That’s Right, Everyone Cycles in the Snow!

17 Jan

Apart from me, because I’m a scaredy-cat – and, honestly, I’m afraid of falling and ripping my jeans. Pathetic, I know, but I love my jeans.

Anyway, this post is a hark back to one written by ‘ithinkthereforeiamsterdam‘ – ‘On yer bike!‘ which amused me greatly and opened my eyes to the bike culture of Europe. Honestly, when I used to think of Amsterdam or Finland I didn’t think ‘bike’ – well, now I do.

In Finland cycling is for anyone. Little kids cycle in groups to school, students cycle to class, parents incorporate their kids into their lives by adding a child seat to their bikes. Old ladies cycle home from the store, their baskets heavy with shopping. In England cycling is reserved for health nuts and students too poor to pay for bus fare and many bikes are mangled by anti-social youths with little better to do with their time.

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Here in Finland there is a respect for bikes and the biker; it’s as much a part of their lifestyle as a trip to the sauna. Don’t get me wrong, bike theft still happens, but the majority of people get by with just a back wheel lock to secure their bike. They don’t even have to lock it to anything.  Throughout Finland there is a large network of cycle routes so you don’t have to risk it on the road and these are maintained throughout the winter, making bike travel possible through the seasons. Yes, it’s much colder and you have to be well prepared, but I’ve seen young kids bundled up to their point where only their eyes are still visible, and they’re still cycling.

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This website cites Finland as sixth on the list of ”Top 10 Countries With Most Bicycles Per Capita’ – that is, 60% of Finns are cyclists. It’s easy to see why; walking takes such an age on these straight, long roads and it’s so beautiful why waste the view with a car? Besides, it’s environmentally sound to ride a bike which follows the Finns love of nature and all things eco. Many prefer cycling to getting the bus – it’s quicker, cheaper, better and warmer than standing in the cold while you wait.

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Top tips for winter cycling:

  • Winter tyres – these allow for better grip, especially in early winter when there’s a lot of ice around. If you can’t afford them make sure you’re careful on corners, your breaks work and that you don’t pick up too much speed.
  • Warm clothes – you’ll need really good gloves and boots to combat the wind, as well as a scarf to cover your face, a hat and ski trousers. Wind speed decreases the temperature dramatically so be sure to wrap up, even if it’s just a quick trip to the store!
  • Bike Light and Reflectors – you want to be seen by both cars and pedestrians in the dark nights of winter, so think ‘Christmas tree’ and decorate yourself accordingly.

 

 

 

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10 Responses to “That’s Right, Everyone Cycles in the Snow!”

  1. Katariina Partala January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Hahahaha this is so true!!! Some of my classmates even cycled to school on those crazy -30C mornings… 😀

  2. Jean February 12, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    I believe there will be/is an international conference on winter cycling there. Locals must be healthy if they bike en masse in winter.

    I know how it feels –here in Alberta it drops to -25 to -35 degrees C. I cycle as low as -25 C. And preferably no snow, ice..it is possible since we get snow dumps, then melts, dries up and snows again. Over and over the cycle repeats.

    Is your winter just cumulative snow, that doesn’t melt much until the end of winter. Have you cycled much in winter so far?

    • saramay91 February 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Thanks for the head’s up, I didn’t know that. Locals are very healthy – sport as a hobby is very popular here.

      Yikes that’s brave of you cycling to -25, my limit is about -15 =P

      I can only speak for this winter but the snow just stayed when it got here. About a week ago it got warmer and melted a little but then it snowed a lot again. The pavements/cycle paths are regularly cleared though so there’s only a thin layer of snow on the ground. Even if you go out before they’ve cleared it in the morning it’s possible to cycle, just a bit harder.

      I’ve only just started cycling again because it’s gotten warmer (no colder than around -13) and I tend to take short trips to the store or the lake because I’m out of practice and a little lazy too lazy. At first I wouldn’t cycle because I was afraid of falling but it’s much less slippery than I thought – you just have to take extra care =)

      • Jean February 13, 2013 at 2:40 am #

        Keep on cycling. You won’t regret it –for your health. I returned to cycling at 32….still at it @54. 🙂

      • saramay91 February 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

        Hey, that’s great, whaat an inspiration! I do love cycling and hope to continue when I’m back in the UK =)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. can’t miss [31] finlandandback.wordpress.com | na bicicleta - January 17, 2013

    […] That’s Right, Everyone Cycles in the Snow! […]

  2. My Favourite Things To Do In Oulu « Finland and Back - February 5, 2013

    […] careful there’s no reason why you can’t keep using your bike. Check out my article on cycling in Finland and take a look at this website for some routes to get you […]

  3. Cycling on ice – not recommended | ezpcgoescycling - March 12, 2013

    […] That’s Right, Everyone Cycles in the Snow! (finlandandback.wordpress.com) […]

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