Yesterday was the first (calendar) day of spring, so I suppose this is as good a time as any to recap my winter riding experience, no matter what the weather throws at us. This was my first winter commuting in Minnesota and the first winter here that I can remember. The last winter I lived in Minnesota I was wearing a red size 2T snowsuit and I had a very tenuous grasp on how to ride a bike.
Photo credit: my parents
Image shows a toddler bundled up in a red snowsuit with a hood. She is riding a blue push bike on the sidewalk. All of the grass is brown and there is some snow still on the ground. Caption: Me then.
So I declare it: I survived the winter. Final exams hit me pretty hard in December, but I've been riding as often as possible since January. This winter I learned to ride on ice and how to dress for winter riding (still working on that). I got lost, lost circulation in my toes, changed my socks a whole bunch, fell, went on a very icy Sober Ride, and rode with a windchill of -10 F. My scarf froze pretty often, but I never got any (un)beardsicles, so I suppose that's a good goal for the next cold snap.
Photo credit: Lowrah
Image of a woman on a bicycle. It is night. The bike path is covered in snow, with one bright spot illuminated by the bike's headlight. The woman is wearing snowboots, black tights, a winter coat, a scarf, ski goggles, and a helmet. Caption: Me now.
Like younger me, who could easily put both feet on the ground while on her first bike-like object, nowadays me started the winter with the same scenario--seat all the way down, able to stand over my bicycle. It really helped to know that I could touch down if I needed to and I was able to gradually raise my seat as I got more comfortable. Riding with some winter veterans also really helped, as did all the advice I got at the winter skillshare (I will reference that one again and again).
There were plenty of mornings when I insisted that it was just too cold. Some days I took the bus and rode around the neighborhood when I got home. But most of those "too cold" days I rode to work anyways, knowing that it wouldn't take too long outside for my brain to freeze and make me believe this was a good idea. Wake up, get dressed, go outside, swear a lot for the first few blocks. Something changes, usually by the time I hit the Greenway. I get to work and change into clean clothes and as I'm stretching I think, "Hey, I did it again. Good job, self. Good job, bike." Every post and news article I've seen about winter riding seems to ask the question, "So why do you ride in the winter?" Well, I ride all year because it makes me feel good. So there.