Sunday, March 8, 2015

Winter Bike to Work Day as antidote to psychological barrier of riding bikes in inclimate weather

When November came 8 years ago, I just couldn’t get off my bike.  Temps were dropping and snow falling, but the thought of parting with my bike for 4 or 5 months was too much to take.  I had to start figuring a way to keep riding.  It involved lots of trial and error.  

Lots of spills and chills.  Many moments of doubt about whether this was such a good idea.  But I’m still doing it.  I’ve learned a lot what barriers there are to riding a bike in MN all year long.  There are many practical ones.  It can get really, really cold.  The streets and trails can be very treacherous at times.  

You need to be more organized about how you’re going to get somewhere on time because sometimes you can’t just throw a coat on.  The reality is, Minnesota winters are unforgiving.  You’re going to have to live within that truth if you’re going to Ride All Year Long.

These barriers are big and they have kept me off my bike many times.  But I have found that ultimately, the biggest barrier is psychological.  It’s my attitude.  It’s about not letting the barriers winter presents keep me off my bike.  How many times have I sat in my house, looking outside, imagining how cold it is out there and thinking about all the things that could go wrong. If I let it get to me, I end up driving instead.  Sometimes I do.  It seems impossible.  Regular experience of riding in winter helps. The less I ride in the winter, the harder it is to get on the bike.  And every Fall I need to psych myself up to get prepared, ready, and willing to ride my bike when the temp drops and snow falls.

When you are resolved to do it, you start doing your best to make it happen.  The good thing is that other people are out there riding their bikes and are willing to tell you how they did it.  They have practical experience that you can try out for yourself. People need to see others doing something before they are going to try it themselves. 

Arriving places on a bike in the winter surprises people.  Some say that you’re crazy.  While most people think riding a bike is a good thing, and some people will even ride a bike on occasion, only a few will consider riding their bike to work - even in ideal conditions.  But to ride your bike to work in the middle of a Minnesota winter is unfathomable.  And yet on Friday February the 13th, 254 people from the Twin Cities pledged to ride to work on Winter Bike to Work Day Here, people were demonstrating that impossible was possible.  And on the Winter Bike to Work Day Minneapolis ride, they came together to show that this isn’t just an isolated person, but a community of likeminded individuals.  

That Friday when Winter Bike to Work Day Minneapolis participants made the journey from city hall to the Eastlake Craft Brewery in Midtown Global Market, they showed what was possible.  Commuters saw dozens of bikers riding as a group during the “off-season”, when only the foolish spend much time outside.  

Ride All Year Long is a very bold statement.  Whatever weather conditions Minnesota presents you with,  it’s about being open to riding anytime of the year.