Cyclists can choose to follow the lead of their northern cousins and put their bikes away when the calendar says "winter." Or they may choose to take advantage of cool days and relatively low humidity to enjoy their two-wheeled steeds with lowered heat stress.
Shreveport's average high in November is 67, dipping to 59 in December and 56 in January, before beginning to warm up to 61 in February. The lows generally stay above freezing: averaging 46 in November, 40 in December, and 37 in January, while warming to 41 in February and 47 in March. The lowest recorded temperature was 1 degree Fahrenheit in 1951.
Winter on the calendar is a great time to break out mountain bikes to ride on unimproved paths, according to Ian Webb of River City Cycling on Youree Drive. There are seven trails within 45 minutes, he said. Trails are clear and there are fewer insects around. "We have 12 months of great riding. There are very few places you cannot get to on a bike. We don't have a huge elevation change. Drivers are friendly.”
When the weather warms up, Webb puts away mountain bikes and brings out road bikes.
Depending on clientele, bike shops see tremendous variance in biking seasonality. Scott Robertson of Bicycle Sports on South Pointe Parkway says 90 percent of his customers pack their bikes away when the weather turns cool. But Nick Burton of The Bike Pedaler on Line Avenue says his shop's customers are "serious riders" who will ride their bikes until the weather becomes too humid.
Cool weather makes for enjoyable exercise as long as riders keep their ears and hands covered, Burton said. He's been experimenting with "embrocation," a practice that originated in Belgium. Burton rubs a water-repellant, insulating ointment on legs and hands, enabling him to cycle in cool weather bare-legged without becoming chilled.
By Lani Duke