Ready to suit up and be counted?
Real winter is finally here, let’s get out there and enjoy it.
I love to ride a bike. I don’t love driving a car. Naturally, those preferences led me to become a bike commuter, and increasingly so over the years. I’m now more into the habit of grabbing my helmet instead of the car keys. At times, that meant slogging it out through the wettest Seattle hill climbs, the sauna-like afternoons in Thailand, or, now, the snowy trails and streets of Traverse City.
I don’t recall ever wishing I was in a car. The reasons are myriad. For one, I like letting my mind wander while I pedal. I like breathing steady under my own effort. I like seeing things and chatting with people. I also like changing the oil and buying gas less frequently. More than anything, I still really enjoy riding my bike.
Working at home this winter has cut down on my commuting time, but I still make an effort to get out and ride. I know many of you share my affinity for winter bike riding, and I invite those who haven’t quite embraced it to give it a try. Maybe it will become a habit.
Winter Bike Commuting isn’t complicated, but it has a few challenges you won’t find during the rest of the year. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Drive and ride. I recognize the value of a motorized lift, and in the winter, I usually load my bike onto a car to drive to the TART Trail. This move is for safety as my commute includes Three Mile Road. Someday we’ll see a safer connection from East Bay into Traverse City, but for now, I’ll choose to be multimodal rather than white-knuckling it down Three Mile.
- Dress in layers. It’s freezing out there, but with the right clothing, you’ll be toasty inside. I’ve found wearing a base layer made from wool, coupled with a windbreaker, my $5 Norte Buff, and a thin hat under my helmet takes care of my core. Roomy, thick mittens give me enough dexterity to shift and brake, but I will add pogies (handlebar pockets) when it gets frigid since my hands are historically cold. For the winter, I swap out the clip–in shoes for flat platform pedals and hiking boots with heavy socks for my feet—partially for warmth but also for quickly putting my foot down.
- Watch the ice. It is not to be taken lightly. Riding bikes with wider tires and slightly dropping the tire pressure will help improve traction. If you can afford them, studded tires are excellent for providing traction in the snow and ice. Hugging studded mountain bike tires is exactly like hugging a cactus, but that’s what I’d like to do every time they save my bum because they mean that much to me. They cost a little extra and are worth every penny.
- Plan ahead. The winter bike commute is slower. You can’t expect to make up time by pushing harder. If it isn’t the conditions slowing you down, it’s the 15 extra pounds of clothing and studded tires. You can also blame the extra effort on the air density, which I fully intend to do next time someone asks. Our friends at Ice Bike ran the numbers on this very topic: This Is Why You Are Cycling Slower in the Winter.
If you’re a winter bike commuter, consider committing to ride this Friday for World Winter Bike to Work Day. If you’re not a regular winter bike rider, consider giving it a try. Commit to ride by entering your location at WinterBiketoWork.org and put northern Michigan on the map. The more people who embrace winter biking (and walking), the more normal it will become.
Whatever your reason for riding through the winter is, thanks for sticking with it. I’ll see you out there.
Ben, Program Director
What’s Happening at Norte? Lots!
This year, we’ll continue to empower the young and young at heart to be changemakers and support the programs, infrastructure, policies, systems and culture related to walking, biking and other forms of active transportation to help communities be their best – their healthiest.
What we’re up to this winter:
- Planning for a $2M Safe Routes To School (SRTS) grant which features nearly 5 miles of walk/bike improvements around the 10 in town schools that has been conditionally approved by MDOT.
- Convening a systems practice analysis of policies with our SRTS partners.
- Expanding the successful Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocacy Academy to all Grand Traverse County residents.
- Preparing the new Wheelhouse at the Civic Center to grow our programs – Amigos, Solution, after-school mountain bike, The Bike Mas Project, Estrellas, and the Traverse City Summer Bike Camp – this spring and summer.
- Exploring opportunities to bring Norte to other communities in the 5 county area.
- Standing up for a more walk/bike friendly Grand Traverse region – like sidewalks in Traverse Heights, a better Barlow Street, extending the 3 Mile trail, better connections around Long Lake and Wetwoods Elementary schools and a revisioned 8th Street – via our grassroots advocacy group.
We need more awesome people including sponsors, volunteers, influencers and connectors who are passionate about happy, healthy, strong communities and active-for-life kids to get involved.
Need Help Shoveling Your Sidewalk? The Northern Michigan Big Dig Project Can Help
Need help shoveling your residential sidewalk this winter?
The Northern Michigan Big Dig is part of our “neighbors helping neighbors” campaign, A Clear Path To Health.
If you are unable to shovel your sidewalk, complete this form and we’ll try our best to connect you with someone in your neighborhood that can help.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Bike-Powered! Recycle Your Christmas Tree The Awesome Way
photo credit: Modacity
With inspiration from the awesome people at Modacity in Vancouver, Norte! is excited to offer bike-powered delivery of your Christmas tree to Traverse City’s recycling drop-off site. Because recycling your tree by bicycle might just be the most awesome thing ever:
- it’s easy. Just fill out the form below.
- it’s convenient. One less trip for you.
- it’s less wasteful. Turning your tree into mulch rocks!
- it supports Norte!. Yay for kids on bikes in Traverse City.
Here’s How it Works:
- Commit to making a donation – big or small – and help us inspire Traverse City youth through bicycles. With your support, Norte! will:
- invest in bike tools, parts and supplies for El Barrio Bike Fix, our upcoming after school learn-to-wrench program at Eastern Elementary
- host The Bike Mas Project, our experienced-based after school empowerment program at Eastern and Traverse Heights Elementary this spring
- purchase more balance bikes for the Estrellas del Norte!, our learn-to-ride program this summer
- grow our Kids Bike Library to make sure that every awesome kid can ride an awesome bike no matter their family’s financial resources
- Sign up HERE to schedule your pick-up.
- A Norte! volunteer will pedal your Christmas tree to Hull Park using 8ft, heavy duty bike trailers loaned to us by our friends at Carter’s Compost.
- Give yourself a pat on the back for supporting kids on bikes in Traverse City and recycling your tree into mulch and erosion control for City parks and Brown Bridge Quiet Area.
- Pick-ups available in Oak Park, Boardman, Traverse Heights, Central and Old Town neighborhoods only.
- Pick-ups from 12/28/15 until 1/17/16 .
- Donations can be made online HERE, via check to “Norte!” left with your tree or sent to to PO Box, 781, TC, MI, 49685.
Email questions to email@example.com
More info on the City’s tree recycling program HERE.
More info on who Norte! is and what we do HERE.
Learn more about Modacity and their amazing internationally crowd-sourced #TreeByBike photo gallery HERE.
Bike Happy. Bike Mas. Bike Your Christmas Tree TC.