Repeat After Me: Winter Commuters Aren't Heroes

Winter Commuting in OntarioMy winter bike commuting setup is coming together. I’m feeling prematurely proud of myself for simply intending to commute by bike through a Flagstaff winter for the first time. Then along comes this article and photo from Ontario’s “Globe and Mail” to knock me off my high, er,   saddle.

Odds are that this true believer spent money winterizing his ride, bought studded tires, wears reflective clothing and may have even equipped his ride with disk brakes, which are not as affected by adverse weather conditions.

This fellow has taken the appropriate precautions. He loves cycling and won't quit when the going gets cold. The worst thing you can do to him is ignore him when he huffs into the office in his gear waiting for his chorus of gasps. If he wants to bike, cool, but he's no hero. The guy who keeps jogging through the winter is the true maniac. He battles icy sidewalks and arctic temperatures and he has to run by all those coffee shops, delis and bakeries without once stopping.

The cyclist you really should be concerned about is the one with his winter hood on (who needs peripheral vision?) and his hands stuffed in his pockets, and who is biking on bald summer tires. These guys aren't cycling to make a statement and, if they are, that statement is "I have no money." These are the folks who give drivers the jitters. The only thing they are prepared for is getting into an accident.

He has a point, though.

If we want our winter commute to be seen as a heroic, we are also saying, “You mere mortals couldn’t handle it.” And if they internalize this message, they won’t ever try. Exactly the opposite of what a cycling advocate would want.

I was looking forward to bragging about my winterized bike here on this blog. I even took pictures today. This article won’t stop me. But when I do write about it, I will try very hard to be nonchalant about it, and show no signs of hidden superpowers.

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