said.

Although the winter edition of Bike to Work Day has passed, cyclists will have the opportunity to participate in the regular Bike to Work Day on May 15.