Cycling through the season


Rude gets ready to ride his bike in subzero temperatures.

Rude gets ready to ride his bike in subzero temperatures.
Rude gets ready to ride his bike in subzero temperatures.

Allow me to start this off by saying this: I love riding my bike in the winter. Everything about it – gearing up, plowing through fresh snow, even taking a blow every now and then – every aspect building it into an awesome, life-affirming whole. Making such a bold statement may, quite appropriately, label me as a crazy eccentric.

That’s fair. However, I would venture to say, I am no more crazy than your average skateboarder, skier, or snowmobile enthusiast. Using my bicycle as my sole means of transportation has for me been a liberating experience, not to mention possibly one of the healthiest life choices I have made next to quitting smoking. Riding during the winter months has never been a question of “why?,” but instead, “how?”

With that being said, it remains obvious that bicycles were never initially intended to be ridden during brutal Midwest winters. Society’s reaction to a dedicated winter cyclists is only to be considered typical of an automobile-obsessed culture: bafflement and derision. While we Midwestern winter riders are blessed to a certain degree with the (mostly) non-confrontational attitude of pedestrians and car operators, cyclists in other parts of the country have to deal with (threatened) legislation and aggressive attitudes. Not to be cliché, but Minnesota Nice applies.

While attitudes toward winter cyclists here often lean more toward concern than outright anger, the relationship between cyclists and non-cyclists tends to become even more strained between the months of December to, oh, let’s say, March. For every five polite or indifferent Prius drivers there is one obnoxious, aggressive pickup driver who would love nothing more than to see every cyclist thrown in jail for crimes against lethargy. As you, the reader, may be able to ascertain from the above sentiment, there is also anger on the cyclist side of the issue. The question we are then left with is nothing new. To take a combative stance or instead to try to find some common ground; a peaceful middle in which automobile operators, pedestrians, and cyclists can coexist during the frigid months?

I, in my better moments, believe that it is possible for all of us to see eye-to-eye, for there to be some decency, some compassion when it comes to transportation during winter. It may be unlikely. In fact in all likelihood it is impossible, but can we come to an understanding that in the end we are all trying to get through what can reasonably be deemed a depressing season, the best way we can? For some of us that entails throwing some treaded tires on our bikes and busting out the UnderArmour face mask.

I will conclude by saying, a majority of people operating bicycles during the winter know what they’re doing; realize that weather conditions affect all forms of transportation and that just because one form (automotive) tends to hold more sway, it does not mean all other forms should bow to it.