By Christopher Cudworth
This winter in Illinois is a tough one as far as riding goes. My mountain bike needs a tuneup, but I’d still have gone out a couple times by now if weather had allowed.
Yes, my Wimp Factor may be winning the day. Up in Decorah, Iowa where I went to school they ride year round no matter the temperature. Their fat-tire bikes handle snow-packed backroads with ease, I hear tell.
They have a great system with the roads up there. They don’t really shovel them so much as brush off the surface snow and pack down the rest. I put in plenty of running miles on those hilly backroads in the depth of cold, cold winters. So I know. The footing on packed snow is actually pretty good. Consistency can vary, but 10-mile runs on packed snow roads were a common currency of winter training.
They put in 40-mile rides in frigid temps with no problem because half of them are Norwegian, and we all know Norwegians cannot freeze not matter how long you keep them out in the cold. That’s why they’re always smiling. Not really. Their faces are frozen that way.
I’m not Norwegian even though I attended Luther College. I’m Scottish, which means I thrive in nasty wet weather that makes others cringe. I’ve ridden my bike in rainstorms so heavy I almost wound up naked by the time I got home.
But riding in the cold requires at least marginally safe road conditions, and we have not had that here in Illinois. Cars can’t even stop at intersections. So it’s not my riding that I am concerned about around here. It’s the drivers. It would be easy to get killed by someone sliding through an intersection or off the road right now.
Which likely explains why so many bikes are either stuck in dry basements or garages, or else left outside to suffer in the cold, snowy weather. We’re all waiting for a break here. The temps will reach 35 this weekend. Just right for a ride. If the roads will let me.