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The extreme world of the winter cycling community

By Adam Marsal

Imagine cycling 45 kilometres to work every day during heavy snowfall. There is a fraction of daily commuters who challenge themselves to cycle during winter as much as they can. Read the story of people who fight the weather for pure joy.

Extreme bike commuting has found a small but devoted following in many big cities. While there have been no formal studies of the trend, transportation experts and cycling advocates say the number of suburban bike commuters is growing. It’s not just young people, also older bikers can be found.


“There’s a gym in my office. I shower and come out looking like an accountant,” says Hains-Joachim Schmitz (57) from Frankfurt who cycles more than 45 kilometres to his office and back every day.

“The Amundsen challenge

When talking about extremes the distance is not the only topic. For some bikers the low temperature is no reason to change their bikes for other means of transport. They’d rather die than to give up their daily portion of peddling to their jobs. In the United States there’s a community participating in the ‘Icy Bike Winter Commuting Challenge’.


The task is to use your bike for commuting to work 52 times between October and March. The idea is not designed to be a competition, it’s a challenge to those willing to put on some gloves and shoe covers, get out there, to show what people are made of and to keep the pedals turning through the winter. But don’t forget to keep your bike in a good condition during winter. 

So “crazy” they make a movie about you

There’s even a film about the movement called ”A Winter of Cyclists” that captures the inaugural biking event. The film follows twelve cyclists as they attempt to cycle commute during the winter months.

All of them challenge each other during the cold, dark and snowy winter in Colorado (USA) and Sweden and experience surprising camaraderie that forms as nearly 200 like-minded riders from across the USA, Canada, and other countries join in the Challenge. For those who cycle in the winter now, this film is a tribute to you. And for those who are considering it, catch a memorable glimpse of what could await you.


Pure joy of fighting the weather

Mike Prendergast, is the man standing behind the documentary. Mike has commuted by bicycle for many years all year to work in Colorado. The experience was far superior to car driving for him. During rides, he was constantly thinking of ways to express the joys and rewarding challenges of winter bicycle commuting to others in ways they could comprehend. He thought if people could see and understand how much gratification can be derived from it they might try it.


When his friend, Scot Stucky created the Icy Bike Winter Commuting Challenge, it provided a perfect backdrop to capture what it is like to ride a bike all winter long. Mike took a leave of absence from work and filmed ten riders traveling from home to work and back all winter to produce the movie A Winter of Cyclists.

If commuting during winter is not hardcore enough for you, read our article about commuting at the South pole.