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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 08-05-08, 07:46 PM   #26
scoatw
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My first winter of commuting. It went pretty much as I expected. I think that I prepared for it properly. The gear that I bought worked to a charm. I didn’t have any problems with staying warm. The Showers Pass rainjacket worked flawlessly. Not only did it keep me dry when I needed it too. It made for an excellent windblocker. The Sporthill Jacket that I used as a baselayer kept me warm down to about 15f. Anything lower than that then I just added the fleece vest that I had. When the temps got below 10f I would wear the snowpants, which kept me warm. For next year I’d like to get one or two more riding pants Maybe another 3SP XC Pants. And try the Windshear pants from Cabelas. As for the snow tires. The Schwalbes were junk. They didn’t perform like I thought they would. I picked up a Nokian M&G 160 and put it up front. It did much better on the hardpack and ice. I also got a Nokian 294 but I didn’t get to use it. But I have it for next winter. The Snow Studs are harder to ride on because they have an increased rolling resistance. But that’s OK. They give me peace of mind. The LL Bean Snow sneakers were just the thing for my feet in cold weather. They fit real nice in my toeclips. The toes got a little cold due to the mesh-type material on the boot. But I added toe warmers and that solved that problem. When temps got below 25f I would wear Wool hiking socks which kept my feet comfortable. The MANZELLA mittens and WICKERS balaclava worked great in subfreezing temps. I added a Performance Fleece Hat for below freezing temps. The Visorgogs worked OK. I did have problems with them fogging up, particularly when the temps were below 25f. I think it was due to a lack of venting, which I plan to remedy by drilling small vent holes on the sides and enlarge the ones they already have on top. Being all bundled up with the right gear kept me nice and comfortable in the really cold weather. It didn’t bother me at all and made riding just as enjoyable as riding in warm weather. I rode in three Ice Storms and two near- Blizzards. The Friday blizzard wasn’t really a blizzard, but we did get 5” that day and the roads were difficult in spots. The Saturday blizzard, well that was a whole different story. The Ice storms made me realize how important the studs were. Without them, it would’ve made riding in traffic very dangerous. As if it weren’t hazardous enough.
So perhaps there are some folks out there considering riding next winter. Do lots of research. I read cycling blogs from people in Canada and Alaska, Bike Forums.net and Icebike.org to get as much advice as I can. Now is the time to start looking for deals on Winter clothing. It doesn't take that much. Last year I started to accumulate stuff in Sept and October. If you see something that you like. Then do a google search and try to find the best price. I saved alot of money doing this. I just wish I'd have done all of this about 15 yrs ago. Winter riding was fun, especially when I'd ride past the gas station
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Old 08-05-08, 09:27 PM   #27
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B@stards. I don't even want to think about winter when it's still summer. Thou shalt not mention winter until at least the day after Labor Day. MAN LAW!
Amen to that brother.
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Old 08-05-08, 09:37 PM   #28
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Seeing lows in the upper 20's-lower 30's around my area. NEVER above 50 for a low.

Early in the thread there was talk about fogging glasses. I fortunately don't have to wear prescription glasses so I move away from a glasses mounted mirror in the summer to helmet mount in the winter.

Bottom line for cold weather commuting for me, keep your fingers and toes warm and you can ride forever.
The ears too of course but they're easy to take care of.

Check around the winter forum and get back to us in another couple months.
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Old 08-05-08, 10:28 PM   #29
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Extreme cold for me is below 0F.

Gortex winter hiking boots. Cotton socks.
Snowboard board pants or these cool Cannondale lined biking pants (I have not found another pair).
Bike shirt, flease, shell.
Balaclava.
Ski goggles.
Ski gloves.
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Old 08-05-08, 10:38 PM   #30
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I think you can get the gear figured out pretty easily. As mentioned, between the winter forum and icebike there is way more info than you'll ever need there.

My biggest concern would be the 3am part. Sounds live you live in a part of the country where the winters aren't completely insane. But still, being stranded at 3:30 am with a broken bike and no one to call can be down right dangerous. I would suggest you carry and extra layer, warm hat, chemical hand warmers, flashlight, phone, emergency stuff. Break downs when it's cold and dark are a LOT harder to deal with. Keep your gear maintained and it's best to be a bit over prepared in the winter.

I commend you for doing it.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:32 AM   #31
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Now my question is.. How big a difference is there between studded tires and regular mountain bike tires?
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Old 08-06-08, 05:19 AM   #32
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For fogging glasses you could try one of these, http://www.ruoutside.com/fog-evader-clava.html
I got one and there is a little piece of metal that you pinchover your nose and your breath is directed downward and my glasses stayed clear the whole winter last year!
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Old 08-06-08, 06:07 AM   #33
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Check the Winter Cycling forum at this site. Lots of good information there.

I live in an area (NC) with a moderate climate, so winter is no big deal. What I dread are the 100+ days we sometimes get this time of year. My typical morning commutes in winter (Jan-Feb) are in temperatures ranging from 15 to 35F. That is very easy to dress for, but you do have to spend some money on clothes. Layering is the best way to keep warm, and has the added advantage of allowing you to shed layers as it warms up. Hands and feet are usually the soft spot -- invest in some good gloves, probably at least two pairs for varying temperatures and conditions, as well as some toe and shoe covers and wool socks.

Fogging is a real pain, and a problem I have not yet solved. I did buy some new Transition lens eyeware last winter, so I only need one pair of glasses for riding in the dark and light. You need glasses with good eye coverage in winter or your eyes will tear up on every downhill. There are various sprays you can put on lenses to prevent fogging, but I haven't tried any of them yet. That will be my big project for next winter as I'm pretty well covered with regard to the rest of my gear.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:12 AM   #34
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I actually prefer riding in cold weather, although I can do without ice and snow. When it's cold enough, I don't have to shower or even change clothes.
I'm the same about commuting in the winter! Add to Neil's issues of ice and snow (we get less here in the south, nj ) is the wind.

Get the right clothing on and in about 5 to 10 minutes, internal temp gets toasty. At that point you can do more to let steam out, adjust unlike summer where all you can do about the heat is sweat, drink lots of h2o, and slow down.

I do like the changes in seasons, ride year round (prefer to road bike), and appreciate the contrasts!
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Old 08-06-08, 08:09 AM   #35
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Now my question is.. How big a difference is there between studded tires and regular mountain bike tires?
Big enough that you want studs if you're riding in any kind of snow or ice.
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Old 08-06-08, 08:51 AM   #36
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I can't even bring myself to offer winter biking advice in August . Look for my reply in November . The summer in Maine is short enuf.
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Old 08-06-08, 08:58 AM   #37
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woohoo seeing this post means its nearly summer
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Old 08-06-08, 09:06 AM   #38
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I haven't winter biked (might this year tho) but I ski a lot. If you have to wear glasses to see properly your eye doc can direct you to some prescription goggles. One way I've found to prevent fogging is wearing a higher cut balaclava with a nose vent and moisture cuts for your mouth - this at least works for me skiing in sunglasses.
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Old 08-06-08, 10:00 AM   #39
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I only have 1 tip:

Plan for being out in the snow for an hour or so on foot. You may be layered plenty for RIDING in the winter, but get a flat or suffer a mechanical problem and you can get real cold, real fast standing or walking around.

I know, it is extra weight/ bulk to bring the extra clothing you would want if you were walking, or waiting for a ride at a bus stop or something, but it is worth it rather than freezing in the snow fixing a flat, or waiting for a bus.
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Old 08-06-08, 10:50 AM   #40
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Now my question is.. How big a difference is there between studded tires and regular mountain bike tires?
I personally don't think studded tires are worth it. I use ordinary ol' inverts in the snow and haven't ever had a problem that wouldn't have occurred with studs. You might be able to go a little bit faster on studded tires on the ice, but the weather here in CO is so bipolar that the benefits of studded tires are pretty much outweighed by cost and additional rolling resistance. I might buy them if I lived someplace icy.
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Old 08-06-08, 11:58 AM   #41
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This thread is making me wish it was winter. Oh well, another three months or so and it will be Fall, at least.
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Old 08-06-08, 12:02 PM   #42
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I like winter but it gets old in a hurry.

This year I intend to pick up a set of studded tires, a LG full face mask to replace the Performance one I hated, and have another go at trying to keep my feet warm in spd shoes.
I love riding in snow.
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Old 08-06-08, 12:32 PM   #43
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I wear snowboarding gloves (like from Marshalls or TJ Maxx---- cheap, name brand) and neoprene shoe covers over my mtn biking shoes--- recommend buying larger shoes and wearing wool ski socks. My feet are never cold--- unless they get too hot and start to sweat.

Nokian Extreme studded tires are safer than walking. I could bike across a skating rink on them.

Despite what another poster said--- do not wear anything cotton--- anywhere.

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How cold is extreme cold for you? In the winter in Boston, temps are usually around 20-30 in the mornings, with teens and single digits not uncommon. I've found that layering works brilliantly, and I actually have to keep myself from overdressing. I'll be chilly the first five minutes or so, but after that my body starts generating some serious heat.

The biggest problems I have when it's really really cold, like ten degrees or less, are with my hands and feet. I find it difficult to keep them warm, and I think it's a battle I won't ever win. I layer up on the gloves too, which helps. I use a thin liner inside some badass mountaineering gloves. They were expensive, but I think they are worth it. My hands still get cold, but I deal.

Feet are tricky too. All I've ever done is wear multiple pairs of socks. Doesn't work that great in extreme cold, but it's better than nothing.

But that's just my experience.
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Old 08-06-08, 12:44 PM   #44
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+1 Cotton is the devil! Wool and synthetics. Wool Wool woooooolllll!
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Old 08-06-08, 01:32 PM   #45
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B@stards. I don't even want to think about winter when it's still summer. Thou shalt not mention winter until at least NOVEMBER. MAN LAW!
+++++ [INFINITY]

It is sooo nice to ride in short sleeves.
I do not miss lobster claw gloves and stinky balacava.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:44 PM   #46
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Now my question is.. How big a difference is there between studded tires and regular mountain bike tires?
About 5-10 MPH depending upon what tires you are rinding on dry pavement.

There is snow and ice on the roads here 5 months out of the year. Studs are pretty much required.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:44 PM   #47
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The problem I have had with prescription eyeglasses and goggles is to provide enough windscreen protection over the eyeglasses with adequate ventilation so the moisture you exhale doesn't fog up the goggles and the eyeglasses. If they frost up, then itís a really bad situation. An inescapable condition occurs when you're going uphill, or stopped and you are breathing hard yet moving slowly with less airflow to carry away the extra moisture.

I find that ski goggles are not up to cycling's demands due to insufficient ventilation, even with lens coatings. Also, one needs clear lenses since the early mornings and evenings are usually dark, yet most ski goggles are tinted. I wear an eyeglass rearview mirror, and it has to be mounted securely on the goggles, and still remain in my field of peripheral vision, but ski goggles have an elastic headband.

After years of experimenting, I have, IMO, a satisfactory solution as illustrated in the photos.
I wear a simple pair of clear safety glasses as you might buy at Home Depot. They are roomy enough to accommodate my eyeglasses. Because I wear a balaclava and a woolen cap under my helmet, along with the earpieces of the safety glasses and eyeglasses inside the helmet straps, my eyeglasses are pushed down uncomfortably onto my nose.

So I have sewn a strip of Velcro on my woolen cap, extending beyond the edge, and wrapped a piece of Velcro around the bridge of the safety glasses. After I have my balaclava, hat and helmet on and fastened, I insert the earpieces of the safety glasses beneath the helmet straps and attach the nosepiece with Velcro to the Velcro extending from beyond my cap and arrange it so the safety glasses are suspended from my cap and they donít have to rest on my nose. Finally I attach the rearview eyeglass mirror securely on the rigid earpiece of the safety glasses.

Even though the safety glasses are widely open on the sides, I find the windscreen to be sufficient and the ventilation excellent, and my eyeglasses sit comfortably on my nose. My usual winter riding conditions are about 14 miles in the teens to 20ís Fahrenheit.

BTW, my other great problem is my feet, and I think the best solution is thick and thin layers of wool socks, leather bicycling shoes, and neoprene cycling overshoes.
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Old 08-06-08, 05:53 PM   #48
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I prefer a good thick beard to wearing a balaclava. Works down to -17 C (0 F), which is about as cold as it ever gets where I live. I wear a headband to cover my ears. My glasses tend to frost if I wear the balaclava.

Really, it gets cold gradually enough that you'll figure out what to wear (and what not to wear) at various temperatures reasonably quickly.
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