I must confess, I have never taken my bike off its winter rack to go for a ride, much less considered it as a viable winter commuting method. However, when I was approached regarding this topic my interest was piqued. Not because I originally thought it would be fun to ride my bike to work in central-Wisconsin through blistering winter temperatures or through snow, salt, sand and ice. But, I began to pay attention on my own commute (in my car) and I noticed something: people do bike to work on a daily basis, even in winter. I started to consider the holistic benefit of commuting on two wheels rather than four. Commuting by bike would result in fewer miles on the car, which could extend its life span, less need for routine maintenance or filling up at the pump. Also, could the euphoria I feel after a 5:30 am work out, which makes the days seem to fly by quicker and increase my ability to accomplish tasks more efficiently, become even more pronounced with an added morning bicycle commute?
I spoke with a friend who is an avid winter commuter. She said it’s really not that hard, and takes only a few more minutes than her commute by car. Having the right combination of layers and protective gear is a must. But what about the actual bike? Do you need a new one, or a special one to make winter commuting viable? No, in fact, she advised, you probably would want a basic, second-hand resale bike.
So, next I pulled up google search and began reading up on winter biking. The advice, encouragement and information amounted to convince me even further than winter biking in Central Wisconsin is not only doable, but could be a lot of fun! If you’re more like me, though, you may want to start slow and progress. Or wait until spring to feel more comfortable in the saddle. Whatever your initial feelings toward winter bike commuting, or bicycle commuting in general, I urge you to do your own research and talk to people who already are commuting every day in areas just like our own in Central-Wisconsin. Ask their advice on how to get started and what tips they have up their sleeves for maintaining a successful commute, even through winter!
by Ashley J. Ormson