How people start winter biking

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Next week, I’m presenting at the Winter Cycling Congress. I’ll be talking about self-efficacy and some of the things that encourage people to get started biking, both in general and in the winter. A few weeks ago, I put together a survey to get a little more perspective on how people think about winter biking. I wanted to hear stories. What barriers did folks have to overcome to start winter biking? How exactly did they make that leap? Did they figure it out on their own, or did others help them?

I was seriously blown away by how many people were willing to talk about their experiences. In just 24 hours, the survey received over 350 responses. That means I’ve got a ton of snippets and stories to share. I’ll be sharing my favorite responses to each question over the next week. For this first one, let’s explore how people got started winter biking.

How did you get started winter biking?

“It was gradual. I’ve biked in Minneapolis for 4 years now. The first two years, I stopped biking in the winter due to the cold. Last year I kept biking in the cold but was afraid of falling so I would only ride when the roads were clear and didn’t dress properly so I was often cold. This year I got studded tires, a nice warm hat, and dressed better so now nothing can stop me!”

“I thought I would stop bike commuting when it got cold, and I just never stopped.”

“When relatively newish to biking, I was making friends in the bike crowd and social activities were bike-centric, so there was impetus to keep it up during the cold months. I fortunately had a close friend who brought me into cycling who was there to answer questions and make recommendations about equipment and clothes. His fiancé, who I was also quite close to, was new to biking as well, so we had one another for encouragement and support. We were attending a lot of social events together, so at least initially there was lot of hand holding. It helped a lot that the first winter I rode was pretty mild.”

“Biking is too much fun to not ride in the winter.”

“Saw my brother had gotten back in shape and was looking good after bike commuting, and thought I should do the same after letting myself go a bit. Immediately, I was hooked by the fresh air and exercise, and very soon found a great community of bikers in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.”

“I figured it out on my own, through trial and error. Lots of error.”

“Commuting to work. Then winter happened.”

“I loved how biking in the summer made me feel and wanted to continue somehow. I like how it bridges the gap between seasons of nice weather biking and xc skiing season. I really dont care for the gym so it works to have an outdoor activity all year.”

“I just didn’t want to stop biking”

“Resented the encroachment of winter on my biking season each year, and gradually push the biking season later and later, until we had a relatively mild winter a few years ago, and I finally figured out how to bike through the winter. It was a lot easier than I imagined!”

“My car broke down just before a blizzard in February 1995. I had to get from northeast Minneapolis to Stadium Village to beat a publication deadline for my comic strip. The blizzard was in full swing. I was terrified when I left home in blowing snow, riding icy roads; but I was all smiles when I arrived. It was a wonderful experience. I didn’t bother getting the car repaired, and I never got another one. Twenty winters later, I have no regrets.”

“I didn’t want to stop riding so I threw on a ton of clothes and gave it a shot.”

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