Why the winter bike commute is fun

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Monday, December 03, 2007
By Yokota Fritz

Warren asks "WHY?" about his bike commute today when it was 19°F (-7°C) outside. I live in sunny and warm California now, but some benefits that I recall: What are some other side benefits to commuting on bike in the winter cold?

Speaking of the cold, Sue has posted more bike haikus from Illinois. CICLE posted something about Milwaukeeeans who bike through the winter. One Love One Gear posts links to several winter cycling resources.

Photo: "Ice Scraper" by Marilylle Soveran.

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To be serious about it for a moment, perhaps the biggest benefit I've had has been better health. I can't remember the last time I've had to take a sick day. Perhaps it is the fresh air. Maybe being outside in cold temperatures for an hour a day increases your resistance to sickness. I've got to imagine the sweating, running nose and dislodged "gunkies" that happen during the ride get some of the toxins out of your system...

My ego also likes all the comments about my being "hard core."
It's been pouring rain like crazy here in Portland, OR. Started Saturday sometime and just kept going. Got my rain pants out this morning that I bought two months ago and hadn't needed. Yay! Don't like the look or price of booties so the water poured through the vents of my Specialized shoes. Boo! Put my socks in front of the portable heater I'd brought down to the office and they were toasty warm and dry. Yay! Walked out of the office and found my rear tire flat. Boo! A bike bag is on my Christmas list so I can carry tire wrenches, patches and a pump but in the meantime ... I just carry an EMT tool for tightening stuff.

Thank goodness that I could call the wife, have her pick me up so we could pick up child #1 and the bike trailer, then get child #2 and #3.

People were a lot tougher before cell phones.

This is going to be my first winter commuting. So far, it's been a mild winter and it's all been good. Ask me again in January, though.
Here in Minneapolis, we're having a proper winter -- the first for some time. We've 3-4" of snow and more is supposed to come today. As a Northern people you need to make friends with winter and enjoy it or you'll go insane, and not in a good way. People who ski (downhill and XC), snowmobile and snowshoe look at me as if I'm insane when I ride my bike.

What? There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing...

Don't be afraid to shake Ol' Man Winter's hand -- and then twist it behind his back, drop him, put a knee between his shoulder blades and ride his hoary carcass down the hill. It's fun.

Oh, and I'm with warren t; I love the moniker "hard core."

Jim, your storm in Portland made the national news. We had 15+ foot swells from your storm generating large 20 waves crashing against our coast beginning yesterday, and we're supposed to get your rain on Thursday.

Yam: I hear you. My co-workers would skip work to go skiing on fresh power days, after enduring a four hour drive just to get to the better ski areas. Our winter sport is built into the commute :-)
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