In cold weather, some bike clubs switch to indoor gatherings, alternate activities

Although you may not like winter,

You can still enjoy the cold without cycling,

No bad weather,

When friends meet

For coffee, snowshoeing and hiking!

The Viking bike, anyone? At our latitude, winter biking may not be for everyone. Recognizing this, bike clubs are offering various activities to connect members, with some even offering “Zero Mile Rides”, “ZMR”, aka Zimmers. To what?

I first heard of Zimmers a few months ago in January when the Arlington Heights Bike Club invited members to lunch at a local cafe, bike optional. Since then, I have watched many clubs organize ZMRs, and not just in the winter. Some involve coffee, others stronger libations. Still others are simply alternative activities. As one pilot remarked, “It’s the camaraderie, not the miles.”

A 19-year-old concept?

Gary Gilbert, past president of AHBC, notes that a “conversation between myself and Jim Shoemaker (now deceased) in January 2003 gave rise to the idea”.

“On club rides we are used to breakfast stops most weekends. We have decided to have monthly social gatherings on a weekend from December to March, either Saturday or Sunday “, offering a chance for non-driver spouses to join. It expanded to include one dinner each winter month. Jim suggested we give mileage credit for each pancake eaten,” Gilbert said.


Speaking of mileage credit, Ella Shields notes that ZMRs also refer to club trips where “we just don’t count the miles” in the club’s cumulative tally, a practice that many clubs follow. his club, wheeling helmsmenorganize both.

Wheelmen President Deb Wilson is proud of their “variety of zero mile activities”. We hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski at Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve. We always meet at Deerfield Bakery to share coffee, tea or soft drinks, sometimes donuts or coffee. cake. But we all enjoy the company of others as we seek to solve all the problems of the world.

Indoor training towers

Some club members on indoor trainers “participate in online virtual riding on Zwift or RGT platforms,” Wilson, a more active ZMR type, continues. The Zwift app lets riders connect with each other for more collegiate indoor riding experiences.

Downers Grove Bike Club President Jeff Bolam echoes this indoor riding connection between members, with “weekly indoor Thursday night dates on Zwift with a Discord audio chat channel.”

COVID permitting, club runners meet monthly at Downers Grove’s Ballydoyle pub. Undoubtedly, they also solve the problems of the world.

Club members engage in many off-season activities, according to Bolam, including weekly hikes on the trails or cross-country skiing at various locations.

“We also have a small but sturdy group that rides outdoors year-round, usually in Palos or other trails, with big bikes in the snow,” Bolam said.

“I love being outside”

Newly elected Joliet Cycling Club President Janae Hunziker notes the club’s weekly hikes to Cook County and Will County forest preserves and state parks.

“Each week the hike gets longer and/or more strenuous due to the terrain. Most of our members love being outdoors.

“Some members train at home with a trainer,” she continues, “by meeting other club members on Zwift. On COVID-free years, we host a chili bowl: potluck with chili, followed by ‘a bowling alley.’

Ride leader Joanne Davis explains that her Evanston Bike Club has adapted zero mile rides for multiple activities. “I often use zero miles when bad weather prevents the planned ride. We are always able to socialize and enjoy the camaraderie, which often includes a meal. EBC’s nickname is the ‘Eating Bicycle Club’.”

Year-round rides attracting zero-milers include destinations such as art exhibits, the Chicago Botanical Garden, tours of Rosehill Cemetery, and Chicago Architectural Foundation sites.

“But, usually, we just meet at a restaurant — often Panera,” Davis says.

By incorporating “zero mile ride” into the description, “anyone can join us at the destination,” adds Davis. “That way, riders who aren’t up to speed or running out of time can participate. Riders get the mileage, non-cyclists get zero-miles. It’s the most inclusive invite for people to participate.”

Turn it on

the Chicago Winter Bike Swap returns from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 13, with 32,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Kane County Fairgrounds Event Center in St. Charles. Last held in 2020, the exchange exceeded space on the Palatine’s Harper College campus, according to organizer Hal Honeyman.

Owner of The bike rack in Saint-Charles and founder of Mobility ProjectHoneyman changed venues due to the popularity of the event, now relying on the bike’s own surge since COVID.

“I want to offer more than just a sales space,” he notes.

In addition to the expected 80 vendor tents and information tables, a bike corral is available for testing new/used bikes on an indoor track.

In the corral’s “single swap section”, individuals can sell a single bike for a $15 fee.

Honeyman also boasts a separate lounge area on the swap floor where speakers will deliver seminars, like “Bike Safety Tips for All Ages” and “Mountain Biking for Beginners.”

Regional bike clubs and groups like CAMBr (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers) and Ride in Illinois, the statewide nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization, will distribute information. A separate pavilion for adapted bikes – specialized bikes for people with disabilities – will include staff helping participants test out these bikes.

All attendees will be required to wear masks as mandated by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Public admission is $5 ($5.50 credit card) for ages 12 and up. For more information, see the Chicago Winter Bike Swap website,

• Join the race. Contact Ralph Banasiak at [email protected]

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