In 2014, Low (an amazing Grease Rag founder) 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. Follow along for this year's #LoveMNWinter series — and add your name to this list if you'd like to contribute!
I #LoveMNWinter! Today, I love bundling up.
When people ask me where I'm from, I generally pause and say, "Well, nowhere really." I was born in Chicago but have bounced around the United States, with a stretch of my childhood in Switzerland and a stint during college in Australia.
Part of that meandering stuck me in the Lone Star State.
Now, I could say many things about Texas, but during a recent 18 months living in Austin I realized how much I love winter.
Austin is indeed a great cycling city — bike infrastructure all over, a wealth of different riding groups and nary a day under 60 degrees. Even I thought the ever-balmy temperatures would be one of the best things about living in the South. But it turned out to be one of the things I hated the most.
As a car-free commuter, having spent the majority of my adulthood riding in Kansas City and Washington, D.C. I had grown accustomed to — and had the wardrobe to match — a four-season climate. About six months into our residence in Austin, I remember putting on a tank top for the umpteenth time in November and telling my partner, "Ugh, this is ridiculous. I miss my scarf."
I honestly don't remember when and where I got my blue scarf — a thrift store sometime in my late teens or early twenties. But I love it. Like, really love it. Like, when I put it on it feels like some sort of Harry Potter thing happens and I'm cozy and safe and protected somehow.
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.
But there's also something about feeling... bulky that reminds me to slow down. When I was living a perpetual summer I felt a pressure to go go go all the time. The gray skies of winter remind me that we mammals need moments of hibernation to recharge. The slick streets mandate I slow my cadence and sometimes tell myself, "You know what? If you're late, everyone will not hate you and the world will not end."
Many people looked at us sideways when we said we were moving from Texas to Minnesota. Why would you choose to live somewhere with such brutal winters, they wondered? For me, the winter was one of the biggest selling points.
And if you could see beneath my beloved blue scarf as I ride around the Twin Cities for my first full winter, you'd probably see me smiling.