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.
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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:
And then comes summer!