Buffalo: The City of Lights and Ice Bikes

With the temperatures rising, the end of Winter is near. That means that there isn’t much left time to enjoy Buffalo’s frozen waterfront. With the forecast showing 50 degree days, I knew I had to experience the Ice at Canalside before the season changed.

I have been to Canalside many times but this is the first time having the true Buffalo experience on the ice. I went ice biking. I have been waiting to get on an ice bike for the past year, since Canalside introduced them last Winter. However, when the ice rink first opened, the line to skate was down the block and the wait for the bikes was even longer. Now that the hype for the ice rink has somewhat faded, the rink is far less busy. You won’t have to wait in a long line to skate. You will however have to wait for a weekend if you’d like to go ice biking. The skating is open everyday but the ice biking is only available Thursday through Sunday. I had to learn this the hard way when I showed up to go ice biking on a Tuesday, only to discover that the rentals were closed until the weekend.

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The weather was stormy when we showed up to Canalside. The snow was coming down pretty hard. But a little snow won’t stop me from having a good time, I am a Buffalonian. I layered up to face the snow. With my two layers of socks, my hat and my gloves, I was almost warm.

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The ice bikes cost $12 per person to ride for a half hour. This did not seem like enough time. Initially, I thought I would want to ride around the ice rink for hours. It would be easy, like “riding a bike”. Before getting on the instructor gave us helmets and a few pointers. She said since we weren’t children that she didn’t have to tell us the rules. Basically there are no rules besides being respectful and wearing your helmet at all times. The instructor set timers on our helmets for 30 minutes and gave us a push off onto the rink.

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I got an adrenaline rush as I began biking around the rink. The cold wind was blowing against my face and there was upbeat music playing over the speakers. It was so much fun! I was grinning from ear to ear. Then I began swerving. It was only my first lap and I was not yet used to maneuvering the bike. Soon I gained control of the bike and it was smooth biking from then on out. Every once in a while I would let go of the handle bars and almost knock someone out. I tried to hold tight onto my handlebars so I wouldn’t run someone over.

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Ice biking is not just like riding a bike. It’s the same basic concept, but it’s a whole lot harder. Maybe it was because there  was a build up of snow of the ice, but the bikes didn’t glide with as much ease as I thought they would. Ice attendants skated around trying to shovel the snow off the ice. Yet, the snow kept falling and the attendants couldn’t keep up. After a few laps, peddling began to get tougher. The worst thing to do is to stop. Once you stop, you have to use a lot of strength to get the bike moving again. I would just jump on the peddles and hope my body weight would send the bike gliding down the ice.

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We went early in the day so we had the rink almost all to ourselves. I was glad to go when I had more free range of the rink, rather than when it’s really busy at nighttime. It was such a unique experience that you can only find at Canalside. The brightly colored bikes set the vibrant tone of the excitement of Canalside. In Buffalo we love our snow and we’ll do anything to find more Winter time outdoor activities. Even though I thought the 30 minutes wouldn’t be long enough, it was the perfect amount of time and was well worth the cost.

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Now that my legs are a little sore and my nose is a little cold, I retreat to the pavilion to warm up. Once you have warmed up, grab a hot chocolate and walk along the water front. When the sun sets, you can see the grain elevators illuminated. Inhaling the scent of cheerios from the old grain mills as you witness the newest instillation at Canalside. Which were once dark towers in the night, now dance with colors, further illuminating the city of lights.

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