CHICAGO — The weeklong Winter Bike Challenge kicks off on Friday with a Bike to Work Day rally, where intrepid commuters can load up on free cheesecake, coffee and other treats before heading to their jobs.
Set for 6:30 to 9 a.m. Friday, the 15th annual Winter Bike to Work Day rally will be held in Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. Complimentary Dark Matter coffee and giveaways from Clif Bar, New Belgium Brewery and Eli’s Cheesecake will be offered.
After the rally, the second annual Winter Bike Challenge begins, offering a chance for winter warriors to win prizes by fundraising and tracking their miles through Jan. 29.
This year, a new tracking app will allow everyone taking part to see other people's miles and earn "bragging rights" for the most distance traveled, members of the Chicago-based Active Transportation Alliance, which is hosting the challenge, announced Monday.
Last year, hundreds of cyclists participated in the inaugural winter event, which is free to join. To register and download the app, visit activetrans.org/winterbike.
Winter Bike Challenge participants who raise money to support Active Trans will be eligible for prizes, including complimentary entries into MB Bike the Drive, thermal biking gloves and a fat tire bike provided by Kozy’s Cyclery. The cyclist with the most tracked miles will win the title of King or Queen of the 2016 Winter Bike Challenge and be featured on the Active Trans blog and social media pages.
Last year's winner was Michael Withers, who rode 267 miles during the 7-day challenge.
Participants will also get tips on staying safe and warm while biking through the winter, which includes not biking at all when road and/or weather conditions are unsafe, the group said.
A nonprofit advocacy group that promotes better biking, walking and transit, Active Transportation Alliance, using federal and city data, estimates that 8,000 people use a bike to commute in Chicago during the winter.
DNAinfo Chicago previously asked some of the city's hardcore winter cyclists for tips on braving the elements.
Dominic Casey, 48, of Albany Park uses hashtag #bikechi on Twitter to find out about road conditions from other cyclists.
Hannah Zenke, 23, of Logan Square simply advises to "layer up."
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