Temperatures drop, snow falls, and people tuck their bikes away—or abandon them on a rack outside. Either way, “see you in the spring,” they say.
I wondrously get asked all the time, “how do you bike out now???”
With some minor adjustments. I wear some thick gloves, a wraparound scarf, and something to cover my ears. A face mask, if it’s real bad out. I ride and pull the brakes a little slower.
There’s a view that winter biking is extremely daunting and that you gotta be a tough cookie to do it. If you bike during other seasons, there’s no reason you can’t in the winter. Sure, it’s chilly and sometimes there’s snow—ice is the real enemy though—but you’re not avoiding any of that walking or waiting for the bus either. Biking is great because it’s fast! You can go straight to where you need to go and it doesn’t cost money. You’re out of the cold faster and with the right gear, it’s warmer than you think. I have arrived sweating under my layers! A combination of continuous movement and needing to be aware of your surroundings keeps your mind off the frigidness.
And the best part about winter riding? “Nuttin’ like taking a sweet lump over a snow drift,” says Laurel, a CU winter rider.
A lot of my friends stopped riding their bikes this winter. Especially a lot of my female friends. The ones that are still at it, this is what they have to say:
Hannah Swoboda, psych building dweller, cool cat
I’m impatient so I like to get to class quickly. I usually just bike to campus, around my neighborhood, or to Common Ground and Shnucks. I don’t bike as long of distances in the winter. My current bike is an awful hand-me-down. It’s trash. That’s why I’m building a new bike at The Bike Project. One time someone else on a bike without brakes cut me off and I ran into them. As for riding in the winter, just do it, I guess. Nothing really bad has happened to me yet. Scarves are important.
Tess O’Leary, sweetest human being, cool cat
I enjoy biking if I’m enjoying myself that day. I ride to class, work, yoga; pretty much anywhere that is farther than a mile from my home. I’m lucky enough to have a mountain bike with reasonably wide tread tires, so it’s good for all seasons and adventuring. I do occasionally fall, you just have to stay physically and mentally relaxed to feel out how you’re going to fall, and then fall properly so you avoid hurting yourself. It takes practice, but you probably want to limit the amount of times you “practice.” Just stay warm by whatever means necessary! Be unafraid to fall but stay aware of what your tires are rolling over. Be dynamic. Live in the moment.
Laurel, polo player, cool cat
Like I said earlier, nuttin’ like taking a sweet lump over a snow drift. I lurv it. I ride my Bianchi Osprey with studded, knobby tires and a suspension fork to the grocery store in my coveralls. Between riding in rain or snow, sno fo sho. Glasses wearers: beware of foggy glasses!!!
Winter garb: the difference between those who ride (comfortably) and not…
I gotta feel like a bundled, biking marshmallow.
Hannah: scarf and earmuffs
Tess: from top to bottom, warm hat that MUST cover your ears, a face mask or scarf to wrap around your face, a hood or scarf to keep cold air off of your neck, thermal long-sleeve T-shirt, sweater, fluffy/wind-resistant coat, thermal leggings, pants, wool socks, and boots. Be prepared to look like a living coat rack sometimes.
Laurel: coveralls, gloves, and a balaclava
Me: thick gloves, hat < earband < balaclava in decreasing degrees, cashmere scarf, thermal full-body suit or fleece-lined leggings under my jeans on very harsh days.
Maybe you’ve been inspired to ride this winter. Brisk, sunny morning rides are refreshing and it’s great exercise in the otherwise dormant season.
Want to tune up a bike for winter? Come to this!
The second Saturday of every month from 11-2pm, Women and Trans Open Hours will be hosted at the Bike Project in downtown Urbana. Women, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals are welcome to come fix bikes, learn, volunteer, teach, and hang out in a positive, safer community space.