Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter Follows Me Around

Snow in October?...
When I complained about the unseasonably cold weather in Vienna, the Co-Habitant comforted me with tales of 60 degree temperatures back in Boston. Imagine my dismay when I came home to this. 

Snow in October?...
Snow, in October! I went for a 25 mile ride wearing layers of wool and a down vest, my nose running the entire time. 

Snow in October?...
The sun helped me warm up, but even as late as mid-morning there were some icy patches on the Minuteman Trail, and cycling over slippery wet/ frozen leaves was especially treacherous. 

Snow in October?...
But I realise that I've reached a level of being comfortable on the bike where I will actually cycle over slippery leaves and frost-covered brickwork intentionally, just to see what happens. So far, nothing. Once my rear wheel skidded a little, but that was all. I am trying to develop a feel for traction on a fixed gear bike, so that I can be more confident once it starts snowing properly... but I am not sure I understand it.

Snow in October?...
Last winter the transition from riding a roadbike almost daily to not at all was very difficult for me, and I am trying to mentally prepare myself this time. I had been counting on at least another good month of cycling before the snow, but apparently nature has other plans and I will have to adapt (i.e. get the trainer out from under the bed). Of course I will still keep cycling for transportation, but last winter that did not feel like enough. What are your winter cycling plans?

37 comments:

  1. Studded tires are my plan.

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  2. It's my first cycling winter, my plan is to just figure it out and not freeze. It will probably involve trying a lot of recommendations from others that end up not working for me. And then I'll probably find my own way right around when spring hits.

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  3. My "plans" aren't as dependant on temps\weather so much as they (plans) are on spinal issues and whether I can physically ride at that moment or not...basically,if I'm able,I'll be out enjoying the cold on two wheels :)

    Steve

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  4. "It will probably involve trying a lot of recommendations from others that end up not working for me. And then I'll probably find my own way right around when spring hits."

    Ha! Yes indeed.

    My one recommendation would be wool, from the bottom up - underwear, tights, and base layers being more important than sweaters. That's the only thing that has worked for me.

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  5. It rarely snows here in Portland, but we get plenty of rain. So, wool under-layers for warmth and waterproof outer-layers so I don't melt...or drown. Also, good lights for the dark. Last year I lost momentum when winter came because I wasn't able to ride most of fall, and then when it was cold, rainy, and dark, I had a hard time getting myself out there. Mainly, I wasn't prepared with the right clothing so when I did go out it was miserable. If I can stay warm, I'm good.

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  6. I quickly learned that a favorite pair of pants this summer were most def 3 season pants and I had to put them away. No wonder they felt so breezy all summer..... My throat hurts and I think I needed just a touch more around my neck. Sigh.

    I gotta go ride to russos before it snows again to pick up pumpkins.

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  7. My winter plans involve daily commutes of only 2.5 miles each way with no real distance rides figured in. Time to hunker down in the bike cave and get dirty with my next project. Then come Spring, I'm going to shoot for a century a month.

    Agreed on the wool, I will be wearing it from head to toe, but I also really like having an outer shell that blocks the wind.

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  8. I plan on riding all winter, definitely for transportation and hopefully also for a bunch of recreational riding. Living in Montreal, I'll have to see how I can get off the island during the icy months as, at least according to the signs, all bike routes across the bridges to the South Shore will be closed in winter and riding in the car lanes is both illegal and rather suicidal.

    One way to keep myself active is by participating in this thing called Winterpokal, winter trophy. The idea is that you log all your time on the bike and doing other sporty activities on the website of a German roadie forum and can compete with others, either alone or as part of a team. I did it last year and it definitely helped getting me out of the house, even under the worst conditions.

    I also bought studded tires for the first time, as I've been warned that Montreal frequently gets too cold for salt to still melt the ice on the roads...

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  9. oh no, you have to start talking about winter already? bummer...

    For sake of xc skiing, i hope we get as much snow as last year.

    For the sake of biking, I hope it's a light snow year. I can handle the cold on my bike, but the mounds of snow are not so fun. i bought some studded tires at the end of last season that I'm eager to try out. i have a feeling they won't be quite what i wanted or imagined, but we'll see.

    And i'm willing to give the trainer in the basement another fighting chance. or maybe i just set it up in the bedroom...

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  10. Wisconsin, winter and cycling are not compatible. I plan to flee.

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  11. Studded tires are overkill usually, but I use them anyway because falling down hurts and I get tired of "being careful".

    I've tried several different kinds, and in order of decreasing grip, Nokian W240, Nokian W106, Schwalbe Marathon Winter, Schwalbe Snow Stud. Those are all 35mm or bigger. I would not use Snow Studs on the front tire; the studs on those tend to ride off to the side and only bite on a lean or with low inflation. That gives you a pretty creepy feeling, just rolling straight ahead and feeling the front wheel just dance around.
    On the rear, they make a little more sense, because they have a bit more tread (good for snow traction) and a rear slide is more recoverable, and the studs bite then too.

    Rolling resistance is pretty grim all around; the W240s are no worse than the W106, and give nicer grip. Marathon Winters are a little better.

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  12. Yes it cooled down today quite a bit. But it was actually nice to see snow this morning. I took some pictures as well: http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com/2011/10/first-snow.html

    My winter plans is to bike to work whenever possible. I have to take some roads that are usually not that well plowed so biking there my be difficult.

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  13. I see an update due for the "My Bicycles" section :)

    Southern California is practically spring year round... so... maybe a long sleeve unless there's an unexpected shower or cycling at dawn/night. Definitely time to change out the batteries in the lights.

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  14. The biggest question for me is: why don't I recognize that bike, Veloria? When did you get it? Is it a Mercier or a Mercian? I couldn't tell. Did I miss something? It's pretty!

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  15. Ahh, the snow has found you. It is a bummer when it comes so early in the season. I can definitely identify with the running nose, as it's been quite cold (17 degrees this morning) here as well.

    As for plans, well, I think it will depend on how bad the snow gets. If it's fairly mild, riding will remain the same, and if not... well, I may resign myself to short city bike rides until the spring thaw.

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  16. What is that beautiful beast you are riding?
    In the pacific northwest, winter means monsoon unless we get an unusually cold and snowy period. So, it's gortex, misery, running noses... not that different from the rest of the year. I still want to build a winter bike. If you want to keep 'road cycling', but hang up most of your bikes for the winter, you may want to find a beater road bike(are you trying to cut down on bikes?) that can handle grippy tires and have a set of studded tires for true winter. A bike that has mounts for fenders would be good.
    yes yes for wool. But how to keep feet warm? I find this the worst thing as I have cold feet at the best of times and biking in the cold turns them into ice. I do have a pair of winter super warm boots, but not waterproof. They are also too big and clunky. I wore them on the way to work and brought other footwear with me. I got a set of sheep skin insoles that do work well if I wear rubber boots while riding.

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  17. My winter plans are the same as summer, spring, and fall; ride daily. It's Southern California, baby!

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  18. Go touring in the southern hemisphere!

    John I

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  19. My winter plans involve a 24" tire, low bottom bracket bike for when it's a little wet and slushy, then I have a Sinclair C5 trike for when I can't imagine 2 wheels will do.

    Luckily the farthest I have to go most days is 5-6 km round trip. I can walk that if I must. The train station is less than that if I need to go into Groningen.

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  20. Re snow tires, I am seriously considering them this time around. Thanks for the rating, dr2chase.

    bostonbybike - Your snow pictures are beautiful. Going to check out the rest of your blog now.

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  21. Round here (the Northwest of Ireland} winter means lots of wool with a waterproof outer shell, and that's just to stick your nose outside the door never mind cycling. I love those rare really cold crisp dry winter days where you can get out and enjoy not getting soaked. mostly it just rains.

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  22. I will cycle only a few miles for errands if the roads are dry, otherwise I become a walker and a cross-country skier. But, like you, I go through withdrawals when I have to cut back on my miles. I pedal indoors at the YMCA, but it's not the same.

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  23. Peppy (the also, isn't it time to feed me cat)October 29, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    My beautiful silky fur keeps me warm. I ride all your bikes.

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  24. Is that a new Fixie?
    Riding this weekend might get interesting, just hope it's not more thn a couple of iches and melts by Monday.
    Mark

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  25. Peppy (the amazing velodrome-dwelling cat)October 29, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Yes, that's my new custom-built to my paw length fixie, Velouria is just borrowing it. We had to install brakes for her and lower the gears, but it fits her almost as well as it fits me.

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  26. Winter isn't really an issue here in NC, but if I were you I'd keep riding a bike for transportation, and switch to XC skis for exercise. I can't tell you how much I miss mine.

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  27. My plans? To bundle up and keep pedaling. At worst, snow and ice make it difficult only a few weeks each winter other than that it's just cold. Looking forward to a new bike with a Rolhoff drive train which makes me say all the more 'bring it on!'

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  28. "Looking forward to a new bike with a Rolhoff drive train"

    Neat. I may get to test ride one soon; never tried a Rolhoff before.

    To those asking about the bike in the pictures, it's this one. Will write about it soon!

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  29. Please be careful. I will not ride when it is icy. One bad fall (not on ice) has taught me to be super cautious. I do donn ski pants and ride in the winter, just not when it is icy.

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  30. @V - Peter White carries most of the snow tires. My guess is that you would want either a Marathon Winter or a Nokian A10. Never tried an A10, but they have the least rolling resistance (says PW) and are also the smallest. If you don't have clearance for 35mm (Marathon Winter) or 32mm (Nokian A10) then no-go. You do have to be careful of the carbide; it scratches everything. Nokians are cheaper, the ones I've tried are definitely a better value.

    I second/third/fourth any recommendations for wool. I was out in the yuck today with a load of groceries, in utterly inappropriate shoes, but wool socks, and it was okay. I use ridiculously warm gloves (Marmot Winter Work, very spendy, very nice). Been meaning to try leather with wool liners (CleverCycles recommends and sells this). Also a wind blocker; block the wind, I am good down to 20F in a long-sleeve merino wool T-shirt.

    A Rohloff is fun; however, someone your size could probably do just fine with a Shimano 11-speed hub. I have torque limits to worry about.

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  31. Thanks. I'd be putting the snow tires on my city bike, so definitely room for 35mm tires. But good to know that even a roadbike with clearance for 32mm could be fitted with them.

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  32. That cog helps with traction.
    Tyres that wide should find traction.
    Generally looks to be good setup.
    Wider rims reduces tire squirm. It was very noticeable on my bike, going from older G40s(about same as Open Pro) to Velocity Synergy. A change from a 20mm rim to 23mm seemed like not much, the difference in tracking was much more than I could've guessed. (I know you just built new. My rims were past due & I wouldn't have trashed rims with life ahead of them.)
    Lighter more supple tires will find more traction. DeltaCruisers are well made and ride OK for a tire that heavy, a 650 gram tire just cannot compete with a Jack Brown or a GrifoXS. The thinner casing conforms to the road and the reduced rolling mass allows the rider to apply English more selectively. Feedback from tire to rider and vice versa is quicker, more precise.
    Sometime you want to try a fat tire as light as your Krylions.
    Overhead room for improvement still exists. What you have is very, very good.

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  33. @V - "definitely room" is what you are looking for. I have xtracycle snapdecks, and both have had a little bit carved out of them by snow tires. http://gallery.mac.com/dr2chase#100060/IMG_1031

    It doesn't even slow you down very much. I had a kid on the back in the winter, and each time I went over a bump, BRRRRT! So watch your fender clearances, be sure that you don't accidentally pull the wheel out of alignment against the frame.

    Another cold weather tip -- from foxwear.net, "PowerShield" tights. And if you think you could grow a winter beard, that helps, too :-). With a beard, I can usually skip the balaclava.

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  34. I will ride all winter here in Pittsburgh, except for the week or two where the snow is too bad. I use studded tires in the winter, which handle ice pretty well, though they do slow me down. I use a variety of layers of silk, wool, thermal fleece, a windbreaker, and winter boots to keep warm.

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  35. Well, this winter (living in Tucson) I plan to increase my riding activity! I pray for snow and winter storms in the Rocky Mountain West. That way, we in Tucson actually begin to enjoy our balmy and pleasant winters!

    Sorry about the weather in the Northeast (I was stationed in the Army in Fort Devens, Mass. near Ayer, so I know what that looks like...).

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  36. I'll be riding my Electra cruiser bike with a single speed/coaster brake this winter. I live in Calgary Canada so it can get pretty brutal at times. I don't mind the cold so much but if there's a major snowfall it's next to impossible to ride the roads. :)

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  37. We found narrow (35 or less) studed tyres roll muc better than the wider off road type tyres so we`ll stick to that. Making some new homemade studded tyres this winter, maybe also for the bromptons. Got a light (alu) steptrough frame w 7speed nexus hub that I am trying out with some lighter (not knobby) homemade studded tyres. Apart from that: wool, wool, wool and lights, lights, lights.
    badmother

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