There is a common theme to these stories: Hey, look at the freaks! Sure, many of the stories have positive elements, such as the riders discussing their health and well-being. But the basic nature of the stories is one of abnormality, and not that this is a choice that can be made by people in the right circumstances – and in some cases, there are people who are forced to the choice by circumstances, although those people are rarely featured in such news puff pieces.
To my mind, a lot of these stories aren’t exactly bad for the profile of cycling in the state – or anywhere, as there are plenty of these stories in many cities – but they really don’t promote the idea of cycling as a sustainable or possible choice. It’s rare these articles contain actual tips on how to make such a decision for yourself. While many do present the winter cyclist as some sort of super-person, and thus there is the potential for aspiration, it’s really not made explicit that these people are admirable – just crazy.
I think a real sign of progress for the cycling community will be when we reach a point where these stories are driven out of the slow-news cycle by tales about fuzzy puppies, because there won’t be a freakshow/crazy element to the profiles – cyclists will simply be accepted and expected, regardless of season.
Photo by Jaymi Heimbush, via Flickr