A Norte! Story: Carter Bikes Happy With Winter Bike To School Day

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Meet Carter. Carter is a 6th grader at East Middle School. Last winter, when he was at Central Grade, Carter participated in Winter Bike to Work and School Day here in Traverse City. He was joined by his Principal, Mrs. Gallagher, several Norte! volunteers as well as 100+ awesome people across TC who embraced winter and pedaled to work/school together.

We asked Carter to share his experience. Here’s his story:

Winter Bike To School Day
by: Carter Schmidt

As I pulled on on my snow gear I grumbled to myself “Why can’t I just take the bus instead of biking to school? ” It was International Winter Bike to School and Work Day and my school’s principal, Mrs. Gallagher, was joining me to bike to school. International Winter Bike to School and Work Day is a worldwide competition where cities compete against each other to see who has the most people willing to bike to school or work in the dead of winter.

Traverse City was competing against cities like Montreal, Minneapolis, Moscow and Oslo and we were in the top 20. Norte! was trying to get as many people as possible to ride to work or school. Norte! is a youth focused, bike centric, advocacy organization that my parents started.  Mrs. G and 4 other brave souls chose to ride with me.

As soon as I walked into the cold air I involuntarily shivered. The thermometer showed that it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn’t the coldest day I had ever ridden but it was still chilly. For the last two years, I rode my bike to school every day. I learned a lot riding in some miserable conditions. My mom always says “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.” You have to dress smartly because the temperature can get into the negative teens. I wore a ski helmet and buff to keep my head and face warm. Also, you don’t want to ruin your nice bike. I rode a junky old mountain bike that my dad found in an alley. To get more traction on the snow, I let air out of my tires. It also takes some practice to learn to to handle your bike in the snow.

Mrs. Gallagher and I kind of had a hard time getting started due to the slippery snow and ice but once we got going it was fine. The streets were pretty clear thanks to the City getting out and plowing early in the morning. As we headed down Washington Street there wasn’t much traffic. As we got closer to school, there were more cars.

Once the school was right in front of us, I wanted to get out of the cold air so I started biking faster. As I approached the bike rack, I noticed that other kids rode their bikes too. I quickly took off my helmet and ran into the school. As I hit the heat of the warm building, I felt something cold drip onto my cheek. I realized that the ice on my eyelashes was melting and dripping down my face. What a great way to start my day!

A few photos from our Winter Bike To Work and School Day Gallery

Norte! has played a part in mucho Bike Happy moments in Traverse City this year. From pedaling to school to exploring our woods and trails, Norte! has empowered our local youth, like Carter, to be resilient, independent, and self confident both on and off their bikes.

If you like Carter’s story and want to support more of the same, please consider donating to our end-of-year Bike Happy, Traverse City  campaign. With your continued support, we’re committed to building a more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its youth through bicycles.

Gracias. And let’s ride bikes together soon.

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