150 People Showed up for the Coldest Winter Bike Rally Ever

Photo: Frank Rico
Photo: Frank Rico

Let it never be said that Chicago bike commuters can’t handle challenging weather. This morning it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit with 22 mph winds, but about 150 people turned out for the Active Transportation Alliance’s Winter Bike Rally, presented by Keating Law Offices (a Streetsblog Sponsor.)

Vincci Fung sports a scarf given out by Keating Law Offices. Photo: Ann Evans for Active Trans
Vincci Fung sports a scarf given out by Keating Law Offices. Photo: Ann Evans for Active Trans

The cold, blustery weather was a classic example of Chicago’s notorious winter wind, nicknamed “The Hawk,” and made famous by the song “Dead End Street” by Chicago Native Lou Rawls. Despite this unforgiving weather, the scores of cyclists gathered in front of Daley Plaza’s Picasso sculpture, eating free slices of Eli’s cheesecake, washed down with hot Dark Matter coffee, while talking shop about the bicycling world, in that sweet spot of the morning before work begins.

Photo: Ann Evans, Active Trans
Photo: Ann Evans for Active Trans

Reps from Working Bikes Cooperative, The Recyclery Collective, Clif Bar, Nuun, and Revolution Brewing were also on hand giving out treats and schwag. Since everyone was properly bundled up, the freezing cold seemed to be a mere afterthought.

Photo: Ann Evans for Active Trans
Photo: Ann Evans for Active Trans

“It’s definitely a little chilly,” said Claire McDermott, Active Trans’ special events director, in what is possibly the understatement of the year so far. However, she said, “a lot of our winter riders, they’re prepared. These are traditionally your advanced riders, people that do it no matter what the temperature is.”

Laura Shield' Bar Mitts practically guarantee that her hands won't get cold. Photo: Ronit Bezalel
Laura Shields’ Bar Mitts practically guarantee that her hands won’t get cold. Photo: Ronit Bezalel

Still, McDermott said, some folks who are new to cold-weather cycling showed up to the plaza as well. “I have seen one or two newbies out here. They like to ask for tips and tricks from the more advanced folks.” She noted that cold-weather cycling isn’t as hard as it looks. “Once you’re out on the bike riding, you do tend to warm up quite a bit.”

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