Around here, in Alberta this week, it could actually pass for Christmas outside. Winter, that eager frosty bastard, blew in early this year, with cold and snow arriving in mid-October and deciding, it seems, to stick around for a while, perhaps until spring. This put an abrupt end to what had been a long and stellar cycling season.
Even though I’ve lived in Alberta for 20 years, I am still occasionally caught off guard when winter decides to usurp autumn so summarily. I had (naively, it turns out) hoped for another month of easy bike commuting and perhaps even the odd bundled up Sunday ride. Alas, old man hiver has decided to take a page from the marketers’ play book and “push the season” too.
Now I’m generally unenthusiastic about winter cycling, unpersuaded by converts who proclaim it’s safe, easy, fun. It has always seemed to me dangerous, difficult, slogging, and when winter arrives I tend to hang up the bike until spring. But this year is different, for some reason. I have decided that I’m just not done cycling yet. Don’t get too excited. I’m not resolving to become an avid all-winter cyclist, the kind determined to ride through any and all inclemency. Rather, I’ve just decided that I want to push the bike-riding season a bit, squeeze in a few extra weeks of riding to work, at least.
Edmonton winters feature plenty of cold but there can be long stretches, weeks at a time, with little snow and moderate winter temperatures (between 0 and -10 degrees C). So, theoretically, even a moderate, half-hearted winter cyclist like me could get in an extra twenty or thirty days of riding spread out here and there over the course of typical winter. That’s my plan. Call it Commute Creep.
Hence my new studded winter tires and toasty warm balaclava. Thus equipped, I am now ready to cycle to work when conditions permit this winter—that is, when I won’t freeze my nutsack or have to get off my bike and walk through drifts of white stuff. I’m interested in pushing the bicycling season, not pushing my bicycle.
I’ll keep track of how many extra days I manage to squeeze in (three this week already!) and report back from time to time. In the meantime, I will ignore the yuletide trappings unfurling around me, and try to hang on to the old season just a little longer.