First long winter ride

All photos by Abe M.

My friend Abe was excited to hear that I got some studded tires on my bike. So excited that I got a text around noon today basically saying, “Hey, let’s ride to a brewery!” Despite having just finished a 10 mile trail run, I knew this wasn’t an opportunity I wanted to pass up. I put all of my new winter biking gear on, and got myself ready for a fun adventure.

Abe arrived and we headed out to hit the river road path down to 56 Brewing in NE Minneapolis. We chose this brewery because it was a route that consisted of mostly off-street trail. However, as we got close to 694 we discovered that the river trail was closed. That meant that we had to hop over on to East River Road and ride the shoulder down. In many ways this was OK because the shoulder was well plowed and it was a bright sunny day. Plus, I was still trying to get used to riding on ice and snow with studs.

IMG_2249.jpgRiding with studs is something I’m still trying to get to used to. I have a hard time trusting that the tires are going to catch like they do. Often, I would slow way down when we came to any snow or ice sections while I learned how to just trust the tires. On the ride back I was feeling more confident (plus I had a couple beers in me), and I felt like I was much more comfortable riding through whatever was in front of me.

We arrived at 56 Brewing and ordered up a couple brews, and I assessed how my gear held up. I had recently purchased a new windproof biking jacket from REI that was on clearance. Then from Freewheel bike I grabbed some shoe covers, as well as a nice 45NRTH balaclava. I’m pleased to say that everything performed amazingly. The jacket was perfect, and I never felt any wind, while the fleece on the back wicked away the sweat on my back without caking me in ice.

IMG_2247.jpgThe balaclava worked really well, and the merino wool kept my head nice and toasty. The shoe covers did their job pretty well, however they’re a bit small, limiting my choice of shoes. I might need to look for a biking shoe that has a thinner sole, so that they aren’t quite as tight to get on and off. I also threw on some latex gloves under my Craft gloves, and that helped tremendously with cutting down wind and holding in heat. Granted my hands were coated in sweat, but for a short ride it wasn’t a big deal. Overall, a great performance by my gear, and I was overjoyed that everything worked out so well.

IMG_2248.jpgOnce we downed a couple beers at 56, we headed a couple blocks away to Broken Clock so that Abe could get a growler. From there we realized that we could just head back up Main Street to Fridley, and miss all of the issues with East River Road. It actually turned out to be a great decision, and we shaved some time and distance off our return trip. It was a slow uphill climb, but it was worth it for a nice easy segment. Once we hit 44th Ave we were able to jump on a brand new bike path, complete with a new bridge over 694. That made the final leg of the trip even nicer. I can see me using this route a lot in the future to get down to NE Minneapolis.

Even though I was tired, I’m really glad I did this ride today. It showed me that winter biking is possible for me, and even fun. It’s harder than summer biking, and I know I was a lot slower than normal, but it proved that it was possible. After so many miles of running and biking today, it’s time for a nice glass of wine, and some Winter Olympics.

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