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Old 12-22-12, 07:09 PM   #1
dcr
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Winter Biking is a skill.

I've tested my new commuter bike (with its new studs) in a variety of conditions--blizzard helped--and I now know winter biking is tricky! There are numerous variables at play--slush, snow, and ice-- with every ride and conditions change as temp drops. Add cars, trucks,and buses to this stew and this is challenging scheise. I walked some sections of my ride just to be safe.

But when the bike trail is packed or its just icy and those studs dig in, I love it! I've always taken biking for granted, but this is different. This requires a new skill set.
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Old 12-22-12, 07:23 PM   #2
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I've tested my new commuter bike (with its new studs) in a variety of conditions--blizzard helped--and I now know winter biking is tricky! There are numerous variables at play--slush, snow, and ice-- with every ride and conditions change as temp drops. Add cars, trucks,and buses to this stew and this is challenging scheise. I walked some sections of my ride just to be safe.

But when the bike trail is packed or its just icy and those studs dig in, I love it! I've always taken biking for granted, but this is different. This requires a new skill set.


I just picked up my first pair of studded tires (Hakkapelittas) from a Craigslist seller today. I'm excited, now I want it to snow! We usually only get a handful of days that I'd need them for, but I want to be able to ride everyday. Besides, relying on the buses here when it snows is iffy at best.
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Old 12-22-12, 09:47 PM   #3
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Winter biking is a skill? Tell me about it!! One time here in West Texas it was actually below 60 degrees F on a winter day! A few years ago, there was an actual snowflake; but most of us think it was probably a feather. One time (and I ain't kidding here) I actually had to wear a light jacket. Yes, winter bicycling in El Paso takes a lot of skill!
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Old 12-22-12, 11:37 PM   #4
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Tractorlegs, I'd welcome you to come up to Sioux Falls and we'll go for a ride. Once you get the hang of it it's kind of fun to "read" the snow so you know what set of skills will come into play. Trouble is, sometimes there's ice or other nasties lurking under the snow so you get a chance to develop new skills like recovering from a front wheel skid!
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Old 12-23-12, 03:11 AM   #5
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Winter biking is a skill? Tell me about it!! One time here in West Texas it was actually below 60 degrees F on a winter day! A few years ago, there was an actual snowflake; but most of us think it was probably a feather. One time (and I ain't kidding here) I actually had to wear a light jacket. Yes, winter bicycling in El Paso takes a lot of skill!
If you've never seen a real igloo or built a snowman - you just haven't lived! So ..... does Santa wear shorts and sunscreen in your area?
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Old 12-23-12, 07:45 AM   #6
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If you've never seen a real igloo or built a snowman - you just haven't lived! So ..... does Santa wear shorts and sunscreen in your area?
I don't know, because I've never seen him - but I do know he uses a helicopter instead of a sleigh!

Burton and labrat, I grew up and bicycled for years and years in the Denver area. I lived in a little tourist-trap mountain village called Idaho Springs, Colorado and so I have a lot of bicycle/cold/snow experience. But now I'm in the desert so I like to make fun of my snow-bound friends! Ride Free!
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Old 12-23-12, 09:15 AM   #7
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with every ride and conditions change as temp drops.
Think of it as the cure for your boring three-season commute.
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Old 12-24-12, 11:42 AM   #8
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It does take practice and like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

As long as I can see the ice, I am comfortable riding across it without studs. It gets me once or twice a winter if it is under uncleared snow and I don't know it is there. This almost always happens under difficult conditions at a slow speed. I'd much rather have a thump or 2 than use studded tires.

I also don't like fat knobby tires. The best ones for me year round have been the cheaper ones with some rubber on them, not slicks.
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Old 12-24-12, 11:46 PM   #9
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good info to me ,Think of it as the cure for your boring three-season commute,thanks you ,Merry Christmas
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Old 12-27-12, 08:39 AM   #10
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It may require certain skills to keep the bike upright but I still do not biking in snow, ice or slush. Actually, I would enjoy it if it were not for the damn cars. On my way home last night, I thought it would be such a bikers paradise if there were no cars to worry about. In my paradise, cars would be banned. Snow plows could make a single pass and bikes would not turn everything into a sloppy, dirty, mess as cars do.
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Old 12-27-12, 09:16 AM   #11
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Yes, it demands more of me too, both in terms of skills as well as effort. When there's fresh snow, it is harder to plow through. Today, the footprints on the paths were "hard" so the ride was like cobble stones. I'm very slow going around corners because I know I'm going to lose it, almost did on my first day in the middle of the street turning on to my street (no cars so I'd just end up with a bruise and embarrassment).
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Old 12-27-12, 09:19 AM   #12
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I feel like studs solve 95% of the skill issues, the rest is just will power.
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Old 12-27-12, 10:56 AM   #13
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LOL I have just discovered that I completely lack both the skill or will power required to navigate unplowed streets with a foot or more of fresh snow on them. I got no more than a few blocks before deciding 'these boots were made for walking.'

Funny - but futile. There's just too many of those funny little white crystalline thingies and they swarmed the wheels! The studs just made it take a little longer for me to realize I wasn't gonna win this one!

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Old 12-27-12, 11:29 AM   #14
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I can do the wet, but that white stuff usually wins.
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Old 12-27-12, 07:23 PM   #15
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I feel like studs solve 95% of the skill issues, the rest is just will power.
I dunno. I think winter technique differs in at least three ways with studded tires.

1) You're not going to carve corners with them, wet, dry, snowy, or icy. So just forget that.
2) High cadence and light pedal effort works best for me in both the moving forwards and the staying balanced departments.
3) When it gets dicey, I shift back on the bike, unloading the front--just the opposite of what you ordinarily do on a roadie. This lets the front float and wander a bit, finding its own path. Otherwise it tends to follow ruts, or if the ice or hardpack is loose on the street, it will plow it along on the street. Plus, if the bike breaks through hardpack, it always causes a sideshift. It's easier to recover from the rear sideshifting rather than the front.
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Old 12-27-12, 09:05 PM   #16
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I feel like studs solve 95% of the skill issues, the rest is just will power.
^ has obviously never ridden in extreme winter conditions.
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Old 12-27-12, 09:35 PM   #17
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Hmmmmmmm ..... so after managing to do a couple blocks and then checking the news and confirming that it wasn't my imagination - that this storm actually broke all records for snow accumulation - I'm thinkin' the most important skill is knowing when to stay home!

Wait! I still have to shovel the parking lot! I feel sore already!
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Old 12-27-12, 10:40 PM   #18
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3) When it gets dicey, I shift back on the bike, unloading the front--just the opposite of what you ordinarily do on a roadie. This lets the front float and wander a bit, finding its own path. Otherwise it tends to follow ruts, or if the ice or hardpack is loose on the street, it will plow it along on the street. Plus, if the bike breaks through hardpack, it always causes a sideshift. It's easier to recover from the rear sideshifting rather than the front.
Interesting. So you keep weight to the back.

So what happens when you hit something you can't go through?

I'm usually back there, sort of ready to have feet hitting the ground. Usually that means a forward slide off the saddle.(We've had some heavy snow lately and a lot of remnants around. Lucky to do 5-6 miles in an hour and even then it's quite a workout.)
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Old 12-27-12, 10:43 PM   #19
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LOL I have just discovered that I completely lack both the skill or will power required to navigate unplowed streets with a foot or more of fresh snow on them. I got no more than a few blocks before deciding 'these boots were made for walking.'
!
You discover you aren't Superman. Winter cycling can sometimes be a humbling experience... at least IMHO.
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Old 12-27-12, 11:05 PM   #20
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Interesting. So you keep weight to the back.

So what happens when you hit something you can't go through?
I said I do this when it gets "dicey". "Impassible" is something different entirely. For that, I re-route.
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Old 12-27-12, 11:21 PM   #21
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Hmmmmmmm ..... so after managing to do a couple blocks and then checking the news and confirming that it wasn't my imagination - that this storm actually broke all records for snow accumulation - I'm thinkin' the most important skill is knowing when to stay home!

Wait! I still have to shovel the parking lot! I feel sore already!
I'll ride in just about anything and I took the bus today. Just too much snow to plow through for a 13km ride. My neighbourhood hadn't been plowed yet this morning with about 10-15cm on the ground with more to come. We broke records here too with 25cm of snow.

Last edited by DJ Shaun; 12-27-12 at 11:22 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-28-12, 12:17 AM   #22
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I'll ride in just about anything and I took the bus today. Just too much snow to plow through for a 13km ride. My neighbourhood hadn't been plowed yet this morning with about 10-15cm on the ground with more to come. We broke records here too with 25cm of snow.
We just got 40 in one shot with another 5 expected overnight. Anyone wanna come up and help dig things out? Started shovelling yesterday and already have snow piled higher than the six foot fence. Had to quit - apparentky one guy my age already collapsed while shovelling and I don't wanna mess up my chances of making it to 601!!!
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Old 12-28-12, 08:12 AM   #23
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I use the bike for fitness, stress relief, and to save money. I'm into winter number six and enjoying it. Wouldn't mind having a melt for the ridges of ice though. New snow on top of those old ridges is quite interesting. Y'all have a safe and prosperous New Year. Blues Froggie
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Old 12-28-12, 09:29 AM   #24
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^ has obviously never ridden in extreme winter conditions.
Six years of Rochester winters, but mostly on roads.
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Old 12-28-12, 09:50 AM   #25
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Interesting. So you keep weight to the back.

So what happens when you hit something you can't go through?
Yes, you want to unload the front wheel. For really deep snow, you are almost constantly doing a wheelie...a little one. For the stuff you can't get through, you walk. I find that I can ride in snow from 6" to 12" with it getting progressively harder as the depth increases. That's Colorado snow, however. Our snow tends to have a low moisture content and is pretty easy to ride in.
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