FF05: Winter Solace

Each Friday, we publish a post from the team at Full Cycle – beneficiaries of the Surly Masher. These snapshots of their work and the youth served will help you get to know them better, and appreciate the importance of supporting youth experiencing homelessness in our community. We also encourage you to visit Full Cycle Bike Shop in South Minneapolis to see their work first-hand, check out the shop’s inventory, and get set-up for winter.

 Photo by Mira Kemppainen on Unsplash

Photo by Mira Kemppainen on Unsplash

Winter in Minnesota can be brutal for your everyday commuter, and cyclists are no exceptions. Rush hour commutes happen in darkness, on streets made narrower by snow and ice. Cables can freeze and tires can slip, and of course there’s always the challenge of keeping fingers and toes from numbing and breaking off – that’s how mine feel at least. Those polar vortexes the last couple years were no joke.

Whether it’s a few miles in the saddle or a dash out to the car – winter can wear us out and work us thin. As proud Midwesterners and transplants we find ways to make it through. This is part of the beauty of making this our home. We figure out the right gear, pump ourselves up, and find solidarity with others to embrace the cold – at least that’s the goal. So why not hold an outdoor biking event in the middle of February?

*PSST* Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty to keep you warm between fire pits, a heated prize tent, beer, and the demo course built by Surly Bikes. There also happens to be a huge indoor brewery located on the Surly Brewing property (go figure).
As an organization focusing on the needs of youth experiencing homelessness, the Surly Masher lets us pause and consider the effects of winter on another group of people. If you’re homeless, winter brings challenges most of us don’t face. At its extreme, it can be life threatening.

It may sound obvious, but when a person is homeless they don’t have many places to go day or night.

It may sound obvious, but when a person is homeless they don’t have many places to go day or night. Even if a person has landed a bed for the night, shelters close during the day. This increased exposure to the elements – most of the day and night in some cases – has a huge effect on a person’s health. Winter can mean anything from more flus and colds to frostbite and hypothermia. Winter also means increased feelings of depression and isolation.

Beyond health and wellness, there are other challenges like more demand on spots in shelters and housing programs. Busses that delayed due to weather and increased rider-ship mean being late to school, work, and appointments. Keeping track of winter gear from day-to-day and season-to-season is never easy. And replacing a pair of mittens or boots is more complicated if you can’t drive yourself to the store, much less afford to buy a pair. One of these challenges on it’s own could be manageable, but the impact of one can set off a chain reaction of other challenges – leaving an individual overwhelmed by the burdens of the season to say the least.

Full Cycle takes extra care in the cold season to provide appropriate resources to young people. Outreach workers are sure to carry extra socks, gloves, hats, and hand warmers. They also help young people strategize and get creative to stay safe in the winter.

We love winter-biking as much as much as the next shop, but we’re quick to hand out extra bus tokens to young people needing to get from place to place, or who might depend on the Light Rail or all-night bus routes to stay warm. Handing out a $5 or $10 gift card allows someone an hour or two out of the cold at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant, in addition to something warm to eat or drink.

Winter is hard. It is also quite beautiful – especially when it brings people together. So as we enter the new year, let's raise a glass to winter. Here's to embracing the elements, keeping our spirits up, and helping one another make it through. And here’s to 2018 – the inaugural year of the Surly Masher!

About Surly Masher

Surly Masher is a winter bike event benefiting Full Cycle, a non-profit bike shop providing job training, food, resources, and support to youth experiencing homelessness across the Twin cities. Located in South Minneapolis, Full Cycle is a social enterprise of Pillsbury United Communities.

Taking place on February 11, 2018, Surly Masher is the FIRST-EVER collaboration between Surly Bikes and Surly Brewing – two iconic Minnesota brands destined for a good mashing! This family-friendly event welcomes riders of all ages and abilities to test ride the latest from Surly Bikes on a demo course at Surly Brewing.

To guarantee a surly experience, this winter bike event will take place in February – a time in Minnesota that nobody wants to be left outside. Please join Surly Bikes, Surly Brewing, and all of our sponsors. Help us raise money for Full Cycle bike shop.

surlymasher.com | @surlymasher | #SurlyMasher

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