If you happen to be free the 10-12 of February and would like to head to The Netherlands for a bit there is a great conference that will be happening in Leeuwarden.
Winter Cycling Congress 2015
This is the third congress focused specifically on bicycling during the winter. The three day conference features speakers from the U.S., Canada, and Europe including MinneSNOWtans Anne Van Cleeve (Mobycon), Natalie Gille (BikeMN), and Tony Desnick (Nice Ride).
The weather will very likely be better there than here though no guarantees. The average high in mid Feb is mid 40’s with lows of mid 30’s.
Registration closes Feb 1 so if you want to go you need to kind of hurry.
Leeuwarden is about 150km (90 miles) north of Amsterdam. It can be done in a day by bicycle though it’s a good haul, at least on a city bike. I’ve ridden about half of it and nearly all was on wide smooth segregated paths.
Tony may ride it. If I go I’ll likely take a train to Assen and then ride from there which is a more leisurely 75km (40 miles).
Some Thoughts on Winter Bicycling
Bicycling modal share in The Netherlands apparently drops by about a third during many winters, particularly on the more inclement days. While some people choose to not travel at all on the more inclement days others still need to get where they’re going. Presumably they take buses, trains, or other local transit options though I’d guess some or even many may choose to drive.
It’d be interesting to know if transit operators have to make any adjustments or if buses and trains simply get more crowded. With more people likely driving I’d guess that motor vehicle congestion is greater though snow and black ice probably account for 90% of the increased congestion so a few more cars likely makes little difference.
Personally I’m a bit of a winter wimp. I’ll ride just about any distance on a sunny day above 40f with little wind. As the temps fall, the clouds come in and the wind picks up my desire to ride decreases. In general I’m good for about four miles each way above 30f, three miles above 20f, and two above 10f. I say that I’ll ride one mile in any weather and mostly have but I suppose there is a limit where I’d drive rather than ride.
I have studded tires on my Opafiets (Marathon Winters) which helps considerably. Since Shoreview does a pretty good job of keeping paths clear I can often ride a bike without them though many days I’m glad to have an option.
Most people in The Netherlands ride without any studded tires or with just a studded tire on the front. They can do this because their bikeways are maintained extremely well throughout the winter.