Winter arrived in Ann Arbor last Wednesday very suddenly.
As an undergraduate, I lived about 5 minutes walking distance from any class that I was taking. But, having moved to a place about 3 miles away from the School of Public Health (up a hill), I had been listening to the radio with increasing fear as the last couple weeks have gone by. My mode of transportation has shifted from walking to biking and it has been pretty interesting so far. I biked as an undergrad, but not that much as it was so easy to just walk to class and the farmer’s market. After having made the decision to live so far from school, which allowed me to live in a house and have my own garden, I had to make the trade-off of either taking the Ann Arbor public bus or biking.
I chose biking.
So, after much consultation and eBay searching, I bought a Surly (no worries, I didn’t pay anywhere near that price). Biking in the summer and fall was fine, but it was winter that scared me. I’ve never biked in the winter and didn’t know whether any special gear was needed (oh, yes). I nearly froze my ears and jaw off last week and had to buy a balaclava. Not to mention studded tires.
A few people who knew that I biked to school asked if I was going to continue biking in the winter and whether that was even possible. I’m sure I sounded confidant in my reply, but I was really cringing in the inside because I had no idea if I was up to it. Let me just say that is is pretty intense. As in, I thought I was going to keel over by the time I got home. Biking with studded tires is like hardcore resistance biking. I was surprised at first how much harder it was to bike uphill.
What irks me so far about riding in the winter, though, is the lack of covered bike parking. We are not allowed to keep bikes inside the School of Public Health (though I have seen at least one in a professor’s office) because they are a fire hazard. However, there isn’t anything provided for us. I talked with the building manager and he told me that there are plans to put one in but that no one is in charge of it and therefore there are no dates for when it will be implemented. There probably aren’t that many people biking in the winter, but for the minority population of SPH that does bike in the winter, shouldn’t there be some sort of a solution? Leaving your bike outside in the cold is just bad for it and I’m particularly protective of this one.
Are there any seasoned winter bikers out there? Any tips? I’m getting the hang of it and it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, even as my homework-and-study pile gets bigger.