Feb. 8, 2019

Bike to work all year long, even in a 'polar vortex'

Winter Cycling Congress participants share tips for hitting the streets in the cold on Winter Bike to Work Day


Pamela Hyde, Office of the Vice-President (Research)

Farnaz Sadeghpour, associate professor in the Schulich School of Engineering, is leading a workshop on winter cycling research collaborations in Canada at the 2019 Winter Cycling Congress.

Farnaz Sadeghpour is leading a workshop on winter cycling research collaborations in Canada.

Pamela Hyde, Office of the Vice-President (Research)

Today is Winter Bike to Work Day, and with the current cold-snap, you’ve got to be prepared for the weather and road conditions if you’re going to take part! We spoke with some of our University of Calgary colleagues who are taking part in Winter Cycling Congress 2019 about riding year-round.

  • Dr. Farnaz Sadeghpour, PhD, associate professor
    Department of Civil Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering

"What worked for me is to start slowly. I started cycling through the fall, and I decided that I would stop when I didn’t feel comfortable. So it got to zero degrees, and I thought, ‘I can still do it,’ and then in minus two, minus five, I was still comfortable! And now I cycle year-round. Give yourself permission to stop when you don’t feel comfortable, and that way you’ll ease yourself into winter cycling.

“My favourite part of biking to work is the sense of freedom, as opposed to sitting in a car in traffic. I get fresh air and exercise, and that creates a buffer between work and home. It gives me time to decompress on the way, and have that transition.”

  • Dr. Louis Passfield, PhD, adjunct professor
    Faculty of Kinesiology

“One of the marvelous things I discovered since I came to Canada is the metal-studded tires. So I get the biggest, fattest tires I possibly can, and that gives me a lot of comfort. The nuisance of changing the tires part way through the year is well worth it because once it gets a little bit icy, I find I’ve got great grip.

“I experiment with different routes because I feel much more vulnerable cycling in inclement weather in terms of other traffic. So trying to find routes that I find comfortable cycling in, even when the conditions start to deteriorate, has probably been the major factor for me in terms of carrying on.”

  • Robin Smith, manager, external grants
    Research Services

“I would recommend just jumping in and getting yourself some good cycling gear, and making yourself just do it. Once you do it once and you’ve spent some money on some gear, the guilt will force you to keep doing it! 

“I cycle to the university on Crescent Heights Road, along McHugh Bluff. It’s really beautiful in the morning to watch the sunrise over the city. Even on the toughest day of winter cycling, I still think I’m probably having a better commute than anyone in a vehicle on the road.”

  • Danny Haines, master’s student
    Department of Civil Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering

“If you want to start winter cycling, you need to be able to dress for the weather, which is often the same way I would dress to walk. And you need to be a little cold when you start cycling, because you’re going to get pretty hot pretty quickly! I use the 5th Street cycle track to get to the C-Train station, and then I take the train the rest of the way to the university — I’m multi-modal.”