Winter Bicycling

Nathan returning from work

We read this piece by Joe Soucheray in the St. Paul Pioneer Press today. It captures well why even in January we cheerfully bundle selves and children and use our legs and maybe the wheels of a bicycle or heavy-duty stroller, or the smooth bottom of a sled, for transportation around this Minnesota prairie town.

Especially when the car won’t start on a morning when it’s twenty-five degrees F below zero!

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About Julia Bloom

singer of songs, lover of words, asker of questions, runner of miles, mother of Lu&Si, darlin' of Nathan
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4 Responses to Winter Bicycling

  1. Jodi says:

    Isn’t Soucheray the guy who invented the Cylinder Index to celebrate the internal combustible engine? Ironic.

    James and I are brainstorming ways to cut transportation costs. Just a few days ago I said, “I can start biking to school once the weather warms up.” Now this, thanks a lot. Obviously, though, a commitment to winter biking would require investing in some outerwear. What are we talking here?

  2. juliabloom says:

    Yup, i found it interesting that this piece was by Joe Soucheray. Usually I’m not as wholeheartedly supportive of his ideas.

    You know, I haven’t ridden my bike in a few months. I don’t feel so confident riding on icy or slushy roads. But I do love walking for transportation in this weather, and I LOVE running in this weather. It helps me feel like I have some power over these brutal Minnesota winters. I get out there in just a few layers of clothes in zero-degree weather, gallop through the slush and come back feeling high. Take that, January – you can’t keep me down!!

    If you haven’t ridden your bike in traffic much, you might want to wait until spring so you can get good and practiced for the next winter. (Unless you have a less-car-travelled route to take?)

    I’ve asked Nathan to post his advice about winter biking gear. Hopefully he will do that soon!

  3. l8again says:

    Oops- I guess I was supposed to provide some information here! Sorry, Jodi!

    Here is my current gear ensemble for winter cycling:

    Bicycle: older 26″ mountain bike with aluminum frame and alloy components (steel components rust quickly) Grip shifters work well in all weather, and easily operated with mittens. Fenders are really nice to have.

    Tires: Rear- standard 2.5″ knobby tire. Front- Nokian studded tire. (~$75, but I have not fallen since I purchased it in Feb 2010)

    Lights: Planet Bike 2-watt LED headlamp, Planet Bike blinky Superflash 1/2 Watt LED taillamp. Homemade 10 Watt 12V Halogen flood headlamp.

    Helmet: ski/snowboard type helmet with earflaps. Though rarely needed, goggles are nice for blowing snow or extreme cold.

    Jacket: the shell of a 2-piece motorcycle jacket. (body armor, lots of reflective tape, and zips for ventilation) I close the zips in below zero weather only.

    Face mask: Neoprene half mask works great for keeping face warm in temps below 20F. Breathes easy, and doesn’t cause glasses/goggles to fog.

    Balaclava: added only in below zero temps.

    Shoes: Lightweight insulated hiking-type boots.

  4. Jodi says:

    Thank you! I’m hoping that baby steps this spring will help me to be more courageous about cold-weather cycling next winter.

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