one of the questions i get asked the most is, “you bike everywhere? even in the winter? isn’t that, like, cold?” the next question i am asked in terms of frequency is, “why are you carrying around a bike helmet?” (i was once asked this questions four times in the matter of two hours on campus at emerson. emerson kids, context clues! come on! get with it! don’t make me roll my eyes at you! )
in some ways, people will put me up on this pedestal because i bike year-round in massachusetts. they think i’m somehow stronger than them, or faster, or more able to dodge oncoming traffic. and i can tell you plainly and bluntly, i’m not. my bike was $100. i wear tights essentially every day that i bike (i’ve probably worn pants a record two times this season). my bike bell was free. i don’t use clip-in shoes on a thousand dollar racing bike. and biking in the city really isn’t that hard or scary as long as you find a route that makes you happy, has a bike lane, and you don’t run red lights that often (i’ll admit that i do, but only when it’s downright stupid not to, like if i am biking up a hill.)
i get winded. i yell expletives. i hum the tune of “it’s not my fault (it’s my fault)” whenever a car honks at me unjustly. but i also meet lovely bikers. nice drivers that let me pass them. kind police officers that make sure i’m safe on the road. get greeted by the twinkling citgo sign as i stroll through kenmore. smell wood-burning fireplaces on commonwealth as i bike home after class. and have such a wonderful routine of riding through brookline doing errands. i spend the $80 i would have spent being scowled at on the T each month on things i actually enjoy. i don’t have to go to the gym. i’m outside virtually all of the time. i get sun. i get happy.
one way i know i’m not a hipster cyclist is that i genuinely wish other people biked or enjoyed biking year round as much as i do. and not just on a road bike. you can bike on a schwinn or a bianchi or a tricycle. on road or off road on nature trails (just not on sidewalks or else i will roll my eyes at you.) with pants or without pants (i’m a skirt-wearing bicyclist through and through.) a lot of people say the cycling season is over at the end of november (ahem, hubway being taken out at the end of this month. ahem.) and i think that’s a shame. who’s to say the cycling season has to end?
oh, what’s that? you want tips on how to bike in the winter? oh, wow. who could see that coming?
1. wear what you’d wear normally. really. just keep a sweater in your bag rather than on you while you ride. you will sweat. you will glisten. it will be worth it.
2. bike lights. don’t be silly. it’s illegal to bike in boston without lights, and when you’re not biking with them, you can take them off and have a strobe light dance party. not that i’ve done this or anything.
3. need some winter inspiration? dottie from let’s go ride a bike rides year-round in chicago because she and her BFF in nashville made a challenge to bike year-round. homegirl always looks classy, too. and simply bike is actually the best at motivating me to bike in the cold (bikes year-round, with a baby, while she was getting her ph.d.)
4. my eyes always tend to water up a bit more during the winter. easy solution? wear my damn glasses, that i always forget i have. sunglasses also work, too. and you’ll look presh. double win.
5. bike shorts are your friend. and you don’t need to get fancy, padded ones. i use leggings, hand-me-down bike shorts, and get cheap spandex ones from tj maxx. you’ll slowly but surely find that you wear them even when you aren’t biking. whatever. it’s a thing.
6. my typical biking outfit? this jacket (marked down a crazy amount at marshall’s.) + stretchy pencil skirt (i have a bunch of $5 ones from h&m that complete me heart and soul) + knee socks or sweater tights + flats or boots + helmet + my trusty timbuk2 bag that i love so much. and the above polyvore is a typical formula for my outfits.
7. even if you don’t want to start biking until spring, bikes are sooooooo much cheaper in the winter. my first bike (bought in august, not the highest quality bike, bought with a broken brake) was stolen in november of last year. i knew if i waited until december i could get a really nice one for super cheap. bada-bing-bada-boom, i got my peugeot, millie (previous name= mordecai), for $50 cheaper than my crappier bike, in perfect, just-fixed condition.
in closing, don’t think that because you don’t have to bike more than five minutes to a place that it’s not a worthwhile ride. it can be to the grocery store down the street with some cute panniers (i want these sooooo bad), or your bff’s house across the river, or to your foot doctor appointment. just bask in the glistening you’ll be doing under your sweater, get your hand signals on, and be glad you get to stare at changing leaves on trees and not grumpy businessmen on the T.