My Commute is Delightful

As described in’s Mission and Core Values, one facet of better places in Minnesota is that they’re “delight cultivating.”  I’ve been contemplating what sorts of places bring me delight, and one of my biggest joys recently has come from an unexpected source: my work commute route.

[quote] Delight-cultivating: places should inspire happiness and wonder in all seasons and all times of the night and day[/quote]

After years of part-time bicycle commuting, I elected to sell my car and commit to biking full-time in early 2017.  I made this choice primarily to decrease my individual carbon footprint, but expected that I’d also see other benefits such as better health and decreased financial commitments. What I didn’t expect was how much I’d enjoy these 1.5-2 hours of daily bicycling. It’s made me look forward to mornings (I’ve never been a morning person), to the changes of the seasons, and to exploring new routes.

Blue Marin bicycle with fenders, leaning against a light pole with garages in background

My old commuter bike, with a St. Paul flag from Bill Lindeke in the background.

Bicycling in winter makes some of the little things even more rewarding, and continues to increase my appreciation for winter, much like Melissa describes in her  “30 days of Winter Biking: January 2019” post. There’s a special joy in savoring our days of cold and snow, and in the beautiful sights along the way.


The increasingly-late-rising winter sun is one of my least favorite parts of living in the northern longitudes, but watching sunrises during my commute is a (partially)redeeming joy.
Snow covered bike path with bike basket and bar mitts in foreground. River with railing and bridge, plus dawning sun and grey clouds.

Dawn over the Mississippi on one morning’s commute on the Sam Morgan trail


I often ride along this part of the Mississippi River on my route, which is probably at it’s best in the winter months with it’s ever-changing ice sheets, shards, and occasionally ice pancakes.

Grey river with large circular chunks of ice, floating in a loose mass. Tree-lined shore in background

Ice pancakes floating on the Mississippi River in St. Paul

Route-exploring in winter can sometimes be difficult, especially when there’s lots of snow (or weeks-old snow that was never removed from the bike lanes and is now ice). It’s still worth it, overall. I get to bike on a fresh coating of snow, watch some turkeys cross the road, enjoy the snow-covered tree limbs, or see the ice-cracking tracks of those who have gotten up even earlier than me.

Clear road next to fully snow covered bike path

That’s the bike path, covered in many inches of plow-thrown ice chunks and squishy snow. I had to walk up the hill this time.

Bicycle tire track through a pool of ice-covered water on the bike trail

This person must have gone through shortly before I did, as the water was still lapping at the edges of this tire track

Selfie in helmet, safety glasses, and gaiter. Covered with layer of ice.

The author, after a very icy ride

Bicycle commuting through Minnesota’s winter might not be the most obvious source of joy, but I truly do find delight in bicycling through all of these places, year-round. Sharing these experiences here also helps, and I encourage you all to join me in writing for

Jenny Werness

About Jenny Werness

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Jenny (she/her) is a carfree, bicycling, tree-loving St. Paul resident, with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. She believes that our rapidly changing climate should be of utmost concern to all of us. Board of Directors of, 2019-2024; Executive Committee - Content Manager.