Active Transportation Alliance’s Chicago Winter Bike Challenge

“If I could describe biking in one word it would undoubtably be the word free,” Chicago local Anna Affias said. “That word says it all. There’s something so liberating and pure about riding a bike. There are no rules, there are no boundaries, only you, your thoughts and your bike.”

Some might think in regard to biking in Chicago winter, words like “cold” and “ow” and “my poor baby nose” are more apt. But truly, Affias is not alone for her love of cycling, even in the midst of winter.

Chicago biking and walking advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) is actually seeing increased participation in their third annual Winter Bike Challenge, which is ongoing now until Jan. 27. Registration for the challenge is free online, and cyclists can log their miles on ATA’s website or app.

Chicago Tribune reported about 375 people are currently signed up for the challenge, compared to 222 in 2015, with the most active cyclist winning a fat tire bike.

Image of cyclists on the street in snow

Bikers cross a busy street in winter snow. Photo by Colville Anderson at

“Other than a broken bottom bracket on my commuter bike, breaking on Friday the 13th…it’s going well,” Affias said. “To be honest, my daily commute hasn’t changed much because of the Winter Bike Challenge. However, it has been fun to see an increased amount of cyclists on the Lakefront Path and to link up with friends who don’t always commute by bike.”

So far, in total, participants in the Winter Bike Challenge have logged close to 14 thousand miles and burned over 678 thousand calories to date.

“There are, of course, times when your legs cramp, you can’t keep up, it starts to storm, you get a flat, etc.,”  Affias said. “But all of the downfalls, set-backs and struggles make you stronger both mentally and physically, on and off the bike.”


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