Ice Road Bikers: Winter Riding Hell In Minneapolis This Year

The roads are that bad in Minneapolis right now, the home base city for We posted earlier today on our delightfully cold winter in the article “50 Days Below-Zero!” and now we couldn’t resist running this image from our editor Stephen Regenold, who took the Instagram below near his Minneapolis home earlier this week.

All the coldness has made riding in “Bike City USA” as bad as it’s ever been, including a skating-rink like urban infrastructure where even studded tires and fat bikes do little to combat fishtailing and slip-sliding around the city.

Despite the ice, Minneapolis riders embrace the conditions, many riding every day no matter how cold or rutted. Said Gene Oberpriller, founder of One On One bike shop, in a comment about the Instagram shot, “For some of us, this is as good as it gets. Bring it on!”

Up close: Typical conditions this month on the Greenway Bike Path in Minneapolis

Regenold offered a few observations from riding over the last week, which we posted from Facebook below. Be careful out there people! It’s March and things are warming. Hopefully this is as bad as it gets.

Stephen Regenold: “Over the past few days, despite the ice, I have crashed only once. But there have been many almost-crashes, and I am slipping and fishtailing all over. I am glad I have roots as a mountain biker. Bunny-hopping, skidding, riding tight lines (between ice ruts), absorbing bumps, powering over snow drifts, and employing body English so I stay upright… all those skillz have come into play.

One thing is, in these conditions you really gotta “pick your line” down these ice boulevards. I was staring only 10 feet in front of my wheel and studying the “terrain” to make moves and adapt on the fly. My hands were super gripped on the handlebars.

Someone said I should be on a fat bike… yes, I wish I was on one this week. But only for those narrow ruts that catch my 700c tires. And sometimes there are sections were the snow is deep and I need some “float.” But overall I would not want to commute on a fat bike most of the winter. Too heavy and slow. I pass the fat riders every day going twice their speed.

Fixed-gear is awesome in these conditions and all winter too. I like to be 100% engaged and fixed is the only way. Freewheel would scare me as I think I’d drift and crash when coasting.

Studded tires help, but they are no godsend. I am rocking the 45NRTH Xerxes again this winter. They work only a little better than pure rubber on these sick, icy days.”

—See more on winter biking (and the bike in the photo above) at the story “Studded Tires, Fixed-Gear… Customized Rig Is ‘Ultimate Urban Winter Bike’.”

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.