More and more folks are picking up the two-wheeled steed as their primary or preferred choice for transportation (for all the obvious health, fun and green reasons). Then slam/bang Chicago’s winter temps hit and..guess what?… they keep biking throughout the city! You could be one of those intrepid, healthy and hearty souls. Its really not such a big deal to bike in Winter, it just takes a little knowledge, some simple preparations and you could be biking to work, school, a friends and more in a winter wonderland.

Included here is the welcoming salutation from the Bike Winter homepage. If you are thinking of riding into colder weather, they are the group to give you tips, experienced advice–as well as a lot of fun social and active rides to celebrate Chicago Winters on bike.     -E.O.

Bike Winter Welcome: Encouraging Chicago All-Season Cycling!

Each winter, bicyclists in Chicago, and other cities hold events to promote winter bike riding. By taking part in Bike Winter, you will have the opportunity to have fun, socialize with other cyclists, and learn winter biking skills.

The idea is very simple—with the proper gear and a little determination, you can continue to enjoy bicycling year round. Add in the camaraderie of hundreds of riders and dozens of exciting events and you’ve got Bike Winter!

While riding in the summer seems normal, cycling through the winter seems, to the uninitiated, as crazy as trying to drive downtown during the Taste of Chicago. However, during many Chicago winter days, the main obstacles are not snow and ice, but simply cold temperatures and wind. During these days, if you know the secrets to dressing for winter cycling, you can cycle while feeling comfortable, warm, and pleasant. During the typical Chicago winter day, extreme road conditions, such as heavy blizzards or ice storms, are the exception, not the rule. Although cyclists and motorists alike may legitimately avoid travel during these extreme conditions, cyclists may find that they can otherwise enjoy and use their bikes during most winter days. Besides, Winter weather isn’t as bad as you might think.

Bike Winter was born out of a desire to keep bikes out of the basement during our six months of winter. If you’ve ever thought about how nice it would be to drive less (or even be car-free), you can learn how to make your bicycle an all weather, all occasion transportation tool. A bike in motion tends to stay in motion, a bike in a basement tends to stay in the basement. . .even on the “nice” days.

Fortunately, those of us who have taken the winter biking plunge know that it is easy and often more pleasant than gasping for breath during ozone action days! So, each winter, we organize a series of recreational and educational events to inspire cyclists to stay in the saddle year round, regardless of rain, sleet or snow.

Highlights of Chicago Bike Winter events:

See the calendar for the schedule of the Chicago Bike Winter events. (Check back later in the year as many events remain to be added to the calendar.) The following describes some of the events that are already planned.

  1. Bike Winter workshops: Do you enjoy cycling? Do you wish that the cycling season would never end? Attend the free Bike Winter workshops and learn more about using your bike for transportation year round. More on the workshop. Some of the winter cycling tips from the expo are also available online. Contact the Bike Winter chair (see contact information) if you want a free winter cycling workshop presented to your bike club or other organization in the City of Chicago.
  2. Santa Rampage: Cyclists gear up in various Claus inspired outfits and regale harried downtown shoppers on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. More Rampage information.
  3. Baby Doll Polka Club ride: You’d think that a 15-mile evening ride during the brutal cold and long nights of January would be sparsely attended and brief. But not when Bike Winter has arranged for the Polkaholics to play at at Chicago polka club. For the fifth year in a row, cyclists will meander and wiggle their toes through Chicago, drawn by the promise of polka. Polka Ride information
  4. Scavenger Hunt: Teams of cyclists compete for prizes in a scavenger hunt. In a previous scavenger hunt, points were awarded for: identifying road maintenance problems that affect cyclists and calling them into the city’s hotline; placing bike winter stickers on bike racks (extra points for the stickers placed farthest away); gathering artifacts from various ethnic restaurant districts and getting a Bike Winter tattoo (which someone actually did!).
  5. Snow Biking: While some people like to sled down snowy hills, some cyclists like to bike down snowy hills.
  6. Other Events: One of the key principles of Bike Winter is simply “Bikes Are Fun!” So check the calendar for details on other Bike Winter events where you can have fun and meet with other cyclists. Other events that the season might include are a Tiki Ride,an ‘open bike’ poetry reading night, the annual bicycle art show, a New Year’s Day Ride, a film festival, snow ball fights, and more.

If you want to get involved with Bike Winter or learn more about it, please contact us or visit www.bikewinter.org

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