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Winter Biking  RSS feed

 
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The weather may be hard to gauge these days, but it is tough to deny that some semblance of winter has arrived and we will be dealing with the cold, icy, wet, snowy, rutted, slushy, puddly conditions for at least a few months. So, as a winter bicyclist I am offering my two cents on preparation and riding in this season. Add your own, if you have your own suggestions.

1. dress in layers
2. fenders are good
3. wear a helmet: I sometimes like the ski helmet for the added warmth
4. studded tires: I don't use them, but some people like them
5. oil that chain: do this regularly (weekly) to keep your ride from rusting and wasting away.
6. bike lights: essential at night
7. wear goggles for cold and/or snowy conditions
8. road versus sidewalks: depends on the conditions: if the roads are real bad or impassible, I'll duck onto the sidewalks and take it real slow being respectful of any walkers.
9. follow the rules: be courteous as always and respectful of vehicles even though they should be offering right of way. Be aware they may not expect to see bikes and their windshields may be fogged or frosted over.
10. Go to Free Cycles to keep your ride tuned up: www.freecycles.orgĀ 
 
Posts: 211
Location: Missoula Montana
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A down coat helps too 
 
Author
Posts: 53
Location: Clearwater, Florida
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Ah, but moving to Florida works well, too.

Rules for Winter Biking in Florida:

1. Yes, you still need sunscreen.

2. Mind the tourists. They're not from here.

3. Mind the locals. They are.

4. If you cycle along the coast, not all fins sighted are sharks. Only about half of 'em, actually. (The rest are mostly porpoise.)

5. Just because the thermometer says "55" deosn't mean it won't feel cold with 100% humidity. It will. Bring a coat. Yes, with shorts.

6. Socks are considered formal wear here, even in the winter.

They ya go, then. Welcome to my world.



 
Posts: 47
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I'll add these from my experience:

1. Mittens are warmer than gloves
2. Water proof boots
3. If you don't buy studded snow tires, let the air out of your tires a little, better traction (but slightly harder pedaling, but you are pedaling through SNOW)
 
gardener
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Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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1.) balaclava
2.) weatherproof shoe or boot covers.
3.) thermos of home made chai
4.) gaiters
5.) lights even in the daytime, especially when snowing or sleeting
6.)Layers on your hands too... Here is a good example: http://allseasonscyclist.com/2012/11/02/bar-mitts-moose-mitts-and-bike-poagies/
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Take your time as drivers and conditions are worse, and more dangerous. The drivers have worse visibility and are NOT expecting cyclists to be out in this weather. Also taking your time, giving yourself longer to navigate ice ruts, snow banks, plow lines, etc, and going slightly slower in general, you will sweat less and thus not have problems with sweat induced cooling. Figure out the right speed combined with the right clothing so that you are wearing enough to be warm when stopped for a while, and if you are exerting yourself a bit that you will not overheat and sweat. I wear or bring several layers of thin wool (thrift shop) sweaters, and a rain type shell. I use the shell for wind or sleet, or snow. If its not too windy and not too cold, I just wear layers of wool. If its real windy or snowy, I wear at least a couple layers of wool and a shell. I have worn up to 4 thin sweaters and a shell. Having gloves that draw tight on the wrists keeps heat in. Arm warmers or wrist warmers, and leg warmers are of great benefit in keeping the blood warm that is heading to the extremities.
 
Posts: 22
Location: Utah
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My advice: get out and do it. I find my imagination is worse than reality. It's never as bad as I think it'll be.
 
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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It's the wind chill that gets me during winter biking. I wear multiple layers of gloves and still feel cold. It helps to bike about 2 pm during the warmest time of day. It helps to bike on sunny days.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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HI Joseph: 

It's the wind chill that gets me during winter biking. I wear multiple layers of gloves and still feel cold.

  The thing about gloves is that there is a compromise between insulation and dexterity.  In order to have dexterity, you must have a certain level of tightness, and that compromises insulation; even with high quality gloves.  With layers, one especially has to have tightness to have the dexterity.  The link to the hand covers that I gave in one of my previous posts shows something very different.  These go on your bars and  allow you to have the lighter gloves with dexterity inside the insulated and very shielding cover.  Although these are pricey, a guy of your talents could fashion something similar for a minimum cost.    
 
Grant Holle
Posts: 22
Location: Utah
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:HI Joseph: 

It's the wind chill that gets me during winter biking. I wear multiple layers of gloves and still feel cold.

  The thing about gloves is that there is a compromise between insulation and dexterity.  In order to have dexterity, you must have a certain level of tightness, and that compromises insulation; even with high quality gloves.  With layers, one especially has to have tightness to have the dexterity.  The link to the hand covers that I gave in one of my previous posts shows something very different.  These go on your bars and  allow you to have the lighter gloves with dexterity inside the insulated and very shielding cover.  Although these are pricey, a guy of your talents could fashion something similar for a minimum cost.    



I've seen diy versions using plastic milk bottles.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I've seen diy versions using plastic milk bottles. 

Sure.  I had something rigged up like this when I was a bike courier.   I think mine were bleach jugs.  I cut out and glued chunks of wool sweaters inside.  The Vancouver slush was kept at bay and I could bike hard in some of the worst weather with no wind chill.
 
pollinator
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Living in the land of bicycles (the Netherlands), of course I have to react here. My bicycle is my means of transport, I do not even have a drivers license! For longer distances there's train and bus, but the winter weather is no reason for me to take the bus.
In the rainy climate here it's very important to have clothes that keep you dry. I always have my 'rain poncho' with me, because rain showers can suddenly appear. A warm coat becomes cold when wet, with the wind blowing through. Having cold-sensitive ears and throat, I have to wear a (woolen knitted) cap (bonnet, beany) and shawl (scarf) to keep that part of me warm. Layers of warm clothes: singlet, long-sleeve T-shirts: one cotton and one fine wool, and a thick woolen sweater or cardigan, tights under the pants (trousers), warm socks and boots with fur inside, also mittens with fur inside.

When there's snow, the gouvernment cleans roads for the cars, but forgets the bicycle-paths. So then many bicyclists are on the same road as the cars. That's the largest problem of winter here.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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When there's snow, the gouvernment cleans roads for the cars, but forgets the bicycle-paths. So then many bicyclists are on the same road as the cars. That's the largest problem of winter here.

  This is the same here.  In Vancouver, anyway, I remember waiting for weeks for the bike paths to get cleared when the city got a large surprise dump of snow, and they are never properly sanded like the roads for cars.
 
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For the real cold days, I do a base layer, jacket and windjacket up top. Insultated pants and foot covers. Lobster gloves. Balaclava and ski goggles. That served me well down to real cold temperatures (2 F) last week.
 
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