Good reasons to bike in winter

Bill Miller has been winter biking for four years. He’s lost forty pounds and gotten his cholesterol under control. But that’s not the main reason he does it.

“I was in sales for years,” explained Bill, a Bike Fed member. “Lots of driving and lots of drive up windows at fast food restaurants. When I got out of that business I wanted to do something healthier.”

So he rediscovered biking after a four-decade layoff. Bill started biking the ten miles to his new office. He rides everyday in the warmer months and about twice a week in the winter.

“I wanted to do something healthier.”

I met Bill at Madison’s Winter Bike to Work Day event in front of Machinery Row Bicycle Works on the city’s near east side. When we set up the red Bike Fed tent at 7 AM it was 16 degrees and kind of windy. But it wouldn’t stay pleasant for long. As the morning progressed the wind picked up, it started to snow and the temperature went down. Terrible day for the event, right?

No, you’d be wrong about that. Well over one hundred people stopped by our tent and grabbed some hot coffee on their way to work. (More passed us up because they had places to be.) And pretty much all of them, like Bill, weren’t making any kind of special effort. They just happened to come across us on their normal daily commute. Several commented on what a lovely morning it was.

They rode everything from new monster fat bikes to skinny-wheeled road bikes to rusty three speeds. They came in ages from grade schoolers to grandparents. And that brings us back to Bill Miller and the main reason he reacquainted himself with his bike. “I do this for my grandkids,” Bill said. “I want to be there for them. I want to be the fun grandpa.”

About Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

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