Book Review: Frostbike

When I was looking to buy my new house, I made sure I was close to a direct public transit bus to work. As my house hunt progressed, I started to consider bike routes to work - and I totally lucked out! My new house is less than 6km from work and my bike route is awesome! It's all sidewalk, paved trail or quiet residential street, plus it's flat. In the summer it takes me about 25mins door to door, and in the winter about double. That's right - I biked in the winter! Well, not every day, but most days. I took the bus when it was super windy or during and for a few days after heavy snowfalls. And then I got lazy and found reliable free parking a few blocks from work so I drove during the dead of winter, but I'm back on my bike now! I love it. It's quicker than traffic. I don't pay for parking (or the bus). It's better for the environment. It's exercise. It's freedom.

So I was excited to read Frostbike!

By Tom Babin
304 pages

Tom Babin is a journalist currently at the Calgary Herald. One day instead of getting stuck in winter traffic, he digs out his bike, some long johns, and starts pedalling! But why don't more people bike in the winter? Babin sets out to dispel myths, provide tips, explore bike cities around the world and ultimately encourage everyone to ride through the snow. 

Frostbike is split into 3 sections. First is The Bike. Do you need a special bike to ride in the winter? Babin describes the winter bikes of the past, tests out a fat bike, and talks about the trial and error mods for his own bike. He discovers that with a few minor tweaks, you can ride any bike in the winter. So surely that's not stopping most people from winter biking?

Next is The City. Perhaps the most controversial, Babin talks about winter bike infrastructure, politics, and snow removal. He travels to the top winter biking cities to learn how all the people move around on their bikes and discovers bike infrastructure helps, but people bike in all sorts of cities with all sorts of winter issues.

Finally is The Attitude. Why did we stop playing outside in the winter? Why does no one ever walk around town in the snow? Why are outdoor winter sports participation rates dropping? Why don't we enjoy winter anymore? His advice? Just try it! And Babin closes the books with tips to help you love it.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about winter biking, or to those who are wise winter bike veterans - Babin's book is an easy quick read that is informative and interesting. It's inspiring too, it might get you on two wheels.

Honestly, it was a tough sell in the beginning but I'm so glad I got into winter biking! It's harder in the winter, and it takes longer and sometimes it's cold and slippy but it's still better than getting stuck in traffic! I'm looking forward to the spring/summer/fall bike season, but next winter you'll find me and my handmedown mountain bike with studded tires back on the road. Try it! You'll like it!