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  1. #1
    Bicycle built for 5 tuolumne's Avatar
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    How fast in the snow?

    In anticipation of winter, how fast can I expect to go in the snow? I need to prepare my family now for those extra hours. Currently I plan for 1 hour each way. How about a quick list...

    normal = 16 mph
    rain = 14 mph
    ice = 0 mph
    cold (no clipless i.e. boots and bulky clothes) = 14 mph
    1"= ??
    4" = ??
    8" = ??
    12" = drive van
    16"+ = stay home

    How about still snowing vs. stopped? Everything but normal and rain is beyond my experience to date. The only troublesome thing to my thinking is if a major snowstorm hits when I'm already at work. I guess I do have a cowork that lives in my town...

    Thanks for the help as always.
    Would rather be at 119.49079W, 37.76618N

  2. #2
    Easily distracted...
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    I can't contribute anything useful to this thread.

    In Atlanta, prediction of snow = stay home.
    Safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation.

  3. #3
    Life is short Ride hard
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    No clue first winter with snow I figure if you fall on your @55 your going to fast sorry I couldn't be helpfull
    The Ferrari ('05 Bianchi Forza) had a flat (Stupid Glass) the Japanese wagon ('77 Nishiki with Arkel Utility Basket) was in the body shop (On my bench being repainted...repent ye rust)
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  4. #4
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Depends on the snow. How thick,how slushy,whether there's icepack under it. Also depends on your tires(width/tread). For a couple inches of falling wet snow,with 2" or so knobbies,I'd say walking pace of 5-7mph. Of course,hills will also factor in to how fast you'll go.

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  5. #5
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    This is a tough one to predict because so many other things come into play in the snow. If you're riding roads then the quality of snow removal may have a big impact on speed. All those roadside ruts and little piles of snow and ice can really slow you down as well as make the ride more nerve wracking. Its even possible that your usual route will be unrideable in snow because of how they plow the road. The type of snow will affect your speed as well -- light powder is less of a problem than heavy wet snow (unless the powder is blowing in a blizzard). Don't be surprised if you also find more winds in wintertime when the trees are bare and this may slow down your ride. And of course after the snow has been down for a while it will be packed hard or even turn to ice, thus affecting your speed even more. I find that snow/ice frozen into ruts is the slowest ride of all because you have to fight for control and it tends to slow you down.

    Totally a guess but I would say that based on your normal and rain speeeds you could plan on somewhere between 12 and 14 mph in snow. I would not be surprised if you find that 12mph is more realistic. Make sure you give your family enough of a window that if you have small wipe-outs or a flat you won't be late. Remember even simple things like fixing a flat will take longer in the snow and cold.

    As for snow starting after you get to work you have to make your best guess and then remain foolishly determined to live with your choice. You have to make your best guess about the accuracy of forecast(s) and decide if you want to ride. Once you make that decision then pack and prepare for it and ride accordingly. Riding in falling snow is a beautiful and wonderful experience as loing as its not a blizzard or fresh snow over rutted ice. Either of those choices makes riding a PITA. It is probably smart to have an "in case of emergency break glass" plan that you rarely if ever use, but you have at least explored your options with co-workers, public transit, etc.

    One final thought, you might find that 8" of snow is more than you really want to ride in -- particularly if you ride unplowed bike trails or side streets.
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  6. #6
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuolumne
    In anticipation of winter, how fast can I expect to go in the snow? I need to prepare my family now for those extra hours. Currently I plan for 1 hour each way. How about a quick list...

    normal = 16 mph
    rain = 14 mph
    ice = 0 mph
    cold (no clipless i.e. boots and bulky clothes) = 14 mph
    1"= ??
    4" = ??
    8" = ??
    12" = drive van
    16"+ = stay home

    How about still snowing vs. stopped? Everything but normal and rain is beyond my experience to date. The only troublesome thing to my thinking is if a major snowstorm hits when I'm already at work. I guess I do have a cowork that lives in my town...

    Thanks for the help as always.
    Around here:
    normal = 30+ km/h
    rain = 30+ km/h
    ice = ~20 km/h [mtn bike, spiked tires]
    cold = irrelevant
    1"= 20 km/h
    4" = 15 km/h
    8" = 10 km/h
    12" = 8 km/h [some biking, some walking]
    16"+ = call in sick and go snowboarding
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  7. #7
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    Speaking from experience, once your front tire begins to "plow" the snow instead of just rolling along on top of it, your level of effort will go up exponentially. I tried to ride in 6 inches one day and it was slow going.

    The type of snow is also a variable in the equation. Really cold fluffy powder is much easier than heavy, wet stuff. The "mashed potato" snow found on many winter streets is a royal pain.

    And yeah, if it's covering ice, you'd better have studs. Never mind trying to ride on frozen ruts. Ugh.

  8. #8
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm a whimp, but if there is snow on the road in the morning I drive to work. Also watch out for black ice...black ice evil.
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  9. #9
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that a 2-wheel vehicle relies on friction between the tires and the road to stay upright. If you lose friction, you will fall over as fast as if someone dropped you. In snow I use studs.

    I find 13mph is hard work, 10mph is a good cruising speed in snow. The deeper the snow, the slower, until about 6" where it's hard to keep enough speed to keep from falling over. There are three factors. First, the studded tires are thick and heavy, and slow me down considerably. Second, the snow offers resistance. Third, even with the studs I don't like to pedal all-out because braking and steering require more distance.

    Cycling in a high-resistance/low friction environment will teach you lots about the physics of balancing a bicycle.
    The United States of America is the only democratic nation in the world to deny citizens living in the nation's capital representation in the national legislature. District residents have no vote in either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. www.dcvote.org

  10. #10
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCCommuter
    Keep in mind that a 2-wheel vehicle relies on friction between the tires and the road to stay upright. If you lose friction, you will fall over as fast as if someone dropped you. In snow I use studs.

    I find 13mph is hard work, 10mph is a good cruising speed in snow. The deeper the snow, the slower, until about 6" where it's hard to keep enough speed to keep from falling over. There are three factors. First, the studded tires are thick and heavy, and slow me down considerably. Second, the snow offers resistance. Third, even with the studs I don't like to pedal all-out because braking and steering require more distance.

    Cycling in a high-resistance/low friction environment will teach you lots about the physics of balancing a bicycle.
    +1 and several falls.
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  11. #11
    Cat None SDRider's Avatar
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    What is this "snow" of which ye speak?

  12. #12
    Designated Drinker Wulfheir's Avatar
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    Last year we got a dump of about 6-8" of snow while I was at work. It was hell and it took a long time, actually had to walk my bike a bit. I don't have nearly as far a commute as you so a combination of pushing and pedalling probably isn't an option.
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  13. #13
    Designated Drinker Wulfheir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe
    16"+ = call in sick and go snowboarding
    Spoken like a true calgarian!
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    Oh, you hate your job? There's a support group for that, it's called EVERYONE and they meet at the PUB!

  14. #14
    Bicycle built for 5 tuolumne's Avatar
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    None of this sounds very optimistic. Then again, there have been days where it took 2 hours to get home by car.
    Would rather be at 119.49079W, 37.76618N

  15. #15
    Banned. ModoVincere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTcommuter
    I can't contribute anything useful to this thread.

    In Atlanta, prediction of snow = stay home.

    Actually, prediction of snow, even just flurries, seems to mean run to the nearest grocery store and buy as much milk, bread, and other junk foods as possible. Then tie up the interstates for hours before going home

  16. #16
    Breezin' everyday in NC crtclb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ModoVincere
    Actually, prediction of snow, even just flurries, seems to mean run to the nearest grocery store and buy as much milk, bread, and other junk foods as possible. Then tie up the interstates for hours before going home
    Heh heh. Spoken like a true denizen of the South! When I moved down here from the midwest I was amazed that each "snow event" got its own theme music on our local news!

    Here it's milk, eggs, and bread... I wonder if folks are making a lot of French toast! I usually stay in when it snows here as the native drivers are so bad they scare the holy bejeezus outta me!

  17. #17
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Lots of variables. Having said that, I've found that when the muck coats the roads nicely it's wise to double the amount of time reqired. Some for travel, some to deal with the mess upon arrival.
    Mike
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    Just a guess, from my experience:

    normal = 16 mph
    rain = 14 mph
    ice = 14 mph (Just put the studs on in Dec, take 'em off in March)
    cold (no clipless i.e. boots and bulky clothes) = 14 mph
    1"= 14 mph (tires cut right through to pavement)
    4" = 10 mph (there will be some draggy spots, also a need to slow on downhills and corners)
    8" = 5 mph. (you can ride in the plowed sections, but will walk in the 8" unplowed ones)
    12" = stay home (don't drive the van! If it is too deep to cycle in, driving will be even worse, unless you have chains.)
    16"+ = stay home

    This assumes average conditions, roads at least partially plowed. If the snow is heavy and wet, 4" may be really hard.

    I find that I can get up the hill on my bike in conditions when I cannot do it in my car. With the bike, I am worry-free in the winter, knowing that I can always get home.

    Paul

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    Answering your other question -- winter weather slows my commute by a few minutes on my bike. It can slow me by an hour or more in my car. I would suspect your commute times will be more consistant by bike. Once a few people get stuck, the roads here go into gridlock.

    Paul

  20. #20
    *****es love tarck kemmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    Answering your other question -- winter weather slows my commute by a few minutes on my bike. It can slow me by an hour or more in my car. I would suspect your commute times will be more consistant by bike. Once a few people get stuck, the roads here go into gridlock.

    Paul
    +1

    I drove today because I was really late getting up. Driving saves me about 20 mins on a normal day and I had a meeting this morning that I wanted to be ready for. We'll, it was really rainy and aparently someone decided this was reason enough to get in a wreck on the freeway. As it turns out, driving cost me a few extra minutes today instead of saving me 20.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuolumne
    In anticipation of winter, how fast can I expect to go in the snow? I need to prepare my family now for those extra hours. Currently I plan for 1 hour each way. How about a quick list...

    normal = 16 mph
    rain = 14 mph
    ice = 0 mph
    cold (no clipless i.e. boots and bulky clothes) = 14 mph
    1"= ??
    4" = ??
    8" = ??
    12" = drive van
    16"+ = stay home

    How about still snowing vs. stopped? Everything but normal and rain is beyond my experience to date. The only troublesome thing to my thinking is if a major snowstorm hits when I'm already at work. I guess I do have a cowork that lives in my town...

    Thanks for the help as always.
    I don't know out your local conditions but I very seldom see 4" on the road and only once have I driven through 8". I've only seen 12" in drifts on the street. This is in an area where we get over 100" in an average winter. Maybe your local doesn't plow as often.
    1" with studded 700c tires means no slowdown or very little
    4" is going to be about half speed, slower if it all messed up by cars faster if its fresh powder.
    8" on the roads and it is one h*** of a blizard to get that far ahead of the plows, I'm staying home.

    Craig

  22. #22
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    At about 5.5 inches on most mountain bikes your pedals will be going into the snow, one can keep riding in deeper snow but it gets to be the same speed as walking. Even before that is first gear riding most of the way. With the right studded tires riding the ice is much faster, because it's almost like riding on pavement.

    It's typically easier to plow through the snow at about 25 degrees. The snow is lighter and fluffier. That's about the best temperature for riding in new snow.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  23. #23
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuolumne
    In anticipation of winter, how fast can I expect to go in the snow? I need to prepare my family now for those extra hours. Currently I plan for 1 hour each way. How about a quick list...

    normal = 16 mph
    rain = 14 mph
    ice = 0 mph
    cold (no clipless i.e. boots and bulky clothes) = 14 mph
    1"= ??
    4" = ??
    8" = ??
    12" = drive van
    16"+ = stay home

    How about still snowing vs. stopped? Everything but normal and rain is beyond my experience to date. The only troublesome thing to my thinking is if a major snowstorm hits when I'm already at work. I guess I do have a cowork that lives in my town...

    Thanks for the help as always.

    Ice and snow depend on the boots on your bike, for example skinny road tires at high pressures are going to be slip sliddin' away (just read what I wrote - anyone else hear Paul Simon singin' it. However you can always switch to tires with a more agressive tread, like these although for commuting you might find these a little better. I picked Nokian because I have it bookmarked, other companies make similar tires, Schwalbe for example.

    One thing to note, studded tires may not be road legal everywhere

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