Profile of a winter cyclist
Winter cycling is cool. Sometimes it is actually cold. But, with the proper clothes and equipment, it is a great way to be outside and experience the awe and beauty of winter in both the city and on the trail.
The hearty winter cyclists that keep the pedals turning all year long are brethren to skiers, ice skaters and ice fisherman, and use some of the same equipment.
Warm mittens, snow boots and pants, parkas and goggles are all non-cycling specific clothing that are perfect for winter cycling.
Then there is the bike; skinny tires are out, replaced by knobby or other specialty tires for needed traction in snow and ice, disc brakes are good for more consistent stopping power, and a hearty frame will better withstand lots of salt.
While winter cyclists are still a minority, more people are seeking fitness and transportation on two wheels in the winter.
One of the Heights’s winter bike commuters is Cleveland Heights resident Alice Stratton. She rides one mile to her job as physical education teacher at Fairfax Elementary School.
“Normally,” said Stratton, “I ride on any day that it isn’t too icy.” When she first began winter riding, she would abandon the bike as soon as temperatures dropped to below freezing. Now, she rides as long as the temperatures are above 20 degrees.
Stratton said she gets odd looks at school—from other teachers. “They think I’m crazy,” she said. “But one teacher commutes by car from Hudson, and she said she felt like crying because she’s so envious when she sees me on my bike.”
Stratton’s winter commuting machine is a mountain bike with fat nubby tires “because of potholes,” said Stratton, adding, “it's better on snow and ice.” She takes main roads when it’s snowy, because they’re better plowed than side streets. "But, side streets have less traffic and are a more relaxing ride,” she said.
“It feels good to begin and end the day outdoors, using a different part of your brain and breathing fresh air,” Stratton said.
Cyclists interested in learning more about winter cycling will find information and advice at www.icebike.org.
Heights Bicycle Coalition
The Heights Bicycle Coalition was formed in 2010 to make the Heights more bicycle-friendly. The group’s mission is to educate and encourage citizens to use bicycles as a sustainable and healthy form of transportation and recreation. And . . . to have fun!