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Are You Riding Your Bike This Winter? Our Guy in Minneapolis Is

Ride your bike in winter? This winter? Dedicated cyclist Jim Barbeau of REI Bloomington, Minn., is still pedaling day after day despite the tough winter that has hit much of the United States.

How tough? A Dec. 11-12 Midwest snowstorm dumped as many as 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota. And, the New York Times reports that the winter of 2011-11 already ranks No. 1 all-time in snow accumulation through January in Central Park. The Weather Channel reports that among the 10 heaviest single-storm snowfalls to hit New York City (dating back at least until 1872), 3 have fallen this winter—all exceeding 19 inches. Jim Barbeau

"Minneapolis has received not just some snow this winter, but mountains," Barbeau says. "Intersections have turned into valleys between gray/white cliffs of the stuff. You approach, and go through it, hoping that no one is coming from the other side. Unless it's a semi you cannot see them until they can see you, which is about a quarter of the way into any given intersection. It keeps us (cyclists) on our toes."

Barbeau reports that in Minneapolis snow fell during 22 days in December, and more dropped on the city in 14 of the first 16 days of January. "I'm pretty sure those other 2 days it was just too cold to snow," he says, "although we shattered the myth last Friday when it snowed on my morning commute with an air temperature of minus 19 degrees. That was without wind chill."

Barbeau is the author of a highly informative REI Expert Advice article, How to Enjoy Winter Bicycling. Jim enjoys the exercise and sense of freedom and independence the experience offers—even during brutal conditions.

"Snowplows and salt do a good job of keeping the streets clear in Minnesota, at least after a storm, but that much snow has to go somewhere," he says. "The streets have slowly been getting narrower and narrower as the winter goes on.  Or maybe it's not that the streets have gotten narrower, but that the snow banks have grown to monstrous sizes, overflowing their normal spaces.

"Four-lane roads, 2 lanes in each direction, have shrunk to 2-lane roads. There is no such thing as riding on the shoulder. I find myself taking more back roads to avoid the traffic, and when that is not possible, I'm riding in the middle of the lane to make sure I am visible and that cars don't try to squeeze past me. I now ride with 3 back lights and 2 headlights trying to increase my visibility to ridiculous proportions.

"As for riding through the snow, when it is falling or just after, I am getting a lot of practice and a great workout," he says. "It's a lot like riding through the sand, especially the deeper it gets. Very strenuous work. I find myself shedding layers now when the snow starts to fall, wearing fewer clothes the deeper the snow sits. If you are not careful you can find yourself dripping with sweat riding through sub-freezing temperatures, which is fine until you hit a stoplight. Then words like frostbite and hypothermia start floating through your brain. But that's OK. I am still riding in winter."

If you're a winter cyclist yourself, what has this winter taught you about cycling in challenging conditions? Learn some of Jim's techniques for successfully navigating winter landscapes on a bike in his How to Enjoy Winter Bicycling article. And by all means, enjoy!

Posted on at 1:28 PM

Tagged: Cycling, Jim Barbeau, Minneapolis, New York City, REI Bloomington, winter biking and winter cycling

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Quite a lot of OUR guys are, too:

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Quite a lot of OUR guys are, too:


I ride every day until we get the big snows and then I just wait until the plows are done. I am too cheap to buy a campus parking pass that doesn't get you anywhere near where you need to be. Just got 10 inches today. I may have to walk tomorrow.

Rvs For Sale

Oh its a wonderful riding in winter... This is only one season to I like the ride the bike for a long drive... I always drive...but this time to special for me.


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