Fraser Cunningham commutes by bike to work in Cincinnati, regardless of the temperature. The 56 year old has been doing it every single morning for the past 18 months.
USA Today filmed him on his commute and on that particular day, it was so cold, that his eyes literally froze open during the trek. “It’s better than freezing shut,” he told the newspaper.
Cunningham hasn’t missed a day commuting by bicycle since July 22, 2013. His route, which ducks onto side streets and between parking lots to avoid traffic, is 16.5 miles each way. Last year, Cunningham commuted 5,074 miles. This year, it should end up being more since his offices moved a bit further away.
“I think I like winter better than summer in Cincinnati. I can always stay warm in the cold by putting on more layers and pedaling harder.”
On somewhat treacherous days, in slush and snow, Cunningham rides his fatbike – a heavier bicycle with tires so wide they look like they belong on a motorbike. In the summer, his ride takes about an hour. But in the winter, that can double to two.
“I’m going to characterize myself as a bit of a stubborn person.”
The beard helps. You could say he’s on a streak with that, too. It’s a good 16 inches long, and hasn’t been cut for a year and half. His wife, Kathy, calls it his “chinsulation.”
But even with the beard and his layers of technical clothing and the special mitts already mounted to his bike so that his gloved hands can just slide into them, after a while, he says, you just can’t stop the cold from creeping in.
In his mid-40s, those pesky thoughts about aging were getting louder. Choosing to bike to work seemed to be about choosing how to grow old. He’s been at it now for 10 years. But at this point, it’s not a choice at all. “It’s a lifestyle.”
Missing a day because it’s raining, or snowing, or windy, would be a slippery slope, he says. It has to be every day.
“Getting in the car (to go to work) is an option, but only in an absolute, dire emergency.”
Cunningham says he will bike to work until the day comes that he works no more. And when he retires, he figures that he’ll just bike somewhere else instead.