In 2014, Low created a project to get them through the brutal Minnesota winter. For 29 days they posted stories and pictures and poems about riding through the difficult month of February. In 2015 and 2016 it grew into a beautiful collective effort, with dozens of WTFs sharing what makes them #LoveMNWinter.
This year — my first full winter in Minnesota — I had the privilege of wrangling stories, reflections, poems and photo collections that gave me life in these dark days (on so many levels).
For so many of us, we love winter not only for the beauty we see outside but for the vitality it inspires in ourselves. MN winter makes us feel powerful and soft, determined and patient, fierce and playful. It takes us out of comfort zones and reminds us to slow down. It proves that we are brave and capable — and supported by an amazing community of fellow WTF riders.
Here's a recap of some of my favorite phrases and thoughts from #LoveMNWinter 2017!
Connor, Day 28: She is still in about 40 pieces because I did that thing where you don’t bother to take a picture of how everything fits back together before you take it apart so whatever thing it is (in this case, my bike) sits there sadly staring at you like, “Why did you do this to me?” and all you can say is, “I’M SORRY I WAS TRYING TO MAKE IT BETTER!”
Clark, Day 27: Wheels crunch through the snow | Quintron line keeps me moving | She is badass
Low, Day 26: Resist that shit. We're beautiful.
Monica, Day 25: In February it’s the nuthatches, chick-a-dees and woodpeckers that keep me smiling along with the cardinals and robins that are already starting their spring calls.
Yasmiene, Day 24: There’s a spot by my house that was as smooth as a fresh skating rink. I feel so playful when I’m sliding on the ice to watch the water underneath move.
Teresa, Day 23: I love the idea that during this time when life slows down, and we are all forced indoors to stay warm, that essential knowledge is shared in a communal way.
Amanda, Day 22: Not everywhere gets winter, so it’s special. It’s fleeting. I want more winter, more snow, more layers, more hot chocolate with marshmallows. More winter bike rides that rejoice in the cold and snow that makes our state special.
Lucy, Day 21: One evening during the very first significant snowstorm, I was biking home and must have looked ridiculous sliding around the bike lane on 26 and Bloomington all by myself. A woman in her mini-van rolled down the window to ask if I was interested in taking a ride from her... Even though it was snowy, icy and cold outside, I’ll never forget how warm I felt after that interaction.
Sarah, Day 20: false brown spring from froze | happy fat tires ride smooth | on snow forest slush
Casey, Day 19: There is a soft, stillness to winter on the plains/prairie/lake country where humans get to hibernate inside of fluffy blankets and frosty balaclavas. Silently biking through a fresh, sparkling blanket of snow on a clear night feels like a secret.
Heidi, Day 18: Moving to Minnesota has meant learning about, among other things, neck gaiters, meat raffles, ice houses on frozen lakes, booya, and sundogs. For some reason it took me until my fourth Minnesotan winter to actually see sundogs.
Melody, Day 17: A lightbulb went off in my head. If I want people to give me space on the road out in Coon Rapids, it is best for me to smile and share a positive story.
Colleen, Day 15: Biking in the winter is an awesome, exhilarating, sometimes unpredictable experience.
Kadence, Day 14: I want to share with you my not-so-special-secret for How to Be a Bike Babe Badass, so that you, too, will become the Bike Babe Badass That You’ve Always Wanted to Be.
JJ, Day 13: As a survivor, cycling plays a key role in my healing. I can feel the power of my body. As far as winter biking is concerned, it’s all just part of the adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I love riding in winter.
Anna, Day 12: Sometimes community means getting a lot of help to do something really stupid. For me, this year, that was finishing my first-ever fat bike race.
Joy, Day 11: I feel powerful when I pass another powerful winter cyclist and we give each other the all-knowing nod. To me the nod says, "I see you. We're doing great. It's damn cold."
Judy, Day 10: As evening descended upon the town, we churned through the brown squashy streets back to the hotel and stowed the bikes... We’d survived another adventure and lived to ride another day.
BrieAnna, Day 9: I love how quiet and in your own world you can feel on a winter's night.
Bri, Day 8: My favorite is crossing the Mississippi River — it's never the same — roiling, rambling, rushing, freezing, thawing, but always moving forward.
Tina, Day 7: Often, as city-dwellers, we get wrapped up in what we do here, and our world shrinks down to the borders of what we can immediately see. This weekend, the universe conspired to break us out of that loop, a chance to experience and appreciate the warmth and wonder of rural Minnesota.
Dana, Day 6: This year’s great discovery has been the wool circle skirt. Even in below zero temperatures, I am cozy and stylish in heavy wool with a pair or two of fleece leggings underneath.
Holly, Day 5: This winter, I’ve been “hunkering down” as an opportunity to find my way out of a personal shitstorm of burn out and avoidance. I'm starting by catching up on some reading, ready to strategize a new route forward and it starts by sticking to the work of WTFs and POC authors in my #lovemnwinter reading list...
Lauren, Day 4: I love MN winter. But love does not always look like excitement or appreciation. Sometimes love looks like patience.
Anneka, Day 3: I love the Midwest winter because, more than ever, this is how I want to be: fierce, unpredictable in my tactics, disrupting the system so that there is space and fertile ground for new seeds to grow come spring.
Hilary, Day 2: I love wearing all my layers not only because they keep me warm, but because they remind me of all the friends and family that helped me be the badass I am today.
Carolyn, Day 1: I don't know if it's moving through the world as a woman that makes me feel subconsciously exposed at all times, but I like wearing sweaters and mittens and two pairs of pants. Maybe the layers make me feel bigger in a world that often makes me feel small — or more protected from the hurled insults we all defend against daily when we ride.
HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed!