A beautiful day for a bike ride…

Diane on the Rans

Enjoying the balmy weather

My big plans for commuting by bike all through the winter have been dashed by the large amounts of snow and extreme cold.  I haven’t felt comfortable  sharing the shoulder of the old Cass Lake highway with the snowplows and I still haven’t figured out how to keep the feet warm below zero! I’ve taken comfort in  superb cross-country skiing but today with its sunshine and balmy 35 degree temps I couldn’t resist getting out for a ride. 

Some of you have told me you want to see what I am riding for winter bikes.  Here are my experiments.  Last November I got a good deal on several used bikes made by Rans.  Rans is a small aircraft company based in the US that started making recumbent bikes long before they were popular.  The bike I rode today is a Tailwind, a compact wheelbase recumbent with dual 20 inch wheels.  I works well on the road but not in loose snow.  Steering is a little twitchy with the far forward small wheel.  The seat is very comfortable and if you do dump its not far to fall. 


The Cruz, ready for a winter cruise

My other winter bike is the Rans Cruz, a “crank forward”.  The geometry of this bike is stretched out so your feet are way out ahead of your hips.  The seat is wide and comfy.  One of the attractive  features is you can sit fully on the seat and have both feet flat on the ground making it easier to recover from a slip or start up from a full stop even in slick conditions.  With its 26 inch wheels this machine can plow through snow.  Both the bikes have studded tires.  As a person over 50 who knows what it feels like to break a bone I am wary of falling and really like the added security against slipping on unexpected ice. Yes, they make them for bikes, and no they are not illegal on the road.


Studded tires for winter riding.

Today’s ride was a pretty 12 mile jaunt on Sumac road.  Whitetail deer, a piliated woodpecker, a couple of bald eagles checking out potential nesting sites, and the low sun taking its late afternoon golden turn.  Incredulous looks from snowmobilers and SUV drivers.  The wind in my face.  Ahhhh.  Forecast is for 30s all week Maybe I’ll get some commuting miles in after all!

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Brrrrmidji New Years Bike Ride

Diana rides away on the Blue Bomb

2011 Brrrmidji New Years Bike Riders

Thought I’d post a couple pictures from the Brrrmidji New Years bike ride.  Three of us showed up at the Cabin on January 8th for a 6.5 mile jaunt around town.  The ride is inspired by an event in Rochester where the bike club meets on New Years day to pedal one mile for each degree the temperature manages to get above zero.  Last year was the first annual in Bemidji and we had trouble figuring out what to do since it was 10 below.   10 miles backward?!?  We settled on 2.1 miles.  This year the New Years Eve storm delayed the ride as we did not want to compete with snow removal equipment.  We had a balmy 5 degrees at 1PM, nothing out of the ordinary for Harvey Tjader who commutes all winter long on his 1960’s Huffy.  Diana Kuklinski  rode the Blue Bomb, and I tried out my Rans Cruz crank forward decked out with studded snow tires.  You know you are in Bemidji when you are out for a bike ride and you are passed on the road by a fishhouse!  We enjoyed free cookies and two for one beverages provided by Noemi at the The Cabin.  A fun afternoon.  Join us next year!

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Shifting Gears Bemidji Online

Shifting Gears Bemidji has been my hobby, my service project, my act of faith, and my passion for almost 10 years.  Based at Peoples church, we are dedicated to getting folks on bicycles for the health of people, the community, and the environment. As the days of January lengthen and the temperature starts to flirt with a thaw (if only occasionally) it is time to keep my New Years resolution and launch myself and Shifting Gears into the blogosphere.

Cycling is on the rise in Bemidji.  In the last couple of years we’ve seen new paved trails, single track at Movil Maze, “Share the Road” signs popping up everywhere, and family oriented Bike Bemidji events.  The front page of The Pioneer has featured picturesque and intrepid winter cyclists, downtown bike rack controversies, and most recently the story of a girl whose life was saved by her Dora Explorer helmet.  Bemidji is on Adventure Cycling’s northern tier cross country route and the Paul Bunyan Trail is now paved all the way from Brainerd to Bemidji State Park making our town a destination for pedal powered tourists and offering the locals opportunities for cycling adventures.  A $400,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield grant administered by the HRDC has brought a range of community members together to promote Active Living, with cycling a significant focus. The Home Place Bike and Ski Shop owned by John and Sue Tibstra is a thriving local business and continues its tradition of good community citizenship by providing promotions and helmet fitting at bike events.  More recently The Bike Guy has come to town, last year with his mobile repair service and now with a store front on Division Street.  The owner, Kirby Harmon is organizing a bicycle club.

There is a lot to keep track of, a lot to talk about and here is a place to do it.  Watch the “Home Page” for a list of upcoming cycling events in the area.  Check the “History” tab for the story of Shifting Gears.  I’ll be fleshing it out over the next month or two with pictures and will feature a story of the month about the people and relationships we build through cycling.  We will have a Links page to events and cycling information and I will blog a couple of times weekly about what’s happening and what I think about it.  Please contact me to add links, event information, and suggestions for topics.  We’ll blog about anything pedal powered anywhere near Bemidji.  Controversial topics are welcome and respect for differing opinions is expected. Join the conversation and keep the rubber side down!


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