help me help my bro-in-law start commuting
He's very interested, but has some legitimate concerns.
He lives in a mountain town that pretty much has snow constantly on the ground for several months. He's got an old mtb that we're going to work on.
He'll be commuting six miles almost exclusively on a MUP, so that's cool.
I commute in nice weather almost exclusively, so I'm not sure what to advise him on. Are knobbies enough or should we invest in studded? Any advice on clothing, like balclava, gloves and such? Should I just tell him to dress like he's going skiing? (I think he might be too hot) Other advice or comments?
It would really be better if he got started when it's not extremely cold and snowing. Wear what he'd wear while running, do some riding, see if everything else clicks about the commute...then consider extending it into the snow season.
Also...maybe it's different where he is, but around here MUPs really don't get plowed, ever. Something to think about.
Pedaled too far.
You might want to check with the Winter Riding folks too. Better yet, get him on this forum. Each time he asks a question, he's convincing himself.
Originally Posted by RadioFlyer
I'd probably rather ride over snow than snow + thaw/freeze/thaw/freeze = black ice. I haven't had the pleasure of using studded tires yet but I hear the people who live in snowy (not icy) areas really love them.
Originally Posted by RadioFlyer
I rode a bit last winter. I didn't have a balaclava and wished I did. I plan on riding a lot more this winter so I've already got one (fat lot of good it's doing me now since summer just...won't...die!). Last year I only had a thinner pair of gloves, but I've gotten some thicker ones now for the coldest days.
In general, for any outdoor activity in winter you want an underlayer that wicks away moisture so as to avoid hypothermia, a windproof outer layer, and possibly some stuff in between if it's cold enough to warrant it.
The MUP where I live gets zero attention in the winter. Usually its full of snow that's thawed partially and then froze again. It's a minefield of frozen boot prints in random positions.
I'd use the biggest tires I could fit on the bike and run them at low pressure. Not sure if this is any better than studded tires. Maybe it would be worth it for him to have a second bike with studded tires.
If it were me, I'd maybe put studded tires on the existing MTB for the day after the ice storm, and buy a Surly Puglsley for big tires that float over the snow or rough refrozen boot tracks. Pugsley's are kind of expensive, but if it is the only commute method, you can justify it.
ride for a change
The biggest question is the plowing or lack of plowing on the MUP. Studs perform amazingly well on hardpack, and ice, but they don't help as much as you'd think in deep snow. I suppose either way studded tires are probably a worthy purchase for traction.
On the other hand the added drag of the studs, lower tire pressure, and additional weight makes pedaling more difficult. The combination of that could be very de-moralizing to a beginner. Get him to start soon before the snow flies. Starting in the winter in a snowy climate is really a lot to ask.
There is a plethora of winter cycling advice on the threads here, search and review. All your questions will be answered over and over complete with links, and tons of opinions.
icebike.com has lots of advice from people who ride through very cold, snowy winters.
Most winter commuters find that non-cycle outdoor clothing is often more suitable. Im sure your bro knows the principles of layering and dressing for activity so just experiment with what he currently has. You can reduce your heat generation by going a bit more slowly, this also reduces your cooldown time . Going really fast will only remove a minute or 2 from a 6-mile commute.
There are some recipies for home-brew studded tyres which are a good way to see if you really need them.
One important factor is to carry enough spare clothing to do a roadside repair.