Since yesterday, it has snowed 12 inches in north Chicago and it’s still snowing. What’s a cyclist to do? Well, first, be grateful that’s it’s a Saturday and the commute to work is not an issue. Second, have fun with it! This morning I had to babysit my nephew and if I was late, my sister would have been late to work, so I caved and took the el. Later that afternoon, my husband stopped by – on his bike – after a trip to Sears to buy new boots, which were strapped to his rear rack. He then cycled the 2.5 miles home (6 miles total).
Since the forecast called for up to eight inches of snow and my cold is getting worse, I did not cycle today. The el ride was not too bad, but I missed my bike. It takes a lot to keep me off my bike, but I never force myself to ride if I feel it would be unsafe or really unpleasant. That’s one of my secrets to not burning out.
My other secret to riding my bike consistently is equally simple: cycling is almost always more desirable than the alternatives. Not only more desirable in all of the “biking will save the world” ways – no pollution, no dependence on foreign oil, no dangerous hazard to others, no isolation from my neighbors and surroundings, no obesity – but also more desirable in ways that most Americans would be interested in – Faster, Cheaper, More Comfortable.
I left for work this morning at the same time as my husband. Once he saw that I was going the same direction as him and taking the city streets, instead of the other way to the lake front path, he said, “I hope you’re not trying to keep up with me; I’m in a rush.” Whatever, buddy, I’m just trying to get to work.
…you might be riding your bike in Chicago. I only wish I had thought to take a picture!
Snow has returned after a one-week hiatus and is making my daily rides a bit more interesting. My new Schwalbe Winter studded tires are working overtime keeping me upright, which I greatly appreciate, and my snowman companion is having a blast. (He totally forgives me for accidentally ripping off his left arm. Really.)
My ride today was noteworthy for the disparate conditions in the morning and the evening. In the morning, strong headwinds coming from the south made the simple act of pedaling quite arduous. Not the worst wind I’ve encountered in the Windy City, but in the top 3. My mood lifted during the final leg of the commute, when it began snowing. I’m a sucker for snow, which is still a novelty for me after a lifetime of living in the South. So I stopped and took some pictures.
Many people seem to hibernate during winter, forgetting that the world is still out there. I was one of those people last winter, my first in Chicago. Now, on my bike every day, I’m reminded that the outdoors are just as interesting and even more beautiful on the bleakest days as on the sunniest days.
Hello, I’ll be the other contributor to this blog. I live in Chicago and ride my bike to work daily (a 14 mile round trip) plus pretty much everywhere else I go. It was not always so.
In June 2008, following the brilliant footsteps of my co-blogger Ms. T, I began riding a bike to work. I say “a” bike instead of “my” bike because I did not own a bicycle at the time. Other than the occasional beach cruiser rental while on vacation, I had not ridden a bike since junior high.
There are a lot of cyclists in Chicago, though, and a combination of seeing them everywhere, hearing about Trisha’s biking, and often walking by my neighborhood bike shop put the idea in my head that maybe I could ride a bike, too. At the end of May, armed with my “stimulus” check, I purchased a bike. I told the owner of the shop that I was thinking of maybe, possibly, perhaps trying to ride my bike to work downtown. She told me that it was totally doable, grabbed a Chicago Bike Map and showed me the best route to get from my house to the lake front bicycle path, which would take me along Lake Michigan straight to downtown. I was feeling pumped up, until I rode the bike home and around the block a bit. I was nervous, wobbly, and absolutely ridiculous. I thought I had wasted hundreds of dollars on a bike that I would never be able to ride around the block, let alone downtown.
Not ready to give up, I turned to my default activity – I read. A lot. About when to take the lane, what the door zone is, proper signaling, everything. Bicycling blogs were – and still are – the best source of on-the-ground information for cycling in the city. The next day, my husband and I rode our bikes to the lake front bicycle path. After 1.5 miles of white-knuckled (for me), totally quiet and peaceful side-street riding, we got to the bike path. Then something clicked: simply riding my bike down the crowded lane was the most fun I’d had in years. I’ve had a lot of fabulous food, fun vacation, wine consuming, good friend fun in the last few years, but this simple bike ride was somehow different. Later the same day I had a dentist appointment a couple of miles from my house. I decided to ride my bike instead of take the bus or drive. I felt self-assured and confident. I met drivers’ eyes. I firmly maintained my position in the road. It was pretty cool. Once I realized that I could control a lot of the situation by riding calmly and defensively, I was set. I rode my bike to work that Monday and I’ve been riding like that ever since.