When thinking about a typical Winnipeg winter, certain words come to mind: frigid, slippery, intimidating, and many others along that line. A thought that does not cross many minds is participation in a winter ice biking event.
For the past 14 years, the folks at Woodcock Cycle have organized a fun and exhilarating winter biking course, hosted at the Forks. This year’s Ice Bike race will take place on Sunday, Feb. 16.
“The race has never been about anything other than promotion of cycling, and getting people outdoors in the winter,” said Woodcock Cycle store manager Jackson Locken, one of the key members involved with the event.
Locken explains that the event is totally family-friendly; there are opportunities for racers of any skill level – from families and young kids to elite racers. Any kind of bike—BMX, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, or unicycle—can come out. All you need to participate is a bike, along with a bike helmet and a ton of energy.
The course is on the Forks grounds, as well as the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. A separate river trail has also been cleared for the race.
This will be the first time that Ice Bike will be donating the money to the Manitoba Lung Association. In previous years the proceeds have gone directly to the club. The hope is to create further awareness for the non-profit organization, as well as build the event to bigger and better things.
All adult races will be a configuration of the same course, with more laps depending on the distance. There are four different race categories for adults: the Snowflake is 4-6-km, the Icicle is 8-12-km, and the Fatsquash and Abominable are both 12-18-km. The kids’ races take place on a separate, smaller course.
James Benson has participated in the event on multiple occasions, most recently in 2006. He has been racing bikes since he was 12 years old.
“I started commuting year-round in 2007, so at the time it was a chance to ride the bike in the middle of the winter,” said Benson. “Now it’s just like I’m going for my commute on a Sunday.”
Benson also echoed Locken’s statement about getting outdoors. “Seeing like 100 people on bikes in February [ . . . ] it’s too much fun not to go.”
When asked what Locken would tell people that may be on the fence about joining the event, his answer was very simple.
“Come out and try it. It’s a great segue into competitive cycling or cycling in a group altogether. A lot of people won’t come out to a cycling race event. Whereas this, you’ll find 75 percent of the people that are in the race may have never raced in their life, or they just do Ice Bike.”
All information regarding registration, volunteering, and the map of this year’s course can be found at www.icebiking.com. You can also email Locken at firstname.lastname@example.org