Bike babes and boys: have a very Merry Christmas!

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Even The Bikes Are Lit

Barring the effects of climate change, winter should have now well and truly descended wherever you are in the world. We hope you’re keeping warm and brushing away any eyelash icicles.  And you’ll be glad to hear we’re almost up to 400 challengers now.

On my ride this morning I spotted a beautiful husky going for a jog – while his owner rode alongside on a bicycle. Not sure how safe it is, but these days I’ve seen it all in Beijing’s bicycle lanes!

Beijing biker and dog

Beijing biker and dog

(Also awesome? The guy on the scooter carrying what looks like an entire pink furniture set.)

Keep sending in your photos of your rides, and we’d love to see videos too if you have them.

And have a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Stay tuned for more from us on the other side of the New Year :)

Love, Emily and Monica.

Image (cc) Express Monorail

How extreme do Winter B-icicle challengers need to be?

Winter Biking. Image (cc) Porro

One of our Winter B-icicle Challengers sent in a mainly positive email, but also with this to say:

I love the idea behind your winter cycling drive. More people on more bikes more often! But what is the point of pledging to ride everyday in the winter if you aren’t prepared to ride in the conditions that winter provides?

The reason I feel its important to mention this is because as a winter commuter I get asked by car drivers constantly about the conditions during my ride. All the time they are talking to me they are trying to impose a subtext to their statements that it is too dangerous to be riding a bicycle in the winter and that I should be careful so that they don’t kill me with their 2000LB vehicle.

By saying there are conditions in which it’d be so icy you’d probably break your neck continues this tradition of poo-pooing bicycles as viable means of transportation.

For all bikers encouraging friends and family members to “make the switch”, it’s important never to exaggerate the dangers of biking or cycling. It’s something we hope we haven’t done in laying out conditions for the ‘Winter B-icicle Challenge’. And it does bring up an interesting question: how far should winter bikers go?

The answer is simple, as far as you choose. The point of this challenge is to encourage more bike riding and less car riding. The further you’re willing to go with that, the better, but we realise not all challengers will go as far as others. There will be some who will ride no matter what the weather – hail, gale force winds, roads so shiny you could skate on them, and furious snowstorms. There are others, however, who won’t ride through such hairy weather, but it can still mean they’re riding almost every day of winter and many, many more days than they usually would.

On the ‘Winter B-icicle Challenge’ event page challenger Martin Elwell wrote: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. And in the same way, often riding through snow and ice is only dangerous because your bike is under-equipped. Given you have the right equipment, and right attitude, biking can be safe most places in the world and periods of the year.

In short:

1. If you are riding through less than ideal conditions, here are a few words of advice to ensure your safety.

2. On any day you choose not to ride your bike, we implore you to consider walking or catching public transport. These are much more environmentally friendly options than cars or cabs.

Image (cc) Pörrö

One week in and we have 200+ challengers from around the world

Today we’ve kicked off week two of the ‘Winter B-icicle Challenge’ and Em and I are super delighted to see over 200 bikers from around the world have signed up. It’s amazing to think it was just two weeks ago I read Em’s blog and saw that she had set a personal winter biking challenge for herself in an effort to commit to a green lifestyle – all year round. And later that evening I met up with her in a Beijing bar and said, “Em, you have to go big with this.”

As luck would have it Emily agreed, and within a few days we had a name (Lane Change), a site up (the one you’re reading) and thanks to the contributions of one talented bike-lovin’ graphic designer, we also had some fantastic graphics for our challenge. As for the rest, we would have to wait and see.

Safe to say it’s been amazing to see that in the last week we’ve seen our challenge spread through blogs, twitter, and mainly through facebook to all parts of the globe. Challengers hailing from London, Miami, Seattle, Boston, Syracuse, Calgary, Alaska, The Hague, Gloucestershire, Shanghai, Beijing and other cities have been sending in photos and comments.

I don’t know about you guys, but there’s something really cool – actually make that really warming – knowing every time I stick on my beanie and gloves, hop on my bike and push off, you guys are out there doing the same. That there’s 200 of us (and growing) who every morning choose to take our bike and make earth-friendly tracks all through the snow.

And just remember, every ride you make, and every day you make it – you are a biking advert for a better, cleaner, more beautiful future. Ride on!

Image: Photos sent in from challengers via. the ‘Winter B-icicle Challenge’ Facebook page. Click to enlarge.

Tips for biking safely through snow, ice and bitter winds

Beijing snows

Winter B-icicle challengers in Beijing woke up to the sight of thick, fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky. I snapped the above photo on my way to work. Over the next three months the weather will most definitely throw a few hairy snowballs your way, so it’s important to know how to ride safely when temperatures begin to fall (and fall) below zero.

Luckily All Weather Sports (via Take Part) has some great advice:

  • Try to pedal smoothly and relax your upper body, especially on ice and soft snow.
  • Road ice can provide lots of traction or very little. Learn how the different types look and sound. Try not to brake hard on the slippery sort, or if you must, use only your rear brake. Watch for dry patches where you can do your braking or turning.
  • Wide tires with widely separated knobs work best on snow.
  • Use low pressure: start with 15-20 psi and experiment for yourself. Sometimes 5 psi feels great.
  • Studded tires and chains improve traction on ice, but will slow you down.

Along with that we’d add a few ‘common sense’ pointers for bad weather days:

  • Be overcautious: ride slower than usual and best not to have your headphones on.
  • With poor visibility try and use bike lights or wear reflective vests or stickers.
  • Dress warmly – even if it makes you look like a stuffed sausage. Thermals, beanies, thick socks, big scarves, gloves, vests and boots are all musts.

Head to All Weather Sports for a full rundown on tips and all-weather equipment, especially for those cycling out in the countryside or for long periods of time.

Have any other tips to add? Leave them in the comments section below!

Send in your pics of biking in the winter

Credit: Adams Carroll

In celebration of our “Winter B-icicle Challenge” we’re collecting photos of bikers in winter doing their thing. Here’s how you can submit your pic:

Image (cc) Adams Carroll