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A Winter Bike Chat With Adam Malmanger

Photo by: Phil Hartley at Two Harbors Burlington Bay

Phil Hartley bundled up on a -19 degree day wanting to capture the beauty of a sunrise at Two Harbors Burlington Bay. He ended up capturing a photo of a lone biker shrouded in fog and overlooking a bluff, sharing it to Facebook where it got people talking. Most commenters remarked the photo was stunning, beautiful, splendid, amazing while others had more to say; “Cool, but I think he’s frozen in that spot,” said Mario. “If this isn’t the perfect depiction of a die-hard Minnesotan, I don’t know what is. Love it! A beautiful capture,” Cynthia commented. “That must be a magical ride,” Kris added. “I have full admiration for this gent. I ride year-round, but would not ride in this extreme cold weather,” shared Mark. That got us thinking – what got this rider, Adam Malmanger, outside on their bike on that bitterly cold morning in the first place?

Credit: Adam Malmanger

Well, we were lucky enough to ask Adam that question and more!

Hi Adam, first, where do you live in Minnesota? What do you do during the day when you’re not riding a bike?

I have lived in Two Harbors, MN for the past five years. Like most people, I spend too much time on my devices, but when I’m not biking and not posting my photos of biking you can find me at some of our greatest coffee shops, restaurants, breweries, or cideries.

What got you started with biking? How about biking year-round?

Credit: Adam Malmanger

 I’ve always enjoyed biking, I even have my first trike rusting away in front of my house as decor. It is funny how my perspective has changed on winter biking though because I once posted over 11 years ago that “I may be crazy and love to bike but I will not be a crazy biker biking on snow.” And now, I even bike on the ice on the breakwall and everyone thinks I’m crazy. I got my fatbike in the winter of 2016. The thing about winter living in Minnesota is that it needs to be embraced because, yeah, there are mild and harsh winters, but it’s still going to be cold and beautiful. Winter biking is just a different bike riding experience, I joke and like to say it is the most fun you can have at 4mph. Biking in a blizzard or snowfall is like biking in a snow globe and crunching the frozen snow is what I would imagine it’s like to drive a monster truck. 

On March 31, 2019, I was introduced to 30 Days of Biking during a local group bike ride, and have not missed a day yet. So if anyone is curious as to why I was out in those conditions, it is because I am not about to break my streak! Yesterday marked 1,041 consecutive days biking outside.

Credit: Adam Malmanger

What advice do you have for people interested in winter riding but who haven’t started? Do you have any gear recommendations?

The best advice I can give for winter riding is to bundle up and go for it, embrace it! Definitely need mitts for your handlebars, especially if you are like me and need to stop to take off your gloves to take photos. There are definitely places to rent fat bikes and groomed trails to experience for the first time without fully investing. 

Do you have any favorite, or must-ride, trails or parks in Minnesota? 

Credit: Adam Malmanger

One of my favorite trails is the Munger Trail from Duluth to Carlton, the first time I experienced it I was in bike heaven as I described it. Otherwise, the Demonstration Forest Network outside of Two Harbors is fun for fat bike single track, and our local bike shop does weekly group rides out there. 

Take us back to the day this photo was taken. Can you tell us more about your experience riding that day? What were the weather conditions? How was your ride? Is it a route you take often?

When I woke up my phone showed -20 degrees and had some warning about outside exposure. But, the fun thing about negative temperatures in Two Harbors is the sea smoke on Lake Superior. I always take photos of the beauty that is the lake and this area and document my bike ride. A lot of times I am motivated to get up and go because of the sunrise conditions. Because of the warning, my precaution was to wear an extra ski mask and I actually drove down to the lake and unloaded the bike, which I am glad I did because it gave me more riding time up and down the shore of the lake instead of adding time up and down the sidewalk. I was still out there for just over an hour before my toes and fingers were getting cold. It is my typical route when I get to the lake but usually, I would have just biked from the house. I only got to go halfway out of the breakwall because there was someone out there recording the sea smoke and a fisherman, and I did not want to risk running into their tripod on the ice. It was an enjoyable ride and I saw and captured some great views. When I was out there I felt the temperature to be fine, but some say it’s warmer by the lake. Also, I think it’s one of those Minnesota things, “it would not be so bad if it was not for the wind” and that day it wasn’t windy, which is why this was such an enjoyable ride. 

Credit: Adam Malmanger

Has the “bike boom” from the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your bike riding? Have you seen more people biking, or have bikes or parts been difficult to get? Do you have a local bike shop you like visiting?

The bike boom has had some impact on me personally as far as waiting longer in the repair queue, and after I disintegrated my rear hub, (months after I fell in the lake with my bike) the bike shop had to build me a whole new rear wheel because they couldn’t get parts. I saw plenty of empty bike shops, and it took longer and cost more to finally track down the mountain bike I wanted. Spokengear is our local bike shop that has helped me out plenty of times with accessories and repairs. And, under the same roof is the Cedar Coffee Company for my coffee and Cedaero where they make the bike packs. Trifecta! 

Credit: Adam Malmanger

How can people keep up with your bike riding or adventures?

People can keep up with my daily rides on my Instagram, @escapewme, visit the Cedar Coffee Company to see some of my bikeArtographs, or just find me on the trails. Ride happy 🙂