Winter Ride

By Bryan • canada, Kingston • 13 Jan 2010

The uber-urban citizens of Copenhagen ride like crazy during the winter.

Canadians…who like to pride themselves on their rustic hardiness and terrified of winter and snow.  I’ve the one or two public meetings I’ve attended regarding transportation (one was in terms of transit, the other, cycling) tortured cries of “what about the snow?” in an attempt to nullify any progressive action that may be taken to improve transportation conditions within the city.

I’m not afraid of the snow.  I love it and this winter represents my first opportunity to rip up the streets on a bike during a snowy winter.  I didn’t have a bike last year, and snow didn’t exist in Victoria or Nanjing (only in fairy tales).  Riding the snow can’t be that bad.

Another big reason is that one can become slightly addicted to the mobility offered by two wheels, probably much in the same fashion as one becomes addicted to four wheels.  I live on the extreme edge of the twenty minute walking radius from campus…a strange netherworld where walking the distance more than once in a day is frustrating and where taking the bus isn’t much faster.

At first I was a little apprehensive about snow riding…the usual…black ice, traction, cold and the ever-present crazy drivers are items that come to mind.  Having ridden most of December and going strong into January, I’ve realized that the real enemy for a winter rider in Kingston is the brown paste-like substance that is created by mixing snow, salt, sand and bizarre Great Lake weather systems together.  That stuff is filthy…absolutely filthy. It’s all over my bike, my bag and my jacket.

Fighting the cold appears the be the number one concern floating around winter riding forums.  I understand people’s concerns regarding cold…a lot of people don’t like it, and fair enough.  Yet while wearing warmer clothing appears to be an obvious no-brainer, it seems to scare the shit out of people.

Fish-tailing is inevitable, but if one is skillful and rides in a controlled manner, it is quite easy to deal with.  One would be quite amazed at the ability of a good mountain tire to slice through snow and grip ice. 

Brown, salty street paste aside, my chief concern remains that of normal riding…the auto traffic. Vehicles are vicious enough on the major arterials when the bike lanes are open but a rider actually in the main lane, in the winter (gasp)…seems to frighten (and piss) the crap out of a lot of motorists.

Bike are pretty hardy, but a clearing of cycle lanes would be nice and might help those a little uncertain about winter riding feel a little more confident.  And for Christ-sakes…shovel out the bike racks…marking them with orange snow poles doesn’t help very much.

Snow riding is fun, slightly challenging, but not nearly has difficult or cold as one would think…although it is a little (ok…quite) dirty in Kingston.

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