Saturday, February 14, 2015

Madison Bike Winter Bike-To-Work-Week

It's a bit too fitting for me.  As our governor, Scott Walker, makes sweeping cuts to anything bike and pedestrian related, we kick off our annual Madison Bike Winter bike-to-work-week.  I'm not sure if I should laugh at this scenario since it proves, no matter what, cyclists will take to the streets.  Or if I should cry, knowing we won't be getting a penny from governor scrooge to better situations for those who want to bike or walk as transportation.

In my e-mail to several state politicians, I carefully laid out that although some cyclists see winter biking as just a social activity, most see it as a clean form of transportation as well as a form of exercise.  In this modern world of obesity, type 2 diabetes, stress/anxiety disorders, and climate change, shouldn't we all be doing our part to turn things around?  WHY should we be making cuts to programs which support a healthier state?  WHY should we be taking funds away from bike/ped initiatives and instead placing them into highway projects?  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Mr. Walker is a very sick man.

Thankfully, most of the cyclists in Madison, and across Wisconsin, have decided to show what's truly important to them and just keeping rolling.  During this week, every year, no matter the conditions, hundreds of supporters in Madison alone come out to celebrate year round cycling.  We bike to work (if it's feasible), we bike to gather with friends and we bike to show solidarity.

This year's winter bike-to-work-week, organized by our fearless leader Aaron Crandall, along with the help of tons of volunteers and sponsors, focussed primarily on winter commuting but also the social side of winter riding.  No one said spending fifteen minutes to get dressed for a quick ride was fun, but if one ditches the negatives, and instead thinks about some of the simple pleasures--seeing the stars on an icy cold night or morning, watching the shadows change with the blue tinged light, spotting animal tracks in the snow, taking swigs off of a flask and then passing it on to your friends who are laughing just as hard as you, taking off layers once you get inside only to find hoar frost has made your entire body its home and eating an entire pizza by yourself with no guilt whatsoever--finding pleasure in winter riding isn't so hard to come by and all that time spent layering and unlayering begins to become worth it.

Stray Cat Bicycles and Just Coffee join forces at one of the commuter stations

MBW began the week with a Sunday morning ride through the city--cut short a bit by the threat of freezing rain and sleet.  Across town, the inaugural Inukshuk fat bike race was being ridden/walked (the conditions were a bit mushy but fun I heard).  The rest of the week was jam packed with frozen goodness from a free breakfast put on by Whole Foods and commuter stations set up with free coffee, doughnuts and bacon (thank you Machinery Row, Stray Cat Bicycles, B-Cycle and Planet Bike!),  to a free maintenance class, Pilates and yoga, an evening chilly ride around the lake, and a end of the week party.  I took in as much as my work would allow, and I have to say it was a joy playing the "guess who's riding next to you since you can't recognize them under all the layers game"--something I'm not the best at.

Evening ride around the lake 
What was the best part of the week, other than talking my friends into lengthening a night ride (one wanted to force me to ride around in the dog park and burn off my energy so we could go drink beer earlier) and seeing so many of my partners in crime?  Yesterday morning, on my way down to the commuter station, a school bus pulled up next to me and I heard banging on the windows.  I could barely see since my glasses were fogged up while waiting for the light to change.  I pulled them down onto my nose and noticed a bunch of what looked to be 8-10 year olds waving feverishly and trying to get my attention.  I smiled and waved back, and then two of the kids gave me huge thumbs up.  Yes, that made my day/week/month.  Something so silly made the rest of my zero degree ride toasty warm.

Although last night's party was the official end to the week, today brings the U.S. Fat Bike Criterium on the capitol square.  It's supposed to be -10 with a strong windchill when the race starts.  No matter how much I want to cheer on my fellow winter riders and friends, I will be sitting in a sauna...waiting for spring!  Happy winter biking all!  Thanks Madison, volunteers and sponsors for making this yet another great winter biking year!  Finally, there was a nice little article in Madison Magazine written about riding here in the winter.  I was lucky enough to be a part of it with several good friends.

End of the week gathering at Brocah 

Laying down the snow tracks for fat bike criterium at the capitol

Coffee, Bacon and Doughnuts on the bike path put on by B-Cycle and Planet Bike

No comments:

Post a Comment