Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Bike to Work Day

A couple of weeks ago, I learned about International Bike to Work Day on Feb 13, 2015.  I was up for the challenge and immediately signed up to ride that day.  I've ridden in cold weather before, but only about minus 5C or warmer.  When that morning came, the temperature read -22C (-33C with the windchill), but it was a clear sunny day, and I remained undaunted.  My original plan was to combine biking and transit for the 35 km, but I didn't have that much time to spare, so I threw my bike in the back of my truck, parked about 10 km away from work, and biked the rest of the way.

Here I am riding the Tom Taylor Trail (check out the bare pavement):

I have a few observations from my winter ride:

1. I was quite warm, though my fingers and toes started to get uncomfortable toward the end.  I could have used warmer boots and gloves (mitts) to help with this.
2. My mountain bike took more effort than I expected, particularly up the hills, for several reasons:
- slower bike than I'm used to (thicker tires, no clip-in shoes)
- terrain is a little rough in the winter
- things don't lubricate as well in the cold (e.g. my bike wouldn't shift to low gear for an unknown reason)
3. Newmarket has awesome winter trail maintenance; Aurora does not
4. It was a fun way to start the day and I'd definitely like to do it more often.
5. Most people I talk to think it's crazy to bike in winter.  It's certainly not considered normal in the 905.

I find it interesting to see which cities have high participation in winter bike to work day.  It's an indicator that they have normalized winter cycling.

# of Participants in 2015 Winter Bike to Work Day
York Region - 3 (including me)
Mississauga - 2
Brampton - 2
Hamilton - 13
Toronto - 44
Peterborough - 44
Thunder Bay - 21
Ottawa - 115
Montreal - 292
Winnipeg - 179
Saskatoon - 38
Edmonton - 219
Calgary - 292
Ankorage - 194
Minneapolis - 275
Halifax - 62

2015 Winter Bike to Work Day made headlines in some Canadian cities: Edmonton | Halifax | Winnipeg

I'm hoping that it will catch on here in York Region too.

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