Elements of Bike Riding 49

by Peter Burns

Recreational Rides

Each fall I commit to doing recreational rides during the winter months.   Then it gets really cold and I find myself slacking off. My feet and hands get cold easily.  I have electric mittens and warm boots, but after half an hour, when it is below 20 degrees my extremities get cold.  This limits my range.  When the temperature is in the single digits, getting ready for a ride takes almost half an hour!  If I am taking a short ride for fun, it almost doesn't seem worth the effort. 

This winter I am going to experiment with recreational rides in and around Winooski.  I can get in an hour ride on my fat bike doing a route around the perimeter of the city.  That way, if my hands or feet start to get cold, I can head home.  I am a member of the Burlington YMCA so I can use the stationary bike or take a spinning class, but it feels silly riding to the Y to ride inside.  There is no substitute for riding outside But I may ride inside to keep in shape. One of the saddest things about fall is losing the conditioning I have built up over a summer of long rides.  Even if I ride all winter, it takes a while to build up my stamina in the spring.  My legs stay strong in the winter but my back gets sore until I have taken a bunch of long rides.  I have talked to one of the trainers at the Y about helping me develop an off-season conditioning plan to help me be ready for riding next spring and summer.  I need to follow up with that.  

If you don't already ride all winter, I urge you to push your limits.  Many people put away their bikes after the first snowfall, but there are always nice days in the winter when the roads are clear and it is not too cold.  Even if you ride only once a week, this will help you stay in shape for the spring and reduce your car dependence. If you want to make a bigger commitment to winter riding,  consider studded tires.  I put studded tires on my fat bike for winter riding, and I was able to ride almost every day last winter.  The only thing I cannot handle is fresh deep blizzard snow.  If you keep your extremities warm, and your core cool, you can make it through almost every kind of weather.  Riding in the cold is not always fun, and if you have a car, it is tempting to drive instead of ride.  If you are planning a morning commute ride it helps to put your gear out the night before.  That investment in time may help you resist your car.  Many people now ride through the winter and you can be one of them!

Winooski Bike Gang

On Thursday the 28th the Winooski Bike Gang had its last ride for the season.  We rode with the Old Spokes Ride, which we joined on the last Wednesday of every month this summer.  Because of staff shortages, the Winooski Bike Gang led the ride.  I went apple picking that morning so I had some fresh apples to offer the participants.  We rode to Oakledge for a fine sunset and some more snacks.  There were about 60 participants. One of the participants talked about her experience with the Winooski Bike Gang.  Last summer she rode with us for the first time when we went to Indian Brook.  She had not been on a bike since she learned to ride as a child.  She barely make it back, but now she is an avid rider. We are all proud of her and happy to have helped with her transformation.

Winooski Bike Gang outside of the Monkey House

I'm going to miss our weekly adventures.  This year we grew from having an average of 12 riders to having more than 30 rider every week.  We had to scramble and re-think our structure.  We came up with the idea of having two rides, a business ride for those who wanted to go far and fast, and a party ride for those who wanted a more relaxed pace. That worked well.  On Wednesday the 21st we had a raffle to celebrate our successful bike season.  Many items were contributed including some great stuff from Local Motion.  Included with this blog are a picture of the raffle, our trip to Whales’ Tales and our latest adventure to Oakledge.



group of bikers in front of the whale tailsbikers look out over Lake Champlain

About the author:

Peter Burns is a long-time bike enthusiast, and one of the original year-round bike riders in Burlington. He writes amazing monthly blogs and teaches a variety of Everyday Biking workshops.  In addition to his work at Local Motion, he also works at a group home for people with Psychiatric disabilities, teaches classes for the Vermont Humanities Council, teaches swimming at the Burlington YMCA, and is a regular host of Storytelling VT.