Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another round of winter biking

photo from Chicago bike winter
It's late September.  Way up here in Wisconsin, that means we are staring down the gaping maw of old man winter.  I'll be honest, I'm not looking forward to it.  I'm trying to see the bright side, but there is no way I'd rather ride in twenty layers vs. the t-shirt, shorts and Chacos I'm donning right now.  The real tear jerker, and yeah, a few will be rolling down my face, is that my weekly group rides, with The Church of the Spoken Wheel, are about to end.  We'll extend the season as long as we can, but in about a month, I'm sure most members will drop like flies.   Until then, I check the weather all too regularly.  What time is sunrise/sunset?  Are the wind conditions under 25mph?  If it's under 50 degrees, what is the chance of rain?  Hell.  I should buy stock in the weather channel.

The first snow or freezing rain event is always a slap in the face.  All of a sudden, my fifteen minute commute to work becomes twenty five (thirty five if you count the time to get dressed).  I look like Bambi out there with new legs.  Even though my tires have been switched from my speedy slicks to my sluggish knobbies, I have no confidence in my skills.  Come spring, rolling through any condition seems easy, but until then, I continue to gimp along, clad in blinking lights, covered head to toe in synthetic, wool and reflective tape.

After a blizzard, there is always a bright side (even if it causes snow blindness).  The sky opens up and becomes the crispest blue.  If you're lucky, this all happens before the plows come and freshies can be had on city streets.  This is the image I have to keep in my head so as not to go "shining" on my husband.  Luckily, here in Madison, we have a group that a) gets people out of the house and on their bikes in the winter and b) gives local bars way too much business considering we are rolling out of the bar on two wheels...some without studs.

Madison Bike Winter was formed by Aaron Crandall several years back.  He snagged the idea from the Chicago group and has somehow made it much a much smaller city (currently the group is over 750 members).  I get the pleasure of helping him create events and babysitting the facebook page when he's vacationing in warm tropical locations.  Without it, I would either move out of Madison for the winter or end up on a street corner screaming obscenities.

Last year, our winter-bike-to-work day, turned into an entire week of activities.  From coffee and bacon on the commuter paths for the early risers to a winter bike clothing fashion show, yoga for cyclists and a "singles" ride for the evening crowd.  This year, we have grand ideas of a frozen lake criterium and gold sprints to keep the spirits up.  Next week will be our first Madison Bike Winter "meet-up" and I'm guessing Aaron will leave with a mile long list of fun activities to keep us out of, or get us into trouble.  I sadly will miss the first meeting due to a weekend long bike date with my husband.  Since he's not much of a winter rider, aside from commuting to work, we have to squeeze out all the precious time we have before the first flakes fly.

For those of you unfamiliar with winter riding, I urge you to check with your local bike shop and see if there are rides/groups to get involved with.  Yeah, you might feel goofy riding with ski goggles and four inch tires but hey, you'll have fun!

artwork by Dave Schlabowske

No comments:

Post a Comment