The Ballad of The Winter Cyclist

You cycle spring and summertime
and in the autumn, too
but as these three will not suffice
you ride the winter through.

On city streets and frozen lakes
and snowy singletrack.
Your bike and you can boldly go
and safely travel back.

There’s drifting snow or swamps of slush
or arctic winds outside.
But through it all without concern
the Winter Cyclist rides.

 You seldom see the sun at all.
You pedal in the dark.
With flashing lights, reflective stripes
you always will embark.

When asphalt’s but a memory,
and black ice lies in wait
buy studded tires or make your own
to be a real cheap skate.

If you wear prescription glasses
fogging is a trial.
Though you stop to scrape and wipe them,Toasty Warm!
it doesn’t last a mile.

If when you ride you underdress,
no colder can you get.
But if you overcompensate,
you’ll soon be soaked in sweat.

The mercury is plunging down
and frostbite nips your nose.
Balaclavas, goggles, pogies
will leave no skin exposed.

The weather shifts from hour to hour,
the forecast often lies.
But through it all quite unperturbed
the Winter Cyclist flies.

 When your freeheub freezes solid,
the ratchet sounds no clicks.My old commuting bike recomissioned as my winter bike.
To no avail you spin the cranks,
and wish you’d ridden fixed.

And if you switch to riding fixed,
the snow falls axle deep.
You sweat and strain to creep uphill,
for lost low gears you weep.

Perhaps you’ll try internal gears,
though greater weight you’ll lug.
Gears sealed away from sand and salt,
you’d roll on feeling smug.

Maintain your bike with vigilance,
the Winter months are hard.
Sand and salt are constant foes.
Against them you must guard.

To fix a chain or change a flat,
while crouching by the road,
with fingers numb and in the dark,
good cheer does soon erode.

The Winter months stretch endlessly,
the season takes its toll.
Yet through it all with firm resolve,
the Winter Cyclist rolls.

You see a car stuck in the snow,
to push it out takes three.
But if your bike should become stuck,
one hand can lift it free.

If first it thaws and then comes snow,
to quickly be packed down.
Lurking low, obsidian shoals
of ice will then abound.

You strive to keep your bike upright
and not fall to the street.
The cars that follow close behind
you do not wish to meet.

The ice extends for endless miles,
the hills are daunting slides.
But through it all without dismay
the Winter Cyclist glides

Now Winter fades and Spring returns.
You shed your winter clothes
to sup the Sun through longer days
and thaw your frozen toes.

You put away your Winter bike
though faithful it has been
and rip the roads on faster rides.
‘Round corners you careen.

But roads and paths seem duller trips.
Less challenge now than then.
So when the snows and ice return
the Winter Cyclist rides again.

Yes, when the snows and ice return
the Winter Cyclist rides again.


By Tuckamoredew
Edmonton, Alberta
March 2011

For helping me make it through my first winter of bike commuting I’d like to thank:
Icebike – The first website I found when I was considering winter riding.

The Raving Bike Fiend – for Winter Cycling 101

The folks at the Winter Cycling Forum for their collective winter wisdom.

The good volunteers at The Edmonton Bike Commuters shop for helping me keep a winter bike on the road.

The City of Edmonton for plowing the MUPs in a timely fashion (although next year maybe they could be sanded more promptly when they turn to ice)

9 thoughts on “The Ballad of The Winter Cyclist

  1. I think it’s a great little ballad – not super-deep, but a wonderful celebration of a little piece of insanity. Thanks for sharing – I think i will send it off to Jim Good, I think he will appreciate it too.


  2. Pingback: The Ballad of The Winter Cyclist (via tuckamoredew) « Jim's Edmonton Cycling Blog

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