Bundle up and be inspired: Winter cyclists of Minnesota


I’m always amazed when I see/read about people doing year-round cycle commutes in places like Minnesota or Northern Europe, and then baffled why there are so few in nice sunny California.

When I was up in Northern MN over Thanksgiving I saw a lot of people cruising around on their Fat Tire Bikes during a major snow storm.

That’s a cool post. My wife and I commute through the winter in Anchorage on fat tire bikes. There are so many people riding them now that you almost don’t need one. That is, two days after a dump, the trails are so well packed out by the all the snowbikers, that you can ride pretty well with a regular mountain bike. There’s a negative feedback loop going on or something.

And long-time local xc skiers all agree that there are many fewer skiers now in the woods than there used to be. Lots of people have switched to, or just started out on, snow bikes. From my experience, there is very rarely a faster method of human-powered travel through the snow. Riding the squirrly single tracks through the taiga on a sunny day is a good day out!


I live in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it was recently -50C with the windchill (-38 absolute). A friend of mine posted this to his Facebook page, which made me smile (and wish I didn’t have to drive):

You can’t see it,
but here on my bike,

under my -40 rated boots and two layers of socks,
long underwear, jeans, and bib snowpants,
undershirt, sweater, vest, and winter shell,
scarf, balaclava, ski goggles and helmet,

I’m smiling.

Because I’m almost warm.
And you’re stuck in traffic.


Here’s the hot tip from a bike mechanic for any year-round cyclists - FBinNY’s Chain-L #5.

This stuff was developed by a veteran bike mechanic as the ultimate tenacious wet-weather lube. You can ride every day in the wet for weeks before needing to re-apply. Also great for worn and/or noisy drivetrains.

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I’ve got it comparatively easy down in Atlanta, but I’m representing. It was below freezing this morning–27f–and even colder during the polar vortex. One advantage the far northerners have is that, in their cold, the precipitation is snow. In my cold, it may be 35-40f, but if you’re soaking wet from rain, it’s miserable. as a messenger, I rode through two winters of our frequent rain; so y’know, I’m down, too–right guys? :stuck_out_tongue:


Solidarity and respect to the year round bikers of MN. I biked year round in Chicago, but as bad as cold as it is there, it’s not as cold as MN.

I do it in Toronto but streets only (no trails) since I can’t fit fat tires on my bike.
In fact, I only ride in the winter as I use other transportation in the summer. Weird!

This is my second winter riding in Minneapolis. It’s actually pretty easy; I’ve moved closer to work so I don’t have to go on icy, windy bridges over the river any more. In the nice months I ride a fixie with tiny tires but these days I’m on a department store mountain bike. Two inch wide tires with giant knobs and super wide handlebars.

These depictions of “cyclists of Minneapolis” usually end up focusing almost entirely on white folks and skew male, as well. Wish that weren’t the case; there are a lot of the rest of us out here, too.

I’ve known a guy that lived in Mpls but worked in Eagan. His commute consisted of biking on the Mendota Bridge, 12 months of the year. He used to fill his pants legs with the old-timey computer forms (sprocket holed stuff), and then wrapping the outside with rubber bands before heading home. I saw him on the bridge a few times, and it was scary to see. I could only envision a truck bumping him off the side of the bridge at night, and his body not being found until late in the spring.

The Mendota Bridge is 4000 feet long, and the ground clearance is 100 feet above the Minnesota River. From a canoe, the piers of this bridge has some of the scariest and biggest spiders I’ve ever seen in the wild.

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