Looking Back on Winter 2012-13

Five!  That’s how many Chicago winters I have biked through.  I counted over and over because five seems too high, but my math is correct.

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Biking through my first winter, 2008-09, seemed so dramatic – I was amazed at my achievement. That was a particularly snowy winter, and I biked through all kinds of extreme weather to prove to myself that I could.

My second, third and fourth winters all seem like a blur now (except I distinctly remember bicycling the day after the great 2011 blizzard!), but it’s all documented in the LGRAB archives.

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This winter started not so great, but I did not let that stop me.  And there was soon cheerful news, as Chicago celebrated the installation of its first downtown protected bike lane.

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There were some seriously freezing days, when I was very thankful for my hand and toe warmers.  But many of the days were sunny and not too extremely cold.

wore skirts and dresses almost every day, along with tights, of course.

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Most of all, I took time to appreciate the unique beauty of biking through winter.

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 Now I am ready for spring!

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How about you – did you bike through winter?  Was it your first time?  What stands out to you the most, looking back?

  • http://twitter.com/hyedie Hyedie Hashimoto

    Oh man! Your photos are gorgeous as always, Dottie!!

    This is my 4th winter riding as well, and like you the first one was memorable because I felt like it was such an accomplishment.

  • Sarah W.

    Still love that red jacket, Dottie! Glad you had a good winter.

  • Lizzyisi

    I have biked all winter the last three–in the winter I bike the Lakefront Trail (the rest of the year, I’m in the street). What stands out to me in particular about this year is how few days the Oak Street curve was impassable. What always stands out to me about biking in the winter is how peaceful the LFT is.

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  • Adam Herstein

    I biked all winter. Aside from a few cold weeks, it wasn’t too bad. 20°F and over I can handle. Any lower than that, I still ride, but it’s not terribly pleasant. I’m glad it’s been in the 30′s for a few weeks now.

  • Kellie Stapleton

    Yes, I did bike through winter, and it was my first. I’m in northern CA, so not so cold as you, but low 30′s at 6 AM is pretty cold for us. And it forced me to look and adjust to proper biking layers; a good lesson. Now it’s in the upper 40′s and light all the way home, which means I can lengthen my commute at the end of the day.

  • tailz

    That jacket and photos have you kicking ass and taking names. Go get ‘em girl!

  • Maria Simpson

    Dottie, your jacket reminds me of an Andrew Wyeth painting. I’m looking forward to spring too!

  • Rebecca Olds

    Hi Dottie.

    This has been my fourth winter cycling but the first winter I have cycled straight through! And it wasn’t because we had an easier winter – quite the reverse. In previous years, I just didn’t have the practical experience and judgement to cope with heavy rain and/or strong winds and/or snow and/or ice — reading everything I could find on how to do this just wasn’t enough — yes, glean what you can from others’ wisdom but there’s no substitute for doing it yourself. Anyway, I found myself defeated by punctures (debris under snow + wrong tyres), getting good clothes too wet or muddy, getting sinus infections. This year, I don’t know, finally all my hard lessons came together and I’ve managed to get it right and keep going. Sure, a few mistakes but never disastrous — that 30 minute ride with not-quite-windproof-enough cyling tights has a hot bath at the end of it, after all!

    My lessons learnt: http://velovoice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/too-cold-to-cycle-its-not-weather-its.html

    First time I’ve commented here. Love your blog. And love that red coat!

  • http://twitter.com/TomWyland Tom Wyland

    One obvious difference in past winters… it seems like you rode your Betty Foy the entire winter! Did you keep the Dutch Bike for icy days only this year? Or was there some other reason for the switch?

  • steve_a_dfw

    I think this year was my last winter commute…

  • Scott

    Dottie, you always have great winter cycling recap posts!

    This was also my fifth Chicago cycling winter. I got the Dutch Oma bike in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2008/09 that I figured out how to wear warm (regular) clothes and ride all winter. The city has make so much progress in that time. When I started, I had never seen another Dutch bike in Chicago. Now this style of practical city bike seems to be everywhere, almost 50% of my commute to work is on protected bike lanes, and it seems there are more good changes in store.

    I credit this blog as playing a key part in Chicago’s transformation. I know you have inspired many people here (and around the world, for that matter) to get out on their bikes, and to reap all the benefits of cycling. When I started, I felt like I was out there all alone. But now, when I read this blog and others, I know there is a bicycling community in Chicago, and that we are being heard when we ask for safer, better streets.

    Thanks so much for your contribution, Dottie! And here’s to hoping that the next five winters will be as good as the last five!

  • amidnightrider

    I did 5 winters of commuting a bit south of Boston. 2009 was my last winter commute. Biking commuting is the only thing I miss about working. I have done the commute route a couple of times since retiring but it’s not the same.

    I still ride every day, but my commute is to the gym then the coffee shop. Love it.

  • Sarah

    Hi Dottie, Very new to the bike world (I…um…don’t own one) but am looking to make a purchase as I just started working 3.5 miles from my house (vs. 37). I live in Minneapolis. My entire ride to work will be a slight decline, my ride from work at a slight incline. If you were forced to choose between your Betty Foy and your Oma, which would you choose? The distance is short, hauling stuff is essential, and in MN – winter happens. Something akin to the Oma for me?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668348490 Issa Manak

    This is my first post, I stumbled across your blog from another one. This was my first winter riding, I was doing great until I was in a car accident with a car. Definally scared me for awhile, however this week was my first week back and I was really happy to get back on it. I almost forgot how amazing and freeing it is to ride.

    Ive been cycling 5 years now (NC, Charlotte for 3) and Im glad to be back, this city is by far more bike friendly than charlotte ever was and will be.