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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

I am loving the city.

Front view of a fat bike and other bike, coated in snow,  side by side with a light pole between, on a sidewalk at night

I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa.  A small city, 80,000ish people and it doesn’t cover much geographical space.  When I first got “serious” about biking everywhere, I was living there. (I had moved away, but every time I tried to get out, they pulled me back in).  Though I was born there, I have always felt at home in much bigger cities.  (Minneapolis is about the smallest city I could ever imagine myself in.) I must admit though I  truly miss riding in Waterloo.  They had some nice bike paths, and for the most part the drivers were ok (average, I would say).  But what I miss the most about it is its size.  The longest ride I ever had to take was about 7 miles.  So when I wanted to go for a long ride, it was out into the country. When I was commuting to work in the winter, it was 3.5 miles.  Which was nice.  I could bundle up (really overdress) because the ride was so short.  Then on the way home I would take the “long way” home (10 miles tops) and it didn’t really matter how cold and wet I was, I was home.

It’s this time of year (negative 14 this morning) that I miss Waterloo the most.  Here I commute about 14 miles each way, and in extremely cold weather, that can suck if you’re not really prepared, just lazy, or don’t like the cold. 

I am at any given time at least one of these things (sometimes all three).

So bundling up in strippable layers to start a long ride with eyelashes freezing together doesn’t fit in with any of those.
I still ride in this weather; I just have to amp myself up for it. My wife and I share a car (which mostly means, she has a car) so I seldom drive in. (though I did today, you bet your ass!)

But (and it’s a big one) when I am feeling lazy or cold in a city this size, I still have some options.  Buses, trains, in short: public transportation. And one of the things I love the most about the city; is how these things all take bikes into account.  I can get any of my bikes on the train, and many of them (nothing with a tire wider than 2.35) on the buses.  That means, if I’m feeling lazy or don’ t want to deal with the cold I can still over dress, ride to a heated transit center and stay warm.  Bus it, train it, whatever. With no more than a couple of miles at a time out in the elements. 

Left side of a black Surly bike with fenders, standing up vertically, inside of a city rail car

Worst photo ever, but you get the point.

Not super hardcore, I’ll admit that;  (if you read the blog regularly then you know about my softness) but it’s convenient, warm and a great time to catch up on some reading.

That the reason I'm loving the city. Options. They are pretty great.  You know what they say about variety.

If you have the option, then try it. Riding public transportation can be peaceful.  Also if you’ve got your bike with you; you can get off any time you want and ride.

Stay warm.