CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — The mercury read 18 degrees in Chicago Thursday morning, but that wasn’t enough to deter hundreds of cyclists for a Winter Bike to Work Day.

The avid cyclists gathered Thursday morning in Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn streets. The Active Transportation Alliance, which organized the event, set up a warming tent for the bike commuters. They were offered Caribou coffee and tea, and Eli’s Cheesecake.

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Also present with kiosks at the plaza were Get a Grip Cycles, which showed off winter gear and offered free bike adjustments; West Town Bikes, with music from a sound system trailer; and Chicago Bike Winter, offering free fleece headgear.

Cyclist Liz Miller was asked whether some people might find it a bit odd to brave the bitter cold just to pedal to work.

“It means sitting in traffic. That’s pretty crazy,” Miller said.

The Active Transportation Alliance promotes alternative means of transportation, such as bicycling, walking and other alternative means of transit. Executive director Rubani Shaw says the idea of biking in the winter is catching on.

“I think it’s increasing each winter,” Shaw said. “I see more and more people when I’m biking in now.”

The bike day comes as a new report ranks Chicago at a tie for the worst city in the country when it comes to automotive traffic congestion.

This Winter Bike to Work Day commemorates the 26th anniversary of what still stands as the coldest day in recorded Chicago history.

The low at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 20, 1985, was 27 below zero, while the high topped out at minus 4. Wind chills were a polar 77 below zero.

The overnight low for Thursday night is expected to drop to 1 below zero, with wind chills of 20 to 30 degrees below zero. But compared with that infamous day in 1985, it might as well be Miami.