Rediscovering Winter Cycling

There’s nothing to clear your mind like a crisp clean winter bike ride on a freshly plowed trail.

There’s nothing to clear your mind like a crisp clean winter bike ride on a freshly plowed trail.

I’ve always been excited about winter. Maybe having a February birthday is part of this, but I always look forward to the cold months. Snowmen, skating, skiing, and now biking! This past month I’ve been enjoying Frostbiking around London on my Larry vs Harry e-Bullitt cargo bike, and it’s changed my entire perspective on winter cycling (again).

I’d always rode my bike to get around in the spring, summer, and fall, but first started riding my bike in the winter of 2010 in Calgary. I’d injured my foot to the point that I could barely walk three blocks to the bus stop, let alone the kilometer to the (more frequent service) train. So I started riding my bike, and realized it wasn’t so bad. It was even better than I’d expected. I learned a thing or two in my first few winters (mostly that going for a bike ride in the winter isn’t any different than walking in the winter, and the bike paths are usually plowed earlier than the roads), and enjoyed my newfound winter freedom. Calgary had a strong culture of winter cycling, dominated primarily by middle aged white guys (everyone looks the same bundled up, so you’d never notice!), but that’s changing, too, as the city builds new infrastructure and riding a bike in four seasons becomes more normalized. This year #yycbike is hosting the International Winter Cycling Congress, and will highlight some of the amazing things that city has done to make winter riding normal, easy, and fun!

Fast forward a few years and I haven’t missed a winter on my bike. But this year I have an amazing new tool. Welcome to my life, e-Bullitt.

My e-Bullitt has been a game changer for winter cycling. Its electric boost, and incredible cargo capacity has increased my number of days, and number of trips I’ve made while cycling. I’m on pace to ride more than 500 km in January for the first time in a long while, and virtually every one of those clicks are everyday things like commuting to the store, taking Hector to the dog park, or getting groceries at the market.

I initially thought a cargo bike wouldn’t be as useful in the winter, but here’s why it’s even better than a regular bike: you go slower, and carry more stuff. I know the first one seems counter-intuitive, but hear me out. Let’s start with the first one: when you go slower, you are safer. On the long wheel-base of the Bullitt, everything feels stable and easy. There have been days when I wouldn’t have wanted to be out walking because it was too slippery, but trundling along slowly on the Bullitt has felt perfectly safe. Equipped with standard-size winter tires, moving slowly through the city in “Eco” mode at 18-20 km/h feels perfect. The electric assist also helps me in two ways: 1) I stay warm because I can work as hard as I need to keep my heart rate in the “warm” zone, and 2) I don’t get cold by sweating because I’m working too hard. It’s all so easy I can’t imagine getting around any other way. Carrying more stuff is a bit more self-explanatory, but it means that I can easily carry the extra layers you sometimes need for winter riding, and things like seat covers, dry mitts, and other items that would be considered “luxury” on another bike. With the e-Bullitt, I just throw everything into the box and I’m on my way. It’s made my life easier, my health better, and my time better spent, on a bike. I’m rediscovering my love for winter cycling.

On another note, cheers to all of you who are riding every day, enjoying the freshly plowed TVP, putting on an extra layer, and enjoying being outside in the winter season. It’s great to be part of a community where I can recognize familiar bikes (and sometimes faces when it’s warm enough to let your scarves down). Go team #Frostbike!