18 Feb


Day 18 of Loving MN Winter


on February 18, 2018   comments 0

I #LoveMnWinter! Today I love stripping away the excess.

By Elissa Schufman, she/her/hers


There’s no room on my bike for extra layers of clothes, for more weight in my panniers. In the summer I throw in whatever I might need — a change of clothes, a water bottle or two, a book in case I get there early. Winter demands a price for thoughtless overload. I pay it every time I put on one layer too many and arrive at my destination soaking wet, smelling like the cold. The payment returns as a lesson, and the next time I know better.

There’s no autopilot on my winter bike. The dark, cold days force me to think ahead, plan my route, check the weather, charge my lights. I peer at the road on sunny 25-degree days, wondering what’s ice and what’s water. I leave work early whenever I can to catch a ride home in the sunlight. I brace myself for everything: popping a tube, getting stuck, falling down, uncontrolled cars, late buses. I am unequivocally, unapologetically aware.

There’s no time for bullshit. On the brutally cold days, I come home and it is all I can do to eat and go to sleep. I live more essentially, thinking not of wants but of needs. The clarity of it stuns me, when my body and my heart demand that they come first. They force me to ask myself: What lifts me up? Who brings me energy? Why do I give my time away to people and things I don’t even like, that don’t even matter? When faced with my limits, what do I choose? Can I choose myself? Do I even know how?

There are no illusions. Everything narrows. I say no to others, then no to myself. I imagine I have the time, but there’s never enough energy. My reservoir comes up empty, and I am challenged to find ways to keep it full. I listen to the rhythm of the dryer as it tosses my clothes. I lay on the floor and stretch my arms above my head. I devour book after book after book. I actually eat breakfast.

There are no regrets. I fall down, and I get up again. I test my limits. I give myself permission to rest. I laugh uncontrollably when my body is sore. I watch the snowfall. I stop on the bridge and marvel at the sunset. I walk through the slush. I carry the bounty of endless gratitude. I remind myself be grateful, to fight for more, to be present. I listen to myself, and say over and over and over again, I have arrived.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

17 Feb


Day 17 of Love MN Winter


on February 17, 2018   comments 0

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love the boost of warm days.

By Joy Elizabeth


I love the surprisingly warm February days that energize me and remind me that we’ve almost made it through the winter.

  • the funny combinations of layers, like t-shirts with big gloves, as a result of bundling up for frosty mornings that turn into melting afternoons,
  • the sound of my tires on clear, dry pavement that I can trust to keep me upright,
  • getting back on my summer bike, as comfortable and comforting as a hug from a dear friend,
  • the feeling of taking a turn quickly for the first time in months,
  • detouring on my commute because all of me is warm and I have extra energy,
  • dancing to Lizzo with my hands in the air, my forearms releasing after bracing all winter against the ice and sludge,
  • zooming through puddles the size of lakes, throwing my legs in the air in an effort to save my socks,
  • the emotional release of letting your legs really go, pumping hard, remembering how strong I really am as the still-empty greenway stretches in front of me. 

I’ve felt stuck a lot of this winter as I have been bogged down by course work and social anxiety, and drained from centering my ever-important healing work. Feeling stuck is usually wrapped up in lower energy, lower motivation, and it’s harder for me to make and follow through on social plans. I have been working to balance when it is important to honor these moments of low energy by cuddling up and hunkering down.

And, I’ve also been working to notice when I have the urge to rattle this stuck-ness, by boosting my energy and pulling myself into a different headspace. It’s been really important to me to learn and practice things that can help give me this boost. Almost always, the first step is getting on my bike. It is my absolute favorite when this urge to shake and release comes on warm February days, as it did this week. I zoomed and sang and yelled and cried, the vibrations shaking up feelings deep in my gut.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

16 Feb


Day 16 of Love MN Winter 2018


on February 16, 2018   comments 0

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love reading bike love poems!

During summer and fall, Grease Rag tables at Open Streets events across the city to meet new folx and invite FTW riders into our community. In 2017, we engaged passers-by with friendly conversation AND art supplies to write bike love poems. A few weeks ago, on a snowy February night, I leisurely scanned the colorful cards, smiling at the beautiful and silly sentiments from dozens of fellow cycling enthusiasts. Here are just a few of my favorites, starting with three haikus!




Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

14 Feb


Day 14 of Love MN Winter


on February 14, 2018   comments 2

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love the solitude.

By Minsun Song


There is something about riding alone at night that brings out the romantic in me. I often bike home in the late evening, when the world is dark and dimly lit by street lights. The traffic reduces to occasional cars and buses.

When I’m biking, I’m truly by myself. There is no one to entertain, no calls or messages I can answer. It’s just me and the bike. I love the sight of the city blanketed in slow. I love the darkness surrounding me and the small circle of light that illuminates the road ahead. I love the quietness accented by the sound of the studded tires rolling down the road.

For all the challenges winter biking throws at me, it also allows me to truly exist in the moment. I love MN Winter, and I love the quiet solitude of the night ride.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

13 Feb


Day 13 of Love MN Winter 2018


on February 13, 2018   comments 0

I #LoveMnWinter. Today, I love radical acceptance.

By Scout Fleckenstein 

Let go of fighting reality and accept what is.

When I moved to Minnesota in 2013, I was scared of winter. I was scared of the cold and the snow and the ice and the wind. I was scared to winter bike. To cope with my fear that first year, I focused on the positive — the sun glinting off glittery snow, a patch of dry pavement, or the fact that my toes stayed warm for my entire commute. It turned into a game. Distracting myself from the discomfort and anxiety that come with learning a new skill allowed me to see how winter biking could be fun. I learned to appreciate my body and my bike for getting me to my destination. I started feeling like a badass as I survived and then thrived as a winter cyclist.


Radically accepting the humidity and giant tropical plants at Como Conservatory

Over the next few years, my positivity game turned into an anxiety game. I pushed myself to focus on the exciting parts of cold-weather biking and ignored my gut in dangerous riding conditions. My mindset became more and more rigid and the “shoulds” started to creep in. “I should bike instead of take the bus. I should only need one extra layer. My commute should always make me feel awesome.”

Even though exercise and being outside usually make me happy, biking because I thought I should made me feel sad and tired and ashamed. I felt like I had no choice but to grit my teeth and enjoy riding through anything. I was ashamed to admit that winter biking was really hard and sometimes, I didn’t like it.

Last year, the combination of a stressful home environment, a brand-new job and a long commute made that winter the worst of my life. Anxiety ruled as I pressured myself to do all the things I thought I should do to be healthy—bike to work every day, practice gratitude and meditate. As it turns out, those things don’t work when you ignore that you are also exhausted and incredibly stressed. I needed a reality check.

Exactly one year ago, I had my first appointment with my new therapist. We have done a LOT of work since then. Over the past 12 months, I’ve learned that I have choices. I can accept the reality of super duper cold days and take the bus. I accept that my body needs fuel and carry extra snacks and hot tea in my pannier. I bring TWO extra layers if I want! Accepting the facts and acting accordingly is not shameful—it is healthy.

So this winter, I radically accept reality. Bad days are a fact of life. I am allowed to feel cold and lonely and wonder if the snow will ever melt. Because those feelings are just as real as the exhilaration of arriving at work after a commute I was ready and excited for. Winter is beautiful. Winter is also hard. And I love winter the most when I accept all of its realities.


Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

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