Winter Biking

Or Why I’m Glad I Live in Florida

winter in minnesota

Photo credit: Beyond Neon / iWoman / CC BY

I’m in Minneapolis this week. It’s 3 degrees right now. 3 whole degrees. As a Floridian, I can barely stand to go outside. But here? People bundle up, put on studded tires so they can ride over ice, and head out on their bikes just like they would in July. They even plough the snow off of the bike trails here.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone out on a few rides with my friends, and I’ve learned a few things about winter biking. (Actually, I came up here just so that I could experience winter — and I mean real, hardcore Minnesota winter — biking.)

1. Layering is crucial. It can be really hard to figure out what to wear and how many layers. Too few layers and you’ll be miserable. Too many and you’ll sweat…and be miserable. (Frozen sweat is the WORST! Learned that the hard way.) The only way to figure out what to wear on winter days is trial and error. However, there is a useful rule of thumb: if you’re comfortable when you first step outside, you’re wearing too much. Once you start pedaling, you body will warm up fast, so you should be chilly for the first ten minutes of your ride. Don’t worry. It passes. And it’s better to be cold for the first ten than sweaty for the last 45. Seriously.

2. Lots of snow? Less air in the tires. If it’s very snowy out, you want to decrease the air in your tires so you can kind of “float” on top of the snow.

3. Diligent bike care is essential. They salt the roads up here when it snows, and that can be hard on a bike. You have to keep the rims, spokes and other parts clean.

4. You will astonish people. There are quite a few people here in Minneapolis that bike year-round, in all kinds of weather. And everyone else is amazed by these people. Want to hear people exclaim how tough you are? Bike through Minneapolis in 3 degree weather.

I’m coming home on Friday. Jacksonville will be 65 degrees warmer than Minneapolis is right now. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to coming home so much. Minneapolis does have better bike infrastructure than we do, though. If we could have their infrastructure and our weather? Jacksonville would be bike heaven.



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