Minus 55: The 2014 Wisconsin Winter Bike Challenge

No, it wasn’t 55 below zero or when I pedaled off to work this morning, only a disappointing at -11.  When I went to bed last night the forecast was for morning temperatures of 17 to 18 below, so I fell asleep looking forward to a bit of an adventure on my ride to work. I even took the time to look up the coldest temperatures on record in Wisconsin, which was -55 degrees in Couderay on Feb. 4th, 1996, which got me even more charged up to ride. Any readers from the Couderay area remember that record day?

Click the image to visit the Endomondo’s Bike Winter Challenge page where you can register to log your cold weather miles.

All the hype about cold weather did get me thinking those of use who ride all year should try to have a little fun with it, so I contacted Rob Gusky up at the Kimberly Clark Corporation in the Fox Cities area. Rob and KCC worked with the developers at Endomondo and the Bike Fed start the State Bike Challenge several years ago. That Challenge was so successful that it went national. When I suggested to Rob we have a winter challenge and pick Feb. 4th as winter bike to work day in honor of the coldest day, he was all over the idea. Before I knew it, Rob sent me an email with a link to the new Challenge page on Endomondo pictured below.

Click on the page to sign up for the 2014 Winter Bike/Walk Challenge.

All your miles count for this challenge, not just commute miles. So sign up and start logging those recreational miles our on the Fatbikes or even take the stairs at work and log those trips! But we do hope that you will give biking to work a try this winter, in honor of the coldest day on record in Wisconsin.

I’m all smiles at 11 below as I head in to the office this morning just past sunrise.

There are already lots of bike winter activities going on in Wisconsin and other states. For instance Madison has a number of fun Bike Winter events planned on their Madison Bike Winter Facebook here.  The big Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap is then end of January, which is a great place to gear up for the rest of winter on the cheap. Some of the Madison folks were interviewed and you can read their winter commute tips in this Cap Times article by Jessie Opoien. Madison further’s its reputation as our state’s most bike friendly town with an official city guide to bicycling in the winter.

La Crosse also has a Bike Winter Facebook here. They have a bike swap coming up if you are looking for deals to put together a winter commuter bike.

The Leader Telegram did a nice report about Eau Claire winter biking in this story.

No matter where you live, with a little planning, riding your bike in the winter is a very doable and can be very fun. So, on this chilly day, I challenge you to embrace winter and sign up for our challenge. We are rounding up a few prizes to add to the fun. Stay tuned here for more details. And I still want to hear from somebody who remembers that cold day in Couderay.

I found a dollar on my way to work this morning! Biking to work is like getting paid to commute!


About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

8 thoughts on “Minus 55: The 2014 Wisconsin Winter Bike Challenge

    • Thanks Troy, but they cropped out my 1936 Raleigh! Why leave a tight shot of a mug like mine and crop out the beauty? They need a new photo editor ;)

      • I hear that…the whole photo was in the published version with all 25 on Christmas day btw….unfortunately in that version they used the photo of me…not only am I ugly in real life, I’m even more unphotogenic!

  1. I’m from La Crosse, WI, and hell yes I remember that period of February 1996!  According to weather history, we had a period of about 120 hours (five full days) where the temperature never got above 0°.  I did ride in those conditions; in fact, I had actually gone ‘south’ — all the way to Perry Iowa — to take part in the annual Bicycle Ride to Rippey (appropriately a/k/a BRR) on Feb 3rd.  The temperature there, as indicated by a bike time-temp display, was a balmy -22° when the ride got underway at 10:00 AM.

    And the wackiest part is — I WAS NOT ALONE!!!  There were something like 300 other people who had also suffered frostbite of the brain and decided to ride; either that or they figured it was too cold to do anything else, so why not go for a little bike ride?  After all, the rest stop offered free hot chocolate (byo peppermint schnapps).

    • Hey Bill, thanks for chiming in with your memories of that record cold. Even better that you were doing the BRR, which at 37 years, has legitimate rights to the claim that it is the original bike winter ride. I have never done that ride, but I know a few people who do the Triple D.

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