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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-26-07, 04:05 PM   #1
samsmeg
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Sorts of weather you people deal with

This Monday my mum thought I was crazy to bike to school with rain, 24mph wind and higher speed 60mph gusts, but I was to determined to get out their and do it to somehow prove to myself that it doesn't matter about weather. I found my feet soaked all the way through after putting plastic bags over my socks (I had no other alternatives) but was pleased that I got there on time. I don't even have to bike to school but I like the exercise and experiance of the outside! What have you guys been out in? Just interested

p.s let me know on tips for dry feet!

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Old 09-26-07, 04:54 PM   #2
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I am in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We have different weather than you, for the most part. Our climate is typically described as continental, but our proximity to the Rocky Mountains [less than 100 km due West] changes things. Summer highs can peak at 40C, and winter lows at -40C. Humidity is low, usually around 40-50% in the summer, and occasionally dropping below 10% in the winter. It's semi-arid, with not much precipitation. Due to the mountains, there is typically a north or west wind that picks up around noon and settles down again after sunset. In the winter, we get Chinooks, which are high-pressure ridges moving West to East, followed by very warm low-pressure system[s]. I've seen weeks where it's -20C on Monday morning and +20C on Tuesday afternoon, although the difference is usually only 20 degrees or so.

For dry feet, get waterproof footwear, and/or top-notch fenders for your bicycle.
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Old 09-26-07, 04:59 PM   #3
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My weather is pretty mild. We have some hot summers (104F/40C is not uncommon for the ride home) and a fair bit of rain in the winter and spring. The most dangerous weather for me is probably the tule fog, which is common in Dec-Feb. Visibility can be next to zero.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:06 PM   #4
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60mph gusts sound awfully strong. If a crosswind gust hit you that hard, it seems like it might be impossible to stay upright. Riding at street level with buildings and possibly trees around might give a somewhat more manageable experience though.

I know that sometimes I find it fun to just go out there and challenge the weather, just because I can.

Today in Philadelphia, however, the weather was pretty darn un-challenging. I saw a few people who looked like new bike-commuters, struggling uphill in a gear suited for downhills. The cyclists were out on the roads in force with the sunny weather and 75 F temperatures. There was a light breeze, perhaps 5mph at street level.

Worst I've ridden in would have to be the ultra-cold days in Montreal with wind or with tons of snow on the ground. If I had been smart I would have taken my fenders off because all they did was get jammed up with snow.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:10 PM   #5
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As for dry feet, it's difficult. In warm enough weather, I'd say by far the best option is to wear sandals while riding. If it's too cold for that, knee-high rubber boots seem to work OK as long as you have fenders.

Plastic bags over your socks, in your shoes, is a pretty good method... but with the kind of weather you just rode in there may be almost nothing you can do to stay dry. Completely non-breathable stuff is often the most effective, except for the fact that if you are physically active you can get drenched in sweat.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:20 PM   #6
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Consistently dry and between 70-80 degrees. I know for some this sounds great, but I miss Seattle rain. I think I'm one of the few Los Angelenos that went riding last saturday's rain storm.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:21 PM   #7
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I commute 20+ miles daily year 'round.
Or weather here in the Chicago area ranges from the high 90's (F) with matching humidity to -20 (F) or so with lake effect snow and mighty winds.
But I'm no "big bad bicycle guy", I'm just a little off in the head and enjoy the torture.

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Old 09-26-07, 05:34 PM   #8
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Worst I've ridden in would have to be the ultra-cold days in Montreal with wind or with tons of snow on the ground. If I had been smart I would have taken my fenders off because all they did was get jammed up with snow.
If you set your fenders up with it close at the rear of the wheel and a progressively widening gap as it gets towards the front of the wheel you can avoid this problem a lot of the time.
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Old 09-26-07, 06:00 PM   #9
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3C-50C. Mostly clear and very sunny (>300days/yr) to light showers thru powerful thunderstorms. Have had flash floods with over 8" of water on roads. Most unique are dust storms with near zero visibility and blowing dust & debris, gusts to 60mph.


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Old 09-26-07, 06:02 PM   #10
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My parents think I'm going to die on my tiny 3.75 mile commute to school during the winters. I'm going to convince them that biking is a perfectly safe alternative to driving such short distances, regardless the weather.

Oh, I wrap my feet in plastic wrap if it is REALLY raining.
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Old 09-26-07, 06:16 PM   #11
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last year, I rode to work during the Valentine's Day Ice Storm. Wasn't particularly cold, which was part of the problem. Precipitation kept on going from snow to slush to freezing rain and back again. My commute is 14 miles one-way, and about half way through, I had to take my riding glasses off because the slush just kept on accumulating on the lenses. Then, a few miles later, I realized that my right eye was starting to accumulate freezing slush as well. Only problem was that this was on a mile long downhill, descending towards a cloverleaf with merging highway traffic, so I wasn't really interested in taking my hands off to wipe my face

speaking of motherly concern, on my way home that evening, my cell phone rang and it was my mom.

she asked: "where are you?"
"still at work. about to leave actually."
"... are you on that bicycle of yours?"
"do you want me to tell you what you want to hear, mom? Or do you want me to tell you the truth?"

Since it was Valentine's Day, I stopped by a local organic farm stand to pick up some long-stemmed roses for my sweetie. The flowers wouldn't fit in my panniers, so I stuck them in between my seat-stays, wedged between my seat-tube and rear fender (ha! another reason to have fenders!)

I stopped at a red light about five miles from home and a trio of high school girls looked me up and down as they waited for the bus. One of them said,

"Mister, you're the sweetest crazy man, I've ever seen."
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Old 09-26-07, 06:35 PM   #12
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Much of the rain here is thunderstorms and I won't willingly ride with lightning. I did get caught in one storm on the way home a couple of weeks back. I left work with the sun in between storms thinking I could beat the next wave. It hit about a quarter of the way home when I was still on the 4 lane 55mph highway portion of my commute. I didn't mind getting soaked but the 30 plus mph gusts and intermitant lightning made it a little too hairy for me.

Fortunately, I do have the option to take the metro train and avoid the highway altogether if the weather is bad like that (if I am smart enough not to think I can beat the next wave of storms). It transplants me half way home and I can follow the MUP to my neighborhood.

As far as getting just wet, I don't mind that at all as I change clothes and shoes at work anyway and can hang my stuff to dry for the ride home.
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Old 09-26-07, 06:52 PM   #13
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I'm not extremely hardcore. I won't ride in lightning storms. Rain is fine. My solution is to wear Shimano sandals and no socks. In winter, I won't ride if it's colder than 10 degrees F, more than 3 inches of fresh snow, or if the roads are glaze ice all over. Other than that, I ride all winter here in Minnesota. No biggie.

I have been caught in surprise thunderstorms. That's the most exciting times.
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Old 09-26-07, 06:57 PM   #14
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I've ridden in everything but hail, tornadoes, ice storms, and hurricanes.

I do not mind rain but snow and ice irritate me. I tend to go to the gym instead.
Shortly I will be purchasing a trainer. Exciting.... *snore* I guess it is better than not riding at all.
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Old 09-26-07, 07:41 PM   #15
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on long distance tours- when I've really had no choice- it was either sit in a tent all day during a raging storm or ride through some part of it. I've usually ridden during the least intense part of it, often to get to some more substantial shelter- like a library for the day.

High winds can be dangerous (+35mph) not only because you could be blown into the path of an oncoming vehicle but because of flying debris, falling branches, trees and power lines. So I avoid riding in high winds whenever possible.

That said I've ridden home from work in blizzard conditions and hard rains with some lightning- but I'm not crazy about lightning so I usually try to take shelter until most of the lightning is gone.

Basically if I'd walk for 10 minutes in whatever weather conditions I am in I will ride in it.
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Old 09-26-07, 07:47 PM   #16
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Supposed to get T-Storms tomorrow. Now I'm not sure if I'm gunna ride. Pisses me off.
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Old 09-26-07, 08:08 PM   #17
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Supposed to get T-Storms tomorrow. Now I'm not sure if I'm gunna ride. Pisses me off.

I'm in MA, too. Storms are forecast for around sunset tomorrow. No problem for the ride in and just wait it out if they come as you're heading home. If the storm lasts a while get to a bar and watch the Sox pound Minnesota starting at 7pm. Then ride home nice and slow.

edit: oops I think the game's in Boston tomorrow- in which case- rain delay....

Last edited by buzzman; 09-26-07 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 09-26-07, 08:34 PM   #18
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A few years ago I was riding home on a very cold day, I lived in Vermont at the time, when a guy in a car pulled up next to me and told me that it was too cold to be riding a bicycle. I told him that it was too cold for him to have his window open.

We both laughed, but I did appreciate the concern because you can get in trouble pretty fast when you are riding in a rural area without proper clothing during extremely cold weather. I dressed in layers and wore good gloves, socks, and a mask because I had been riding in cold weather for a while. I would avoid riding in places that are not well traveled in case of a crash in those conditions, you might freeze before someone comes to help.
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Old 09-26-07, 08:35 PM   #19
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I'm in MA, too. Storms are forecast for around sunset tomorrow. No problem for the ride in and just wait it out if they come as you're heading home. If the storm lasts a while get to a bar and watch the Sox pound Minnesota starting at 7pm. Then ride home nice and slow.

edit: oops I think the game's in Boston tomorrow- in which case- rain delay....
everything sounded cool up until the sox part. I was born & raised in the land of the EVIL EMPIRE.
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Old 09-26-07, 08:43 PM   #20
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I'll ride through almost anything; I draw the line at large hail, once the chunks are a little bigger than pea sized I head for cover. One of my most surreal experiences was riding through a dark green thunderstorm with the city's Tornado sirens going off all around; actually the weather itself was quite mild, almost no wind or lightning, just rain, less than pea sized hail, and of course the scary green clouds.

By far my worst experience was biking through a crusty six inch snow; the top crust was almost strong enough to hold me (which would have been AWESOME) but after 1.5 pedal strokes I'd fall through and come to a stop. My 40 min 7.5 mi commute took over two hours. I should have just quit and found a way out to a road from the MUP but my mom raised a stubborn dumbass.

As for wind, there have been some windy days when I was pretty depressed by the ride, but I still beat the two hour time of the crusty snow from hell day.
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Old 09-26-07, 09:03 PM   #21
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Until this summer, the worst weather I have ridden in was thunderstorms with lightning popping all over the place. That was scary, riding this summer in 100+ heat with high humidity was just as bad in its own way. I was afraid I would have a heat stroke.

I've been backpacking in pretty scary weather. It's amazing how quickly you can get hypothermia when cold and wet and windy. You pretty easily can lose all the strength in your hands and the ability to grip things.
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Old 09-27-07, 08:28 PM   #22
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everything sounded cool up until the sox part. I was born & raised in the land of the EVIL EMPIRE.
ha, ha! well, the Sox lost and the Yankees won so you must be happy. Hopefully, you didn't let the weather forecast keep you from riding- I dragged in my rain gear all for naught. If you got your ride in and your team won that's a pretty good day in my book.

I'm only batting one out of two for the day.
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Old 09-28-07, 04:26 PM   #23
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Haven't checked out the threaded since I started it! Thanks for all your serious and occasionally humorous notings, was cool to read and find out what other people are out in. Not many people around my area cycle to work/school except for a friend and the people in the nearest town, quite sad really! Thanks again
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Old 09-29-07, 06:36 AM   #24
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Sandals in summer. Just take a pair of socks and shoes with you in your bag. I have my shoes at work, so it is just the socks. What I don't like is the switch - too cold for sandals and not cold enough for snow. Snow and slush aren't a problem until it gets too deep, but icy rain is no fun to ride through. I've had to pull over into a bus shelter to try and warm my legs up because they were burning from the cold. I love it when it finally snows.
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