Bill Miller has been winter biking for four years. He's lost forty pounds and gotten his cholesterol under control. But that's not the main reason he does it.
"I was in sales for years," explained Bill. "Lots of driving, and lots of drive up windows at fast food restaurants. When I got out of that business I wanted to do something healthier."
So he rediscovered biking after a four-decade break. Bill started riding the ten miles to his new office. He rides everyday in the warmer months, and about twice a week in the winter.
I met Bill at Madison's Winter Bike to Work Day station in front of Machinery Row Bicycles near the shores of Lake Monona. When I got there at 7 a.m. this morning, it was 16 °F and kind of windy. But it wouldn't stay pleasant for long. As the morning progressed, the wind picked up, it started to snow, and the temperature dropped. Terrible day for the event, right?
No, you'd be wrong about that. During the time I spent at this Winter Bike Challenge Week event, well over 100 people stopped by the Wisconsin Bike Fed tent and grabbed some hot coffee on their way to work. (More riders passed us by because they had places to be.) And pretty much all of them, like Bill, weren't making any kind of special effort. They just happened to come across us on their normal daily commute. Several commented on what a lovely morning it was.
These commuters rode everything from new monster fat bikes to skinny-wheeled road bikes to rusty three speeds. They came in ages from grade schoolers to grandparents.
And that brings us back to Bill Miller and the main reason he reacquainted himself with his bike. "I do this for my grandkids," Bill said. "I want to be there for them. I want to be the fun grandpa."
Dave Cieslewicz is executive director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.