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What's so Great About All-Weather Cycling?

 All-Weather Cycling
I can feel it in the air. Autumn. And soon, winter.

Right about now all the fair-weather bicycle commuters start locking their bikes in the garage and opting for the car instead. I would be lying if I said I didn’t envy their heated bucket seats, faux-fur steering wheel covers, and magical heat blasting dashboards. I ride past them on my way to work in the early morning darkness, all sleepy and shielding my eyes from their headlights, and remind myself that grit is a good quality to bolster in oneself.

I pull my wool scarf over my lips and nose to catch the heat from my breath. It’s almost as good as a car heater.

All-weather riding is always an adventure - like travel, it poses some of the most challenging and in turn rewarding experiences one can expect from a commute. Every morning is like packing for a trip: Will you need a raincoat? Different shoes? Gloves? A fleece headband? There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction you get when it starts to downpour and all you’ve got to do is reach into your bag for relief. Goodbye ‘drowned rat’ look, hello badass.

Biking makes us better people, so why not do it year round? Let’s take a moment to appreciate every season in the cycling year.

Summertime and the Living is Easy

 All-Weather Cycling
Summer is all about cruisers and bike gangs.

It is the only season, at least in my city, where there are enough cyclists out and about on the streets that we can bond with one another. We pile up at stop lights and make small talk. Blue Helmet compliments White Helmet on avoiding that car back there that tried to turn into her. She laughs and knocks a fist against her helmet. The light changes and they go their separate ways.

There are so many bikers out in the summer though that we become easy targets.

Thieves figure there are so many good bikes for wheelies around that they’ll never get caught. We have to be especially careful about locking up and watching out for one another. If one lock isn’t doing it, some cyclists choose more creative methods.

Summer is carefree. And we want to keep it that way.

The Autumnal Sensory Wonderland

 All-Weather Cycling
Fall is when the hardcore bikers start to show themselves.

They zip through town as fast as they can in an effort to keep warm from their quads to their toes.

Fall is all about pushing as hard as you can because soon winter will descend and everything will get a little more arduous.

It’s the best time for climbing mountains, winding through tree-lined trails, and getting the best views. Sure, plenty of people take road trips to see fall foliage, but cycling in the fall opens up all the other senses as well.

A biker can not only see the colors on the trees, we can smell the leaves, feel the crunch under our tires, taste the cool air, and hear the critters as they scurry around in preparation.

It’s my favorite biking season without a doubt.

The Grit of Winter Riding

 All-Weather Cycling
Wintertime riding is more of a task than any other season. Winter means plenty of upkeep around the house - like knocking down those pesky ice dams before they tear off the roof. Instead of viewing the commute as another task to tackle, think of it as a chance for unparalleled adventure.

Daily commuters have a handful of factors to take into consideration. For one, if you’re commuting to work you have to bundle up in the morning - extra socks, pants that can get splattered with street sleet, a hat that fits under your helmet - and then change into work clothes later. It’s a task.

Bikes also have to be kept in good repair, dry, and have proper tires.

So yes, riding in the winter can be cold and miserable. But it's all about attitude. 

Why do it?

Simple. The quiet.

Riding in the snow is like stepping into a totally different world. It’s so quiet you can hear the whirring of the gear mechanisms at your feet. You can hear the snow as it packs into your tire tread and falls to the asphalt. It’s a welcome change of pace.

That’s where the “grit” thing comes in. We tough out the hard times to experience the rewards.

Spring and the Mellow Rider

 All-Weather Cycling
We’ll end with spring. It takes months for the green buds of spring to push their way up through the soil, so it only makes sense that we bikers tune into that rhythm too: spring is the season of the chill rider.

Bikers just want to take it all in, to defrost from winter and feel the sun-warmed air in our lungs.

Spring riding is a meandering type of riding. We casually weave between obstacles like we used to when we were kids, we look around and take detours just for the sake of it. It’s also a time of year when we have to remember to be alert. Many hit-and-run drivers involved in bike collisions admit to having never seen the injured or deceased cyclist. It’s our responsibility to ourselves to be more alert than drivers. Even when our heads are in the clouds.

Let’s work on building up that famous cyclist camaraderie. Share with us your best foul-weather biking experience in the comments and we can groan, laugh, and face-palm together.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 12th November 2016.
Katie Kapro
Katie Kapro is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine.

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