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Woodbury woman closing in on 30-day cycling streak, snow be damned

Kathryn Ho of Woodbury is on her way to completing the 30 Days of Biking Challenge. She's ridden every day in April despite record snowfalls. Submitted photo courtesy of Kathryn Ho

WOODBURY — Every spring, the 30 Days of Biking Challenge beckons people out of hibernation by daring them to take a bike ride every day in April.

Except that April didn't show up this year. She sent January in her place, along with double-digit snowfalls, iced-over roads and temperatures nearly 12 degrees below the seasonal average.

The Arctic spring didn't stop Kathryn Ho of Woodbury from making good on her 30-day pledge, however.

"This whole month has been a little more challenging than usual," she said.

Despite the snowiest April ever in the Twin Cities - a record 26.9 inches - Ho saddled up every day and took a spin outside.

"I have had one wipe-out this year when I tried to go through one of the tunnels under Bailey Road that had a little more ice than I thought," she said. "So I learned my lesson."

Nature threw down the gauntlet April 3, when the Twin Cities was sucker-punched with 8 inches of snow. Insult was added to injury when frigid wind and cold swept in behind the storm.

Then came the April 14-15 blizzard, which dumped nearly 15 inches of snow at MSP International Airport.

Snow problem, Ho thought. She kept her streak alive.

"I got home, shoveled my way into the driveway and said, "Hmm how is this going to happen?'" she said. "I just watched and waited for the snowplow to come by. And then I said, 'OK, this is it.'"

Blowing snow reduced the visibility to less than a quarter mile.

"I was definitely aware that a lot of snow was hitting my face as I went," she said.

Those who accept the 30 Days of Biking Challenge are encouraged to share their experiences online at #30daysofbiking. They also have the option of raising money for World Bike Relief, a program that distributes free bikes to impoverished people, many of whom have no other means of transportation.

Ho said the secret to staying warm while biking in the winter is to wear multiple layers, but not so many that it restricts your range of movement. No matter how hesitant she might have been when she looked out her window at the wind, rain or snow, Ho said she was always glad she went through with it.

"Every time I got out, whether it's windy or rainy or late at night," Ho said. "I'll have the experience of going, 'Oh, look at what I just enjoyed.'"

Often, she was rewarded for her tenacity with a beautiful sunset, or a symphony of birdsong from robins and cardinals.

"There was a very beautiful egg-shaped moon on Easter Sunday," Ho said. "I hightailed it back from Chicago so I could ride."

Her 30-day conquest attracted an audience. Her friends began asking her if she'd ridden her bike that day.

"I'm not gung ho," she said. "I don't have calves of steel or anything like that. This experience has helped me say, '"Oh I can ride my bike to the store instead of driving.'"