Anthony Brown, Miro Rakic, and Deacon Newhouse took the top rankings for the Campus Cycling Collective’s Great Winter Get Out last winter. Though they braved the elements to rack up the points that secured their victory, they all commute via bicycle in the winter.

Looking for a way to have fun in the snow this winter? Thinking about getting into winter bicycle commuting? Look no further, this challenge may motivate you to get out and ride more this winter!

The Great Winter Get Out is a scavenger-hunt-styled competition held by the Campus Cycling Collective. This game spans three months and is filled with fun winter activity challenges for participants to complete. Challenges include participating in public events, riding bicycles in the wintery abyss, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and documenting it all along the way. Participants submit photos and videos as proof of completing activities, collect points for challenges completed, and keep track of their rankings through an app called GooseChase.

I was able to sit down with all three to discuss their experiences during last year’s GWGO and how it encouraged them to stay motivated to ride and commute in the brisk conditions.

What surprised you about biking during the winter in Buffalo?
Deacon: “In a good way, how beautiful the city is, especially at night while it’s snowing. It gets really quiet. Also, how important gear is. I’m from Texas originally so outdoor gear is not something I immediately thought of.”

What was your favorite challenge to complete?
Anthony: I had a few favorites.

Create your own challenge was so fun. My challenge was to get as many people as possible into the GWGO Challenge and to help earn them points. It was a blast and a couple of people caught “points fever.”
I loved putting together a string of challenges in one big ride – especially with Cyd (my wife and partner).
“Sketch-O-Strava” big drawing rides. I mapped out the heads of Lincoln and Washington on the city of Buffalo using MapMyRide (during Presidents Week). Groups of us rode them for points. Mt. Rushmore? Whatever. We rode the some of the largest presidential artwork ever, covering several miles. I also mapped out a a 22-mile Santa head last December during a cold and slushy ride.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced during a challenge?
Miro: Rock salt was a challenge for flats during the 100-mile Commodore Perry ride. I ran through four tubes. Also, not having enough food was a challenge.

Among the reigning champions, some admitted pleasant surprise that winter riding is not really that difficult, noting that cold is fairly easy to control. They do have some wise words for those interested in taking on our famous Buffalo winter weather by bike.

The general consensus between the three of them is to know how to dress properly. Staying dry and not overdressing is key. Deacon suggests a good pair of gloves and some sort of wind neck protection while Anthony suggests a great pair of waterproof riding boots or shoes.

Adjusting to the cold temperatures is also an important way to enjoy the ride and stay motivated. Miro states, “Don’t underestimate prolonged exposure to cold. 30 minutes to an hour is something that one can get used to being in at once, but 4 hours or more at once is not easy to put your body through right off the bat.”

Though at the end of the day, a reward always seems to be the biggest motivator. Whether it’s a warm meal, a cold beer, or simply spending time with loved ones after work, it always feels great to see a light at the end of the wintery tunnel.

The Great Winter Get Out formally starts this year on December 1 and runs through the end of February, 2019. Learn more about the event at the Campus Cycling Collective website.