You know my motto: Ride there for the exercise, stay for the deep fried mac and cheese.
True Midwestern cyclists recognize that when bike paths are finally clear of the cold-averse, bike season—at least for us diehards—is just heating up. In case you haven’t been initiated, the basic idea behind just about any winter ride is to find a destination with artisanal cocktails, hearty snacks and seasonal theme, or at least a functioning fireplace. Then, plot your ride accordingly.
With that goal in mind, I present to you the nicest, and naughtiest, reasons to bike this holiday season:
Twelfth Step Ride (Dec. 9, 8 am. to 6 p.m.)
Not to be confused with a certain abstinence program, this ride will only feel like the 12 days of Christmas. If you do all 55 miles, that is, and you totally don’t have to. There are multiple routes of varying lengths. Destination: the original 3 Floyds brewpub in northern Indiana. Come for the challenge, stay for beer you can’t normally get in Chicago. Or bring your sturdiest holiday pannier and take it to go.
Milwaukee Bike Bazaar (Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
You could be forgiven for wanting to do something jolly and bike-related without actually getting on one. A smorgasbord of festivities around the sales of bikes and bike accessories will take place just like your high school dances: in a large gym with a cafeteria, concession stand and a couple adjacent rooms to accommodate the selling process and activities. All proceeds will go to support Milwaukee Public School Mountain Bike Teams and the Mobile Bike Repair Program, which trains and employs local youth in bike mechanics and the (free) repair of community bikes.
Santa Cycle Rampage 2017 (Dec. 16, Noon to 4 p.m.)
If you’re a sucker for goofy, costumed bike rides, here’s an opportunity to showcase your Mrs. Claus outfit in a parade of biking Santas, dreidels, elves and reindeer. The 17th annual “cavalcade to combat consumerism” winds through State Street, Michigan Avenue and Daley Plaza. Too Grinchy sounding for your taste? Maybe just grab a drink and snap a couple photos with the revelers at the Twisted Spoke, where they’re meeting beforehand.
Christmas Day Bike Drive (Dec. 25, JCC Northbrook, 9 a.m. to Noon)
That bike taking up precious space in your garage could be put to use for towing cargo or as a source of electricity in a disadvantaged community. Working Bikes recovers discarded and donated bikes and distributes them to many partner countries worldwide. If unstuffing stockings isn’t your thing, start the day by giving your old bike a new home.
Shop Night with Women Bike Chicago
No matter what wintery plans lie ahead, consider learning to fix a flat before the first big snow hits the ground. Women Bike Chicago can connect you with workshops at one of several local bike groups that provide women-focused bike maintenance events.
Otherwise, you can always catch up at the Recyclery’s Winter Overhaul Class in January.