Bike Winter is Over; Long Live Bike Winter!

Click the image to visit the Bike Fed’s Photoshelter website and see all our bike winter photos.

Long live bike winter!

While the Bike Fed’s “Winter Bike/Walk Challenge” is over, you don’t have to be a ground hog to know winter is going to be around for a while longer. We started the Winter Challenge this year to encourage more people to embrace winter and get out and ride. If you live in Wisconsin, you either have to hibernate or embrace winter.

This first challenge ended with 124 people logging 5,252 miles and burning 258, 141 calories. That’s about the equivalent of those 124 people doing a relay race across the United States and back in a week! David Hoffman logged the most miles with 246 miles. Kiestin Kloeckner, a Bike Fed Board Member, lead the women with 148 miles! Nice job both of you.

The friendly competition was fun, but the challenge is about encouraging everyone to try riding more. As promised, anyone who logged miles was entered in a random drawing for prizes. We will be contacting the winners, Tara and David, to get them their complimentary copies of the Bike Fed’s coffee table book “Endure,” the ultimate photographic tome to bike winter:

Women: Tara Van Rose, 16.2 miles

Men: David Hoffman, who coincidentally was the overall Challenge leader, logging 246 miles!

I heard from some people that they found the Endomondo website difficult to use. In an effort to more people to join the National Bike Challenge, Kimberly-Clark, the primary sponsor, is working with the League of American Bicyclists to build a simpler, easier to use website. Click on the image below for more information and for early registration. In case you missed it, Rob Gusky, Kimberly-Clark’s “bicycle ambassador” gave a nice interview about riding through winter on the Joy Cardin Show. You can listen to that here.

Congratulations to the winners and everyone who logged miles in this little winter warm-up to the bigger spring bike challenge. I have pasted the top mileage leaders below. If you click on the image, you can see everyone at the Endomondo site. I had a great time with this Challenge, and we hope to get 12,000 people to sign up for the National Bike Challenge this spring. Kimberly-Clark is the primary sponsor, and they have been working with the League of American Bicyclists to improve the website and make it even easier to log your miles with other smartphone apps such as Map My Ride and Moves.

Click the image above to visit the Endomondo site and see all the challengers. The image below shows the top female finishers.

Significantly more men than women logged miles in our Winter Bike Challenge. For some reason, Wisconsin always ranks very low in the percentage of women who ride bikes for transportation. We have comparable numbers to other states for recreational cycling, but Women in Wisconsin don’t seem to ride to work or the store as often as women in other states. Even Minnesota and Illinois have higher numbers. I hope we can change that.

Only 20 women logged miles, compared to 104 men in our first Winter Bike Challenge. I hope more women participate in the Spring Challenge.


Even though our challenge is over, I encourage you to give winter riding a try. While people all around me are complaining about our cold, snowy winter, those who I have been riding with have been loving it. I have been having a blast riding to work, and riding for fun with my friends on weekends. I have been wanting to ride down the Milwaukee River for years, and now I can say I have done it! Whether you ride for transportation or just for fun, riding in the winter is easier than you think. Most who have not tried it think it must be cold, but actually you have to dress pretty light so you don’t overheat and sweat too much!

To inspire you, I have created a gallery of bike winter images on the Bike Fed’s Photoshelter site. Click the image below to look through all the chilly two-wheeled fun.

Except for the occasional skier and snowmobiler, there is no need to worry about traffic if you take the Milwaukee River Trail. Here Tom Lais and Tony Berger head north to Good Hope Island. Click the image to visit our bike winter gallery.

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.

17 thoughts on “Bike Winter is Over; Long Live Bike Winter!

    • Cullen,

      You can see people’s routes (if they record them) on the Endomondo site. I think most of David Hoffman’s miles were training/recreation, not commuting.

      • That’s right. While I commuted to work year-round when I had a job, retirement has allowed me the freedom to design “commutes” of various lengths and destinations, and the time to ride them. I miss the rides to work though.

        • Congrats on all the winter miles David, truly inspirational riding. Email me to let me know how you want to collect your Endure book. Kinda cool that you won the book and the challenge!

          • Thanks, Dave, and thanks for organizing the Winter Challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For me, coming in first was a bonus and an honor with so many strong riders. Any one of them could have won. Hopefully, next year’s challenge encourages more people to come out and enjoy a season so many only complain about. Cheers!

  1. I found the edmondo site easy to use.i especially like how it announced every mile and added the miles up for me so all I had to do was turn it on and ride.

    • Thanks for the positive feedback and for riding Mike! Hopefully the new site will be even easier and more fun.

  2. The winter challenge was fun. Thanks for putting it on. My 17 mile one-way bike commute was a bit chilly at times (especially on 2/3 when it was -16F when I left the house). Amazed at the miles some achieved and the amount of people participating. Good job everyone!

    Don’t think I have the guts to ride my Pugsley on a frozen river….but that sure looks like fun! The new Minooka Park trails in Waukesha have been great all winter. Just need some more people out there riding them.

    Oh, and great photo gallery Dave! Love it!

    • Thanks Isaac, I agree, the mini Challenge got me back into the habit of logging my miles and it was fun to look back on my week and see a log of all my trips.

      As for riding on the River, yes, you need to be careful, but we rode on snowmobile tracks and there were a bunch of people out walking dogs and skiing too.

      Not sure what the Fox River is like now, but you do have to be careful. Riding with a group helps take some of the fear out of it too.

  3. Thanks for the excuse to get off the trainer ride my bike outdoors! Now that I know Dave H. is retired, I feel a bit better, at least I won the full time job class. That 230 miles (at 13.5 miles per hour!) was a real boon to my fitness, no way I would have had the motivation to put in that time otherwise.

    • Nice riding David (and Dave H). I’m not retired (yet), but at 52, one thing I have learned over my years of racing, touring and commuting is that there is always someone who is faster or rides longer than me. That was true when I was a mountain climbing 135 lb 27-year-old and it is true today.

      That said, I agree that a little friendly competition is a wonderful motivational tool.

      I’m glad you got into the spirit of the Winter Bike Challenge. Keep the fitness for our Spring National Bike Challenge. We want Wisconsin to be #1 this year. We started the challenge and it is time to take the title back!

  4. It was a really fun challenge; I truly enjoyed it.

    It appears, though that, not only was there a low level of participation among women, but basically everyone was white and middle-class. That seems problematic to me. Is the Bike Fed working to change this?

    What are your plans for reaching out to lower-income residents?

    If I were to look at this challenge’s participants, I would assume that one needs a specialized bicycle with lots of special apparel and equipment in order to ride a bike in the winter…that’s not to fault the participants or organizers…it’s just not realistic for many people to afford these things.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed it; I just feel it would be nice to share the feeling with everyone in my town, regardless of gender, race or income level. I’m hoping the demographic shifts a bit as we move forward…

    Thanks again for a very enjoyable Challenge!



    • Hey Verge,

      The Bike Fed does as much as we can to reach out to a diverse audience. Our staff is multi-racial and multi-lingual. Our bicycle education programs in schools work with thousands of mostly with minority, low-income youth. Our Milwaukee office is in a low-income, minority neighborhood. We work with neighborhood associations and hold events in low income, minority areas. Some of our events are promoted in multiple languages.

      Unfortunately, none of that has moved the bar much in terms of who our members are or even the demographics of those who consider themselves to be “cyclists.” The Challenge kind of mirrors those who do call themselves bicyclists: white, middle-class, middle aged, and male. Not exclusively, but mostly.

      Our staff continue to reach out to diverse audiences, but much more needs to be done.

      And please do keep reading, writing and riding!

  5. I would also like to leave a positive comment on the Endomondo site. I have been using it quite easily now the past couple of years and it not only ties in with our logging for contests but also updates MyFitnessPal automatically for me. I love that now I can look back over the years and see the difference in my riding and it helps me obtain my overall goals for the year. I am shooting for 4800 miles this year and so far so good. I expect my Fat Bike will REALLY help with the winter miles. See you on the river this weekend.

    • Nice to hear positive note about Endomondo Jim. I have even higher hopes for the spring challenge website, which will integrate Moves and Map My Ride apps as well. I really like Moves, because it runs in the background and automatically tracks and maps walking and bicycling. The new Challenge website is supposed to allow those miles to input automatically as well. That will add walking miles and save me the trouble of remembering to turn on the Endomondo app.

      As for the River, I am heading to Arkansas this weekend to visit my parents. Look for others on the river though. I have heard rumors of another ride. I rode from just north of North Ave. Most people met in Kletzsch Park though, by the falls.

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