It’s That Time of Year – Chicago Bike Winter 2010 Kick-Off

Bike Winter

While it seems we’re just now putting away our flip-flops and reaching for sweatshirts,  it is that time of year when we start looking ahead to the changing conditions that year-round cyclists will be facing in the upcoming months. To make the thought of dark, cold-weather riding a bit more palatable, the folks who are a part of Bike Winter in Chicago held a seasonal kick-off meeting last week to discuss upcoming fun rides and events, along with cold-weather riding tips.

Bike Winter got started out of a desire to keep a year-round cycling event calendar going in Chicago. They wanted to keep cycling in the public eye as a fun activity and to demonstrate that you can live year-round in Chicago with a bike as your main mode of transport. More bikes, less cars. It’s a very grass-roots organization that is very welcoming to all types of riders. And if you’ve ever wondered about how we got bridge plates along bike lanes in places like the Cortland Street Bridge, well, you can thank the people who have been involved with Bike Winter. There were about 40 people at the meeting last week, and there were people from about every bike sub-group you can imagine and we all got along splendidly. Everyone introduced themselves by way of name, number of years riding all winter long, and a favorite ride.  There were newbie winter bike riders and folks who have been riding year-round for 17 years! I also learned that there is a “World Nude Bike Ride” every year in Chicago?! Who knew? And I also had not heard of what seemed to be everyone’s favorite ride -The Dreidel Rampage.

There are lot of great upcoming events like the Winter Bike Swap Meet & Urban Bike Expo that will be co-run with the Active Transportation Alliance hopefully sometime in February,  a Bike Film Fest perhaps at Facets in January, and a sort of wrap-up to the bike winter season in March,  an Art Show. There were also a lot of proposed rides that various people have volunteered to host. These are not official, and none of them have dates as of yet, but they do sound like fun:

  • Hanukkah Ride
  • Horrible sweater ride
  • Thrift store ride  (Oct. 3rd ?)
  • Ghost Stories ride
  • Roll and Bowl (also the Polka Ride ends at a bowling alley)
  • Winter Solstice
  • Frozen Snot Century
  • Dreidel/Santa Rampage
  • Neighborhood rides with Lee Diamond (some of these are already on the calendar at thechainlink.org)

I would suggest keeping an eye on the events calendar on the Bike Winter site, thechainlink.org, activetrans.org or my calendar so you don’t miss any fun events this season.

As for winter bike-riding tips, well here were a few. Bike Winter and some of the local bike shops host winter cycling clinics in the fall, check the above-mentioned calendars for dates and times.

  • Wear Layers – one big heavy coat is never a good idea on a bike
  • Keep your toes and fingers warm – invest in good socks/boots and gloves or mittens
  • Neck gaiters are a wonderful thing – less cumbersome than scarves
  • Wool – never cotton
  • Get your boots in one-size too large to allow for extra socks
  • Clean your bike – clean your bike – clean your bike
  • Read the Bike Winter web site -lots of links and articles there
  • Take a class at West Town Bikes

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