While they’re fun and well-designed for the season, a fat bike isn’t the only way to get around on two wheels during the winter. Across Canada—and around the world—riders take to the streets year-round, riding cruisers, Cannondales, mountain bikes and hybrids. For these riders, the cycling season never really ends.
It’s also a segment of the total Canadian cycling population that’s growing by the year, boldly defying the worst of winter from the saddle.
February 12, in fact—this Friday—marks the fourth annual Winter Bike to Work Day, and the first Winter Bike to School Day. Across the globe, riders declare their commitment to cycle to work, no matter what the snow or sleet, through an official website for the international event. A scoreboard on that Winter Bike to Work Day site lists the top 10 cities and towns getting involved, a ranking that puts Zagreb, Croatia at the top with 740 submitted commitments. Canada, perhaps not surprisingly, is listed four times, with Calgary in third place at 370 commitments, Montreal fifth with 307, Toronto seventh with 251, and Edmonton 10th with 174.
It’s almost like a breakdown of where biking through the winter means the most. Along with Croatia, Serbia, Russia, Finland and Kazakhstan are all among the other hot spots for winter warriors.
Across the country, with the event being organized as sort of a global, leaderless collective, Winter Bike to Work Day is being marked by different offerings for different communities. Here’s a quick look at how three Canadian cities are honouring the season’s boldest riders:
In Winnipeg, coffee shops like Little Sister on River, Fool + Horses on Broadway, Parlour Coffee Shop on Main, Cafe Postale on Provencher and Thom Bargen on Sherbrooke are offering free coffee for cyclists who bike by before 9:30 am, with free hot chocolate similarly offered before 10 am at Breakfast on Ice at the Forks.
Edmonton, meanwhile, will see its own event, offering a free breakfast for participating cyclists at Earth’s General Store at 10150 104 Street, between 7 am and 9 am. As detailed on the breakfast’s Facebook page, the event is joint project between the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society and Edmonton Bike Month/Bikeology. Riders are simply asked to bring their own travel mug for coffee.
Toronto wants to see itself as the number one Canadian city for Winter Bike to Work Day this year, of course, and it’s got a couple of offerings to draw interested cyclists out into the cold—or in Toronto’s case this week, the very cold. Coffee Public‘s College & Bay or Shaw Street locations are observing the day, offering free coffee for riders starting at 7 am on Friday. As Cycle Toronto says, “Just tell them Cycle Toronto sent you.”
In addition, a group ride will be happening for residents in east Toronto starting on Danforth Avenue. Participants, insideToronto.com announced, will meet between 8 and 8:15 am at the corner of Danforth and Logan Ave., rolling west to Bloor Street East, Sherbourne, Wellesley Street East, and then west on Wellesley to Bay Street. Along the way—assuming riders work in the area—participants will drop out of the pack as they reach their respective workplaces. A Facebook event page for the east Toronto group ride is available with more information. There’s also a similar ride starting at Lakeshore Boulevard East.
That’s all a sampling of what’s going on this February 12. Of course, all that’s really needed to join in the cross-Canada fun of Winter Bike to Work Day is to saddle up and get out there. Check out the Winter Bike to Work Day site for yourself to see how your city ranks, then get your ride ready to make some treadmarks.