Well today snow fell on Walla Walla and so I thot I had better take a trial bike run to see how this Winter bike commuting will go.
I put on my foul weather gear, helmet, goggles and gloves and pedaled out of our driveway….
Initially I rode in one of the grooves in the snow that had been made by previous auto traffic, but then ventured into the snow closer to the curb as a car going the same direction as I was going got closer.
This riding in the snow was not too bad; but I will acknowledged that it takes the same kind of pedal energy as riding an incline does.
Okay, so it will take me a little longer to get to work in the morning. But it won’t be too bad since traffic is rather minimal at 5am and so I can dominate the path created by cars. The ride home will take a little longer too, and I must share the road with more cars who probably are not expecting a bike.
As I rode along I began to experience some of the slipping that Winter riding provides.
I had read somewhere that one should put weight over their rear tire, so I did that. But there was still some slidding going on, although I did manage to correct things; even if it meant stopping briefly.
At one point I did forsake the road and took to the sidewalk for a bit. Note: Thanks to those people who shovel their walks, you made it a little easier.
My goggles did start to fog up and so I had to remove them for safety.
I was aware that car drivers were probably not expecting to see bicyclists out and about and so I tried to watch out for them, and give them room–although if I was in a car I probably would not have given them the extra attention that I did being on a bike.
The end result of my ride was that I thot studded bike tires would be a plus in my commute and so I ventured (okay I admit it… I drove) to a local bike shop and purchased two studded bike tires. I had a nice conversation with the man who works there about Winter riding. He shared that last year he used bicycle chains, and that he once made his own studded bike tires. But this year he was using conventional studded bike tires. Also in my drive to and from the bike store I noticed 2 bicycle commuters riding along.
The final verdict of all of this is: Yes, a person can commute during the Winter months. And yes, Winte bicycle commuting is not as convienent as riding in other Seasons. But I must admit, in beginning the Winter bike commute (even if I mix some car-driving days into my week) I feel like I am crossing the line from a guy who rides a bike, to being a guy who is a bicycle commuter… I almost feel like I am joining a club; although I don’t know who the other members are.
Here is a news piece about Winter Bike Commuters in Chicago:
Props and thanks to my friends Fr. Jesse P., Bill S., and Carl K. who have given me advice and encouragement regarding bike riding in Winter. Also props to Willow N. from the Chicago area (formerly from Eastern WA) who responded to my email to the Chicago Bike Winter peoples regarding advice for Winter bike riding.
Some websites that might be of interest to Winter bike riders:
+Chicago Bike Winter
+Winter cycling? Don’t get cold feet.
+Bike Advocacy (from Utah)
+Winter Bike Commuting: 10 Tips to Ride Safe
And to all of my car driving friends– Remember that you are sharing the road with bicycle riders, even in the Winter. Bike riders are still out there, even when there is snow on the ground.