Pedaling through Quebec's winters
Well, summer's finally arrived in Quebec. It was about time! I consider the winter biking season over. Here is, then, an overview of two winter's worth of cycling through the snow.
When I was younger, I used to bike around the neighborhood, like most children my age would do, and sometimes I’d explore the forest trails near my place.
But only during summer.
That’s right, because summer’s warm and sunny. No way I’m going to ride around if it’s raining. There’s wind, it’s cold, water splashes everywhere… Nope. Not gonna happen.
Nowadays, I bike regularly, not only during summer or for fun, but also to get around. In fact, I use my bike all year round. “Even during winter!?”, ask some in stupor.” Yes sir, even during winter. “You’re crazy. You must get so cold!” Well, I’ll admit it might seem a bit extreme considering Quebec’s unforgiving winters, but have no fear: I don’t get cold. At all. Quite the opposite! After 2-3 minutes of mashing the pedals between ice patches and brown snow puddles, my body warms up and the rest of the ride is enjoyable.
In reality, it’s really not that complicated or extreordinary to bike through snow. To ensure that your winter bicycling experience will be enjoyable, you need at least a safe and working bike, a thin hat you can pop underneath a helmet, a scarf or a neck warmer, and finally some gloves/mittens. That’s it! You could also add lights for your bike, winter boots, studded tires, a snow blower and whatever might help. Seriously though. Depending on how far away from work/school you are, bike commuting in the winter is a realistic alternative for you daily go abouts.
It certainly requires a period of adaption for the first few rides, but trust me, the experience is really unique and worth it. … Maybe I really am crazy somehow. I could ride the bus or even drive around in our family’s car, but nope. I prefer moving around using my very own legs.
You know, there’s something magical about biking around during winter time. It’s partly because you know it isn’t usual, almost weird, that it becomes extraordinary. People look at us as if we’d lost our driving licenses, which is pretty funny. Siliding (and sometimes falling) on ice patches is funny as well (it’s all about the mindset!). Getting stuck in 2 feet of snow is reminder of how powerful Mother Nature really is. Walking next to your bike because winds reach speeds of nearly 70km/h (44 mph) while the temperature’s at -25 degrees Celsius (that’s -13 degrees Fahrenheit) without the wind factor is pretty memorable, thank you very much.
In February of 2014, I wrote about the experience of a very enjoyable morning ride to school:
This morning’s commute especially was magical. -10°C (14°F), which is comfortable. Snowflakes peacefully falling from the pale blue sky. A layer of light snow covering the streets. The muffled crunching sound of rubber tires on snow. Wind respectfully making room for calmness. Whiteness all around.
The sight was splendid. I slowed down, breathed in the chilly winter air and let vapor out of my nostrils. From speeding into the cold waft, my eyes were covered with water: I tightly shut my eyes together, pushing droplets of water down onto my right cheek.
After a few pedal strokes, the core of my body heated up. Warmth began filling my limbs. I felt tingles spread through my legs, eventually reaching the tip of my toes. My cheeks colored pink. […] Winter bicycling is pure fun.
For the last two years, I’ve been riding my bicycle to get to school for the most part. Major snowstorms and other security risks got me to ride the bus or drive the car, just to be safe. How that I graduated from Cégep, I’m off the University of Sherbrooke in a few months.
I’m really looking forward to discovering the city on my bike, all year round!
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