When I first moved to Edmonton I had never heard of the concept of cycling in the winter. When I saw people biking with snow on the ground I thought they were crazy. But, a wise friend once told me “it’s no different than cross country skiing”. Cross country skiing? That’s something I can relate to. Gradually, I met more and more people who rode in the winter. This was inspirational. I’ll also admit I’m a bit competitive and thought if they could do it, so could I.
I liked the idea of saving the money I would have spent taking transit but, I LOVE lattes. So, I convinced myself that I was only allowed a latte if I either biked, ran, or walked to work. Since starting cycling in the winter I have saved almost $60 dollars in transit! Imagine the savings in fuel and parking if I was driving to work.
As far as gear goes, I picked up a bike off Kijiji. It cost me $150 for a bike already equipped with studded tires. I got the bike in November and all it needed was a new chain. I’m embarrassed to say it took me one month to purchase the chain and another to put it on. So, finally, as of January 5, I was fully equipped and good to go. If I wasn’t treating myself to lattes, the cost of my winter bike would be paid for in money saved by the end of February!
My new (to me) bike has excellent traction on the trails, the only time I need to be more cautious is in thick snow. I set my seat low and when I come down hills my pace is pretty slow. I even drag one foot on the ground to make sure I’m in control when I go down hills. I learned this foot down approach from another winter rider. Even at a snail’s pace my ride is less than 30 minutes! That’s the same amount of time it takes me to grab the bus in the morning door to door. So, no more waiting for the bus or feeling frustrated when I miss it.
Most of my route is on trails because I’m still not comfortable on roads. But, as Edmonton moves forward with The Way We Move, and more people hop on their bikes in the winter, it will make the roads less intimidating for us all.
To sum up my experience, I wish I had tried winter cycling years ago!
Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society has organized a winter bike ride through the river valley and along the Mill Creek Ravine during the Flying Canoe Volant. It’s an excellent opportunity to try out winter cycling and celebrate our winter city! Join the Brite Lite Winter Nite Bike Ride on Feb 6.
There are lots of Tips for Winter Cycling from the City of Edmonton.
Show your support for mode shift in Edmonton and take the pledge to leave your car at home and ride your bike at least 1-day-a-week. Winter riding not for you? That’s okay, there are lots of other ways to get around in Edmonton. Instead, incorporate walking, carpooling, or transit into your life and take the 1-day-a-week pledge.