Winter Cycling - Newbie...
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I am a strange person who waited until December to decide she really wants to start biking regularly. I hope to begin commuting to work in the spring (when it doesn't get dark so early), but in the meantime, I would like to start biking during my lunch break.
Can anyone offer any advice on the bare minimum of things I should buy? I live near Baltimore, so it shouldn't get too cold this winter (not too far below freezing, usually). I have a beater road bike and am not willing to spend too much money on biking until I know I will stick with it.
Am I insane for trying this now? Should I just stick with indoor aerobics until the spring?
12-17-01, 10:28 AM
And people called me odd starting at the end of september :D
Welcome to the forums :).
With regards to minimum equipment I'd have a look at some of the old threads in the commuting forum.
A pump, spare tube and tyre levers spring to mind, and either a few basic tools or a simple multi-tool. Lights if you do any cycling around dusk/dawn or darker, a helmet and bright/reflective clothes are essentials.
Richard (who currently cheats - cycling 14 miles in to work and catching the train home)
12-17-01, 10:34 AM
Winter is a great time for cycling. There are many recreational snow activities, so why shouldn't cycling be one of them?
The most important thing with winter riding is to stay dry and warm. Synthetic fibers are excellent for this time of year. You say you will not be in temps much below freezing, so I imagine you could get away with a wicking (cool-max) t-shirt, fleece pullover and wind-proof outer layer (when very cold). You will find that when cycling in the winter, you are more than likely to be hot rather than cold. A good rule of thumb is if you start off your ride comfortable, you will probably end it hot and sweaty.
Don't forget the hat and gloves. Any gloves will work, as long as they keep you warm. And assuming you wear a helmet, there are many skull cap style winter hats/face masks that fit nicely under the helmet.
I hope this answers some of your questions. :)
12-17-01, 12:33 PM
Welcome aboard Teresa!
You don't mention where you live, but this would apply anywhere (some places more than others though). Winter is a good time to be extra meticulous about bike maintainance. Water is more likely to seep into bearings, and road salt can eat away a frame before the season is over. It's not hard to keep things ship=-shape. If you clean your frame after each ride and wipe of any salt or grime, it should be alright. Pay attention to lube too, especially on the drive train. This is not terribly time consuming - five minutes after a ride should be enough - but it will help keep you rolling all winter.
Bicycling Magazine had a half decent article on "Winterizing Your Bike" a year or two ago, and I thought I could give you some of their tips, but I can't find it. I'll keep looking.
In the meantime, icebike.com has some info on winterizing. It's probably better than the mag info anyway:
Good luck, and stay warm!
Teresa, welcome to BF.
I sometimes ride during lunch so here's what I'd recommend:
Basic tools (like a Topeak Alien multi-tool), spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump, water, helmet, mirror (either on your helmet, glasses, or handlebar), clothing that is appropriate for the weather, glasses (clear for dark/overcast days, yellow for cloudy days, dark for sunny days), gloves, and whatever shoes you normally wear (depends on the type of pedals).
You might also consider a basic cyclocomputer to keep track of your mileage.
You might also want to carry a cell phone, in case you have problems and will be late getting back to work, or to call for help.
In other words, take everything you think you would need if you were out for an afternoon ride. You never know what will happen.
Dress for the weather as you would for any other outdoor sport. You will get warm so dress in layers.
Your LBS (local bike shop) can help you with all of these items and winterizing your bike as Lightboy suggested.
Good luck. Keep us informed of your progress.
Yes, welcome to BF.C, Teresa.
Winter is just as good a time to bicycle as any other season Ė better than the rainy season in my opinion.
Look, with all due respects to my friends who already posted, let me suggest you forget about buying and hauling all those tools for your winter riding.
Instead, get a good bike lock, a cell phone, and the telephone number of a friend who will come and pick you up if things go bad for you. You donít want to be working on a freezing cold bike outside in the wintertime. In less than 10 minutes, your hands will be so cold, you canít hold on to a tool. Still not comfortable with that suggestion? OK, bring a thermos of cocoa, a cell phone, and a friendís number.
Anyway, you said that you are just starting to bike, so I assume you arenít a bike mechanic. Tools and knowledge are two different things, but you need both to fix a bike.
As for clothing, you can dress as you would for being outside, but have a layer of wind-breaking clothing. Biking is windy. The wind will cut right through 2Ē pile of wool knit. The trick is to get breathable wind breaking clothing. Airtight clothes will leave you wringing wet even with minimal physical excursion.
Of course, you will need gloves or mittens.
Get a balaklava hat. You can stuff it in your pocket when you donít need it. IF it does get cold and windy, though, it can cover your face and really save you from some punishing cold.
Ride on, Teresa. Glad to have you on board.
I have spoken with another co-worker who rides during lunch, and he gave much of the same advice that you guys did. I now have a place to stash my bike inside, and plan to go looking for some of the clothing I will need in the next few days (right before Christmas, how intelligent!).
For the record, I can change a tire, and am taking a bike maintenance class in January (assuming they don't cancel it again). In the meantime, I won't be riding too far out or away from houses or offices.
Thanks again for all your support! I hope to start biking next week after I get back in the office after Christmas. Assuming the weather on the East Coast doesn't decide to dump a bunch of snow on us.
12-19-01, 11:14 AM
Have a look at icebike.com, home of the winter cyclist.
The advice above is right on. Synthetics, windproofs, gloves and hat. The biggest problem is shoes. Most sports shoes are loaded with "cooling" features. You need some without mesh panels, and if neccessary water-resistant.
You can never be bright enough, and on dull days, use lights.
Use wider tyres than you would in summer, and if the road is wet, fenders make riding much more pleasant.
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