This has been the first week of real, sort of, winter biking weather in Minneapolis since last season. The truth about winter biking is it is exhilarating, fun, dangerous, and refreshing all at the same time.
I would recommend winter biking for anyone with coordination, determination, and the will to step outside in the cold and take in the surroundings.
Special Note: Road tires will slick out the second you hit ice, so dress your tires nice. Go studded; always with your rubbers, go studded.
I fell 4 times in 1 hour on road tires last year while traversing The Green Way, few witnessed it, the ass of my pants got wet and I was iced up by the time I opened the door to my apartment.
Upon waking this morning I noticed the clock, it was 4:50 am, since I work at a Downtown coffee shop/bakery, I am typically up at this time of day. More or less, two to three times a week. My bed was warm and welcoming, I had an idea of heaven and it existed between my 1,000 count royal yellow sheets, but at this moment I had to leave.
Hurried and rushed I made my way out the door, a life ever moving. Hardly a break for breakfast, hardly time to get my contacts in for maximum visual capacity. Moments before I leave, typically, I pray that the weather is 70 degrees and sunny, not requiring a hefty layering of cloth and protective gear. I am wrong more often than not as we head deeper into the mix of winter months, snow and slush, after fall in the Midwest a bundle up routine is required.
At this point in my life I am not a professional bicyclist, I know a few who may be up for consideration, yet I am not, and I am also not a novice. The Jimmie John’s guys, or the Rockit Bike Delivery people, or the trendy individuals in Urban Velo Bike Magazine are truly Gods of biking. I just try. This is my second year biking, and most are calling last year a mild winter, an unseasonably warm wintertime. Not to mention the lack of precipitation, and in general lack of seasonal weather. Although, it was bitterly cold for some weeks; nearing negative 30 degrees with wind-chills surpassing that, nearing my hands freezing off, I kept biking. This year I am more prepared, but little preparation can get you in big trouble. Layering can be your savior, so always dress bulky.
I feel as though February is the coldest month of the year in Minnesota, yet I always get tricked into thinking December or January are worse for punishment. Maybe it is because February is the latter of all three. I have lived through the first two, what could the third be like? February is like Hell, but the opposite, but like hell in that it is torturously cold and bleak.
Before going to bed the night before, I pursued through horror flick after horror flick on Netflix, to no avail, then I found the local news. The weather suggested a subterranean feel; 19 degrees, not including the wind-chill, must I wear a jacket, must I wear a hat, goggles, gloves, and neck-warmer? Yes, I must, this was a far cry from the months of summer biking: shirtless, shorts clad, and sometimes shoeless, cruising through the vast park areas of Minneapolis, The Green Way, and surrounding lakes.
Summer biking is somewhat of a Romance novel for bicyclists; however, it is hardly noted until after the winter months have started. A great read, but thrown away because the great weather happens most days for at least 3 months, minus the few weeks of 110 degree heat index, yet we forget that now.
Weather like that makes it wise to bike to the library’s exceptional air conditioning system-this is when I truly believe we don’t know what we have until it is gone.
Frost to sweat, Minneapolis offers the best.
Yet again, biking today reminded me of how great it is to bike in general, in any weather. The love of biking is there.
Freedom of all things considered; push the pedal down and back around again to see the town. Then back and hold it; coast most of the time. Lock up tight for the night, and do it again the next day. The only way, the free way, the real deal, biker’s appeal.
I think of not paying for car insurance or a gym membership, not paying for gas or for vehicle maintenance. I think of the friends I have made, the discussions of biking, rides we have shared. The spills, the parties, the flats, the reality of it all is biking is very community.
Exercise is a welcome commodity when most people semi-hibernate for winter; biking is a prime example of a way to remain in shape.
Spend less money on gas in the winter months; biking is a great way to spend less and save more money, money of which could be spent on presents for loved ones.
What I fail to understand about government enforcement, for some reason, is that we know the negative effects of which vehicles cause to the environment, on people’s health, and on the landscape in general, and I ask why there is no citation for driving? Those who drive, as opposed to bike, should have to pay a fee for breaking the common decency law, for destroying the environment, themselves, and others. One simple purchase of a bike could change all of that.
My roommate sat on Craigslist for 4 hours on Sunday bitching at the plasma T.V. Screen about prices on bikes: “This guy is trying to rip people off!”, “No one would pay that much for that pile of shit!”, “I am kind of a bike nerd.” He would say…
I laughed at him, and with him, and thought, what a psycho. I was there thinking the same thing in my head.
All of this could change if we all biked, roads would be less dangerous, less crowded, less polluted with smog. Carbon emissions statewide, nationwide, even worldwide, would be dramatically reduced, and people would be more physically active, benefiting the overall health of society. In a real world where biking is the main form of transportation… Wait, the real world… Things would be… Wait, this could never happen…
This argument is not appropriate for now, maybe in the future.
I may be wrong about ubiquitous biking, trading car for bike, but riding this morning and this evening in the darkened hours of our waning 2012 year, and the approaching months of 2013, made me realize that I have found peace. It was in the still quiet of the road, the lack of noise from engine, the lack of fumes, the feel of the cold air around my layered shell of warmth, the way the moon hung above in passing clouds; yellow and lonely in the distant sky:
To stand in the still winter night and take in what light was afforded. To realize a lone stance and to take in everything at glance, to breathe out steam like that of a locomotive. All is peaceful like that of the Nativity; all is brilliant in black and white; one with this night; one with this season, all to this delight.
Biking this season will not be a negative interaction, even if it is considered arduous by most. I feel the open-mindedness afforded through biking has me still telling people, “No, I will bike all winter.” When they ask me if I will take the bus. The people who ask and wait for a response shake their heads after, but I have to ask. I really have to ask.
When things get so bad that you don’t think you can surpass do you just back down and change your ways? Shy away from what you have come to love, to deal with new challenges, or do you remain yourself and keep on going with your passion in a way that is beneficial to yourself and others?