February 2014

Let’s play word association. If I say “climate”, what’s your next thought. Probably “change”. Climate change. It’s in the news all the time. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it. It’s a big topic with big issues.

I’m not a deep enough thinker to analyze climate change but I think it would be true to say that people adapt to whatever climate they live in. Did the early nomadic Inuit (eskimo) people build their homes out of wood when they settled down for the long winter? No, because trees didn’t grow in their climate. So they adapted and built their winter homes out of the materials that were at hand, mostly snow and ice. Nowadays modern Inuit might live in pre-fabricated homes built of wood but that’s only because modern commerce and transportation have trumped the restrictions of climate.

In the same way that the Inuit adapted to their arctic climate, bicyclists adapt to the climate they live in. Bicyclists who live in climates with heavy snow throughout the winter need bicycles with the equivalent of “snow shoes” in order to ride in those conditions. In Minnesota and other northern states it is common for bicyclists to ride “fat bikes”. Fatbikes have tires that are 4 inches or more wide. Similar to the way snowshoes allow a person to walk on snow, the wider tires of fatbikes allow bicyclists to ride on snow.

There are even bicycle races that require a fatbike because they are staged in the dead of winter on snowmobile trails. Here’s an excerpt from the Minneapolis Star Tribune about this year’s Arrowhead 135:

“It was minus-24 degrees at the start line, with windchills approaching minus-50. The fastest cyclists, pedaling through snow on “fat” tires, were expected to finish shortly before midnight Monday.” http://www.startribune.com/sports/242319801.html

The Arrowhead 135 started at 7am so it took the fastest racers about 19 hours to complete the 135 mile race in the snow…an average of about 7 mph! Not exactly tearing it up. Just barely fast enough to keep your balance.

Here in Missouri we got a little taste this winter of what a far northern climate can be like. I have no doubt that if our climate changed to be similar to Minnesota’s we’d see fatbikes all over the place. We’d be racing through the snow at 7mph. We would adapt to our climate.

* * *

As I sit here writing this in mid-February, winter is taking its usual zig-zag course towards spring. Like an NFL running back sticking a leg out and pulling it back when a tackler reaches for it, winter has been faking one way, with a nice day, only to pull it back, with another cold blast.

But enough about winter! Let’s think about spring! Here’s some of the good bicycling stuff you can look forward to this spring:

  • Earn-a-Bike. This popular, free program is a partnership between the Ferguson Youth Initiative – FYI, the Ferguson Bicycle Shop, and St. Louis Bicycle Works. It is returning to Ferguson for a second year. The program teaches young people basic bicycle maintenance and safe riding skills, while they also learn responsibility and teamwork. Every young person who completes the program earns a free bike, helmet, lock, and light! Five classes are scheduled for 2014, with each class running for six weeks. It is open to young people between the ages of 8 and 15, and they don’t necessarily have to be residents of Ferguson in order to participate. The first class has already started but it’s not too late to sign up for future classes. Please let any young people or families who might be interested know about this program. Applications are available at the Ferguson Bicycle Shop or online at http://fyifergyouth.org/programs/earn-a-bike-program-in-ferguson/
  • Weekly 10-10-10 bicycle rides. Starting in April, weekly rides will leave from the Ferguson Bicycle Shop every Saturday. These rides are open to all bicyclists and will go 10 miles at 10mph, departing from the shop at 10:10 in the morning. Thus, the name: 10-10-10.
  • Ferguson Bicycle Shop 3rd Anniversary Celebration, April 26. Join in the celebration with raffles, giveaways, discounts, paint-a-bike and paint-with-bike activities, bike science demos, and lots of other fun stuff. Plus rumor has it that the celebration is scheduled on the same day and time as the Ferguson Brewhouse anniversary…
  • Thursday, April 24 and Sunday, April 27: Cycling Savvy classes. Learn how to ride your bike safely and confidently.
  • Saturday, May 17: Ferguson Twilight 5K/10K. Bicyclists will ride their bicycles on the 5K and 10K routes while the race is going on and help keep the routes safe for the runners. Come enjoy a beautiful evening of riding and make the 5K/10K a little safer for the runners. Call the Ferguson Bicycle Shop, 314-315-4940, if interested in this volunteer opportunity.
  • Saturday and Sunday, May 24-25: Pedalers Jamboree. Overnight bicycle camping trip from Columbia, MO to Boonville, riding along the Katy Trail. More info at http://www.pedalersjamboree.com/
  • Sunday, June9: Sunday Parkways! Come out and play!

And then comes summer!