UW News

February 5, 2009

Pedal in precipitation and commute in cloudbursts: Ride in the Rain is coming

UW News

Kole Kantner is a veritable evangelist of Ride in the Rain, the UW’s annual celebration of bike commuting in the Northwest’s most traditional weather pattern.

Now in its sixth sopping year, Ride in the Rain will take place this year from Feb. 15 to March 14. Click here to learn more and register to participate.

Ride in the Rain, part of Commuter Services (which in turn is part of Facilities Services), also will hold a special UW Bicycle Commuters Forum from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, in 142 Gerberding. There, team captains will provide advice on building and managing teams, and other experienced bike commuters will give safety tips.

Kantner is IT director for the Evans School of Public Affairs. He promotes bike riding and commuting and rides his own bike daily. He’s cut down a bit since 2007, though — that year he biked almost 100 miles a day to total an amazing 32,000 miles for the year.

The man has a real knack for getting others involved in Ride in the Rain, too. He got 49 people to sign up for teams in 2007 and about 35 last year, and he’s starting again for 2009. “I am constantly pushing people to ride, and this is just another excuse,” he said.

In Ride in the Rain, UW faculty, staff and students ride their bikes to and from campus, keeping track of their rides along the way and reporting their totals on a weekly basis throughout the month. Their totals are posted online, so all can see the progress of every team throughout the month.

Prizes are given for the most commute trips, the most rides in the rain, the most new riders and the highest total commute miles. And then there is the coveted Soaked to the Gills Trophy, given each year to the team with the highest average number of rain commutes.

Kantner said some people he talks to worry that the competition involves biking for long distances and that’s not necessarily so. You can win a prize by riding a short commute distance many times: “The essential thing is participation,” he said. And he ought to know — his team, the Evans Policy Pedalers — won the Soaked to the Gills trophy twice, in the competition’s first and third years.

Teams can comprise from four to 10 riders. Last year, a record 1,065 bike commuters — 123 teams and 99 solo riders — collectively pedaled more than 88,000 miles.

You won’t likely find team captains as involved as Kantner, who owns several bikes and actually loans them out for Ride in the Rain. But you’ll be more fit, your carbon footprint will shrink and you’ll be appreciated by scores of other friendly, if wet, competitors.

After all, Kantner said, when riding on snow and ice, “Often the rubber on a tire is better than whatever’s on the bottom of your shoe.”