I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love that we’re one day closer to real spring.
By Connor Phelan
Well friends, we made it! It is officially the last day of February (can I get an Amen?), even if the temperature has been feeling much more like spring.
I’m new to Minneapolis as of August 2016 and this is my first year tackling winter biking. Can I really even say that I’ve been trying winter biking, though, when we’ve had, like, three days of snow? Meh.
But what an adventure it has been. This February has taught me more about how to layer than basically any month ever (or at least since I’ve been bike commuting). I’ve learned that you may be wearing your fleece and windbreaker on your way to work in the morning, but by the time you leave the office, you’re trying to remove as many layers as possible while maintaining an acceptable level of non-nudity in public (and if you’re me, the instant you get home you rip off your shirt because even after stripping down, you’re STILL a hot mess).
Me, after my freezing (literally, it was -6 degrees that day) ride to the office.
February also taught me that when the snow melts and it becomes that kind of gross slush, the roads become littered with all of the sand and salt that was used to de-ice the roads a month ago. Totally fine for cars — but where does said salt all end up after a few days of snow-free roads? The bike lanes, of course! I discovered this quickly (and unpleasantly) after a day or so when I pulled my beloved Hot Tamale road bike back out of hiding and rode it to work and home. It felt great to be back on my favorite bike and I remembered all over again why I love biking so much.
And then, that dreaded sound hit. The sound of your chain squeaking and grinding all of that gritty sand with each pedal rotation. At first, I was just straight up confused — it was a new chain and I took super good care of my bike! But then one day I got smart and pulled the chain off to wipe it down. And what did I find? All of that glorious sand stuck in every little nook and cranny of my freewheel. Whyyyyyy??!!
Good thing we were still in a full-swing global warming week so it was warm enough to wash the Hot Tamale outside on the back porch. 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!” And then you just can’t look at your sad bike anymore so you turn the other way and go get yourself a glass of kombucha. Or whatever kale-loving people are drinking these days.
The beloved Hot Tamale’s pieces, after being scrubbed clean, now lay out to dry.
Anyway, I realize this is now getting way off topic from what I learned about biking in MN winter and why I love winter biking so much. So, I will leave you with this: Winter biking has taught me a lot about dressing for whatever temperature Mother Nature decides to throw at us, the importance of cleaning out your chain frequently, and that you should smile at other bikers you pass on your way to wherever you’re going because no matter why you bike, we are the people that make the biking community beautiful.
Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February of 2016. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.