While many cycle commuters call a halt to two-wheeled travel during the winter, Chicago’s dedicated bikers are still pedalling away.
The Windy City is one of the coldest urban areas in the United States come the snowy season, but that doesn’t seem to stop the city’s keenest cyclists.
The lowest temperature on record in Chicago was a bitter – 27 F/ -33C on January 20, 1985, with 36mph wind gusts and wind chills at -93F/ -69C.
And this week many riders will be marking the occasion, as they do every year, with a celebratory ride.
Julie Sherman, former president of Chicago Cycling Club, said: “In winter, sometimes I think you need that motivation that there’s going to be a social gathering. Then you think: ‘If I can do this now, think what I can do when spring rolls around.’ “
One group pledges to meet up at the bike-friendly Handlebar on Chicago’s North Avenue for a “Snow Ride” every time the city gets a dump of two or more inches of snow.
This Saturday (Jan 19) the Midnight Marauders, another posse of intrepid cyclists who meet monthly, will hook up late at the Billy Goat bar before heading out into the winter chill.
A special Bike to Work day is also being held on Friday (Jan 18), offering commuters who brave the winter weather some free advice and a warming drink on their way into the office. The event, in Daley Plaza, will also include a free raffle for prizes from the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.
And community group West Town Bikes, 2418 W. North will also be offering riders a helping hand this week, with a Winter Cycle Workshop on Saturday. They’ll be telling two-wheelers how to keep their steeds in top condition during the off season, with a tune up and info on how to identify drive train wear, tru a wheel, finishing off with a group ride.
The Chicago Bike Winter group is urging riders not to give up too.
It says: “If you’ve ever thought about how nice it would be to drive less, you can learn how to make your bicycle an all weather, all occasion transportation tool. A bike in motion tends to stay in motion, a bike in a basement tends to stay in the basement – even on the “nice” days.”
To find out more about winter cycling, check out www.bikewinter.org. The website’s aimed at Chicagoans, but there are lots of hints for winter cycling, whereever you ride.
Or have a mosey on over to www.icebike.com for some even madder ideas.