Trail Ramblings: Seasonal Change Doesn’t Mean The Riding Won’t Still Be Good.

We’ve had it pretty good this fall in terms of bicycling. Some wind now and then is par for the course in Nebraska. Still, most of you will unfortunately miss out on the specialness of winter riding. I realize we don’t have the advantage of stable winter temperatures that minimize freeze and thaw, which creates the dreaded black ice, and the ice ruts caused by snow packing into ice. on the flip side, it isn’t always as cold as Finland here. I ran across this wonderful article last week about the cyclists of Oulu, Finland.–9wN1nQV04RZ9GamnA

A well cleared trail is a thing of beauty to a winter bicycle commuter.

Some excerpts:
“Ploughing snow from the cycling paths is prioritised higher than ploughing of the roadway,” said Harri Vaarala, a traffic engineer at the City of Oulu.
This, said transport psychology researcher Angela Francke from the University of Dresden, sends an important message to cyclists. (They also have a position titled “Urban Wellbeing Engineer”!)
“It shows that they are valued,” she argued.
Although different local and regional authorities have responsibility for various Oulu cycle paths, one subcontractor has been hired to plough the main regional cycle routes. As a consequence, each one is dealt with from the beginning to end in one go.
Also, the drivers of the service vehicles are obliged to cycle on the routes themselves, which, according to Vaarala, has improved the quality of their work considerably. (swoon)
Meanwhile, a digital map shows the condition of routes for pedestrians, cars and bicycles in real-time. Commuters, called cycling agents, report back on how well the paths are maintained in the winter, and if the ploughing has been done well, the subcontractor is awarded a bonus.”
I thought about how wonderful that last paragraph would have been all those snowy days last winter. After a snow, I never knew if the trail I was on was going to be on would be cleared where I was going. Sometimes I had to drag my bike through snow too deep to ride through. Other times I’d have to ditch it and take to the street, glad there wasn’t too much traffic. The clearing would often end at the border with another jurisdiction. Some of you did report back on conditions and I was grateful for that.

On dirt sometimes all you need are more riders to pack it down nicely.

And there’s this: (in the ’60s) “The city had actually ordered a US-style traffic plan from New York, complete with broad car lanes, ring roads, and complicated intersections.
However, visionary traffic planners decided to go in another direction, and the grand plan was scrapped.
Instead, pedestrians and cyclists were prioritised.
“In Oulu, the bikes get to take the most direct routes, while cars have to take detours, and this is unique in the world,” Perälä pointed out.
The inhabitants are used to this cycling and walking-centred way of planning, so promoting cycling stirs no controversy among Oulu’s car owners, both Vaarala, Perälä, and Tahkola assured.”
And “When the share of bike trips in a city goes up, congestion eases, noise and emissions go down, and the inhabitants become healthier, said Vaarala. This will also lead to economic savings: a calculation from Helsinki showed that for every euro spent on cycling, the city would reap benefits worth €8. …”Francke, whose main research interest is cycling, stresses that strong bike countries like the Netherlands and Denmark were not always great places for people on two wheels. “If you make roads for cars, they will be filled, and if you make cycle lanes, they will be filled too! It all depends on what kind of city you want.”

Cold weather fun is a mindset, but dressing appropriately is an important part.

So now you’re interested in trying it out, but don’t know how to stay comfortable? Read this article.

Photo Courtesy Pirate Cycling League/Gravel Worlds

Also, it’s time for planning next simmer’s cycling goals. Pirate Cycling League is encouraging more women and girls to take up gravel riding and racing by opening 1000 women’s positions a week early for Gravel Worlds. Thanks to an anonymous female donor, now $15 per woman of the 1000 Women of Gravel Worlds will be donated to the Nebraska NICA GRiT (Girls Riding Together) Program! Check it out at

Finally, the buzz recently has been about the new pump track planned for Lincoln. Read all about it at—-pump-track-planned-for-lincoln/article_6c587c4b-a492-5844-b6c1-097194d89fe0.html?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&utm_medium=social&utm_source=undefined_Lincoln_Journal_Star&fbclid=IwAR1pJgubq7Cu0DKAVq0TRqq4ZCfeppIeI4qUHp_8dHvbiyVPYxH8E58Y5oA