Chicago winter riders,
Great Lakes Adventure Project is putting together a short article on Chicago's winter cyclist. However, we can't do it without some input:
Tell us what you love about winter riding, braving the cold, what keeps you upright on slick roads, the necessary gear, favorite routes and anything else that keep you pedaling all winter.
you are out here in Lombard???
where do you ride at???
I knew more people were out here!
Chris C said:
- What I love about winter commuting: I have the entire Dupage County bike path network to myself, up until the first snowfall. If you want to see what a bike path looks like after a zombie apocalypse, come on out.
- What keeps me upright on slick roads: You get pretty good at reading ice and wider tires and slower speeds help but falling at some point is a given.
- Necessary gear: wind-proof outer layer; wool for middle warmth layers; polyester for base layer; oversized shoes to accomodate extra socks; panniers; front & back lights; battery-powered Christmas lights (for the bike).
- Favorite routes: Did I mention they rename a county-wide bike path network in my honor during the winter? Variety is the spice of life and changing the route often is required. In the summer you carry a mental list of all drinking fountains and liquor stores. In the winter, coffee shops and liquor stores.
- my coworkers think I'm crazy and not in a joking sort of way.
- moisture management is something that's learned, not taught.
- peel-and-stick tire patches don't work well in extreme cold.
- seeing a coyote carrying a dead pet doesn't get any easier over time.
- during Christmas I count manger scenes. Divided by miles the result is known as The Baby Jesus Ratio (BJR). Lombard's ratio is quite high and sometimes breaks 1.0. Well worth the commute.
- biking below zero becomes just another day in the saddle.
Can't ride in the snow and ice any more...fell and did a number on my hip a couple of years ago. But when the streets are clear and the temps are "chrisp" I like to get out there.
No bad weather, just bad clothes. The modern fibers that wick and dry and are light, stretchy and don't bind are great. GoreTex is wonderful.
If only there was a way to keep my nose from flooding!
For the question from the security guard when I came in without my bike because I don't do snow:
No bike today?
Bundling up to go out knowing you can warm up at your destination.
Answering questions and seeing the look when people ask you if you rode here.
Unless it's single digits or windy, really windy it's not that hard to keep warm, layer, get a wind "proof" shell, a balaclava...etc.
I've NEVER wrecked in the winter I also take my Mt. Bike out with better tires some people may ride "fixed" I can't.
No favorite routes other than the nearest to the most direct route to my destination.
Because if I don't get enough exercise I get blue.
I love seeing other people riding in the winter, and then we give each other thumb's up!
Also, I work late so I bike to the train so I don't have to wait for the bus. I haven't done the full trek to work yet, but that's mostly because I would have to bike during rush hour and I'm still pretty paranoid from my last bike accident.
In general, it's quicker, it makes me feel healthier, makes me really happy, cheap, only relying on myself to get where I need to get on time rather than waiting for a bus. Lots of layers have kept me warm in 15 degree weather. I haven't really gone below that temperature yet (since I don't have goggles), and if the roads are snowy I don't ride. Sometimes they are a little slick at night so I ride slow and on back roads, and it's still quicker than the bus.
Ride slow, ride safe, layer up w/ the right clothing, and you'll have a good time. I'm looking forward to my short bike ride home later.
I love all of these answers. We are a hardy, adventuresome bunch.
I ride in the winter for the same reasons that I ride my bike the other seasons. Too many to list, but at the heart of it, it's because I like to ride.