Winter Cycling Redux

Here in Minnesota there is a huge cycling population and many of these cyclists continue to ride during the winter months, using their bikes as their primary form of transportation. We have nothing on Copenhagen though, that’s some serious bike culture!

Mikael Colville-Andersen is a freelance filmmaker and photographer and has two fantastic sites on Copenhagen cycling culture: Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. I’ve really enjoyed the great photography at Copenhagen Cycle Chic; Copenhagenize is a new find for me and I love it already. These sites make me want to go to ditch my car and ride my bike everywhere, even when the roads are covered in snow.

Dreaming of Summer


Winters in Minnesota are usually very bright and very, very cold. We had plenty of that in January but now we seem to have hit a warm spell. This would be a good thing, except the warmth has come with rain and cloudy, gloomy days that mentally feel worse than the cold, sunny days and make me yearn for springtime. On days like this I try to surround myself with bring colors or bright locations to fight the depressive dreariness, but today I’m just longing to ride my bike.

The photo above was taken when we got a brief break in the cloud cover and the sun shone in on my racing steed, which is spending its winter in the warmth of the dining room. Seeing it in the sun brings back fond memories of the summer rides where I was so hot I thought I might melt down over the handlebars and two water bottles just weren’t enough to keep me hydrated for an entire outing. It reminds me of lunches at The Tin Fish and the twists and turns of the creek trail. Summers here are short but are truly fantastic. Is it May yet?


It seems that Ricardo Ricco and Manuel Beltran weren’t the only cheaters in this year’s Tour de France. It was reported this week that Ricco’s teammate Leonardo Piepoli was taking CERA (EPO) also, so I was right when I said that the team pulled out because Ricco wasn’t the only member doping. But it doesn’t stop there. Stefan Schumacher, who won both of this year’s time trials, was doping too.

Really, when will they learn? Times have changed – you cheat now, you will be caught and your fans and team members will not be forgiving the way they were in years past. Get the message, men! The French authorities aren’t putting up with it, and neither are we!

The Helmet Carrier

I don’t understand this phenomenon.  I’ve heard stories about people riding bikes with their helmets strapped to their racks or hung around their handlebars, and I always thought it was strange, but it wasn’t until I saw a man riding like this today that it really got to me.

The man looked to be in his 50s, and was riding a hybrid bike with the helmet strapped to his rear rack.  I passed him for the first time on the bike path at Lake Harriet.  I saw the helmet riding impotently behind him and thought, this man probably has children.  They might not be young children, but they still love him the same.  How would they feel if a driver lost control and drove up onto the bike path, and their father didn’t make it?  Would it be any consolation that a helmet was found at the scene, possibly still strapped to the bike?  This man may have a wife.  How would she feel about the prospect of spending her silver years without her husband?  Was he thinking about these people when he strapped that helmet to the bike?

I wanted to say something.  I wanted to tell him to put the helmet on.  I see people all the time riding without helmets and I don’t think much of it.  It’s their choice.  But this man thought about it.  He put the helmet on the bike.  Maybe he put it there for storage and meant to put it on but forgot?  Hmm, probably not likely.  But something made him bring it, and something made me care.

I stopped to take some pictures and the man caught up with me and passed me.  The helmet was still strapped to his bike, but I was coming to terms with it.  It was still his choice, right?  He was a grown man and didn’t need me telling him what to do.  I could accept that.  But when I passed him further up the trail and I saw him wearing his helmet, it made me smile.

Hit and Run

Yesterday I received this email from the City of Minneapolis:

On September 11, 2008 around 4:20 a.m. a 64 year old St Louis Park resident with cerebral palsy was struck and killed by a hit and run driver on Excelsior Boulevard less than a block from his place of employment. The male, who will be identified by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, had been employed by the Minikahda Club in the same position since 1962 and rode his bicycle to work along Excelsior Boulevard almost every day around 4:15 a.m.

The victim, who was wearing a bike helmet, was struck by a tan vehicle and that vehicle most likely sustained right front damage. Investigators are asking that anyone with information about this case call Sgt. Bruce Folkens at 612-673-3410 or Sgt. Chris Karakostas at 612-673-3400.

At first this made me really angry, and then really sad. Who does this? Who leaves an injured, disabled man in the street to die?

This evening I’m watching the movie Michael Clayton, which begins with Mr. Clayton “fixing” the problems of a wealthy client who has hit a runner with his car and has left the scene of the accident.  The wealthy client wants to cover it up.  Again, I wonder, who really does this?  What kind of a person abandons another human being after injuring or killing them?  Is it a panicked person, or just a selfish person?  What does it take to stay and be accountable?

I’m sitting here, on my couch, watching tv, not out on a run, or walking the dog, or riding my bike, and the words crossing my mind come from my first writing class in college: There, but for the grace of God, go I.  How many times have I, and will I, ride my bike in the street?  And I realize I hope I never know the answers to these questions, and I never know what it’s like to be involved in a hit and run.