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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-24-08, 11:33 AM   #1
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How's your winter going?

Did you ride all winter or switch over to the bus? Did you find any gear or equipment that worked great this winter? Anything that didn't really work at all? Will you do things differently next year? What problems or challenges did you encounter?
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Old 02-24-08, 11:43 AM   #2
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Did you ride all winter or switch over to the bus? Did you find any gear or equipment that worked great this winter? Anything that didn't really work at all? Will you do things differently next year? What problems or challenges did you encounter?
Getting more Fox River wool socks...seems everybody was out of stock including Fox River Weather here has been unusually mild. Mostly just fog and rain vs our twice a winter ice/snow storm. In fact, headed out to the grocery store in a bit with current temps in the 50's and the sun breaking thru the clouds

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Old 02-24-08, 11:49 AM   #3
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Snow's been melting here and the roads are almost completely bare so I've had my good bike out last weekend and this weekend.

Throughout the winter, I've used an old mountain bike with knobby tires to get around. It's done the job nicely but I'm planning on making a few minor changes for next winter.
• Some mechanical and maintenance items are needed. The bottom bracket needs to be replaced as do the brake pads. A complete tune-up and cleaning are also needed.
• Fenders will make a difference. Right now the spray from the roads goes everywhere, making a mess of clothing.
• I may attach a wire basket on my rear rack for hauling groceries or other goods.
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Old 02-24-08, 11:54 AM   #4
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We've been using the bus. We're all looking forward to getting bikes back out in a few weeks.
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Old 02-24-08, 02:24 PM   #5
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Riding (and walking) all winter, but the weather stays pretty mild here in southern virginia. finally got some fenders and also got a patagonia micropuff pullover on a closeout sale and wear it every cold day. love both.
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Old 02-24-08, 03:33 PM   #6
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I got a Land's End squall jacket for Christmas. That kept me warm while riding in minus 20F wind chills with a light sweater underneath. It also sheds snow real well. It's too warm for temps above 20F, even unzipped.

I dug out a neoprene headband, with polar fleece lining, that I got a few years ago. It keeps my ears warmer than just about anything else. Combined with a stocking cap it was also effective in blizzard conditions. I don't have much experience with neoprene, but it looks promising. I think neoprene gloves would be nice.

Some New Balance all-terrain running shoes (model 83) were a disappointment. They weren't very warm and they didn't keep out water very well. They also smell funny. An older pair of NBs were much more effective and odor free.

My Trek MTB froze up pretty bad a couple times. My previous winter bikes (Specialized Hardrock and Giant Rincon) never had that problem.
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Old 02-24-08, 04:32 PM   #7
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Last year, I didn't ride all winter. This year, I made it a point to go out in all of the worst weather.

What I learned about my bike:

-- I have to be careful about my chain lube. It attracts gunk
-- Fixed gear is good for winter.
-- Cross tires are just as good as studded tires, when you live in a city that gets plowed now and again

What I learned about myself:

-- I'm tough.

What I learned about my gear:

-- Spats are way better than rolling up pants
-- Nylon liner-gloves inside of leather work-gloves = soooo good
-- Waterproof boots are good
-- A waterproof shell over several sweaters is way better than a down coat
-- Goggles from the Army Surplus are great for hail. Shaving cream keeps them from fogging.

---------

The other day, on an icy morning, I passed an officer quite legally on the left. He yelled out the window at me, and I ignored him. Later, he caught up to me while I was locking up, and said: "It's dangerous to go that fast on this ice. I said: "Maybe if I were in a car, it would be."
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Old 02-24-08, 05:56 PM   #8
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No snow here, but we still get fairly cold weather. The coldest I've ridden in this year was 11 degrees Fahrenheit, with a windchill of 3. It's really not that bad, and much like last year I find that I still tend to overdress most of the time. Around here we get a lot of cold rain in the winter, which really sucks. I'd like to see a decent snow just once around here, like it used to be when I was young.
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Old 02-24-08, 06:00 PM   #9
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This winter has been cold and snowy. That said it has been an absolute blast to ride in .
It has been warm the last couple of days so the roads have been super slushy. Also fun, but then I have fenders.
I am looking forward to the warmer weather so I can ride my nice bike though.
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Old 02-24-08, 09:14 PM   #10
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I've been on the bike for most of the winter, mostly because it rarely gets icy here. On those rare days when it is in fact snowy and slippery, I wimp out and walk or take the bus. I have full rain gear, fenders, and a nice neoprene hat and gloves, so I'm pretty comfortable virtually all the time. Like others, I've discovered that multiple thin layers under a waterproof shell works the best. I have to clean my drivetrain and rims a lot; things can get really gunky in a hurry this time of year. I've stopped using panniers for the time being, opting instead for a waterproof backpack made by Ortlieb. It's easier to ride more aggressively without the panniers, and there's less resistance in a head wind. I may go back to them when it gets hot again; I like arriving at my destination without a sweaty back.
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Old 02-24-08, 09:33 PM   #11
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I've been on the bike for most of the winter, mostly because it rarely gets icy here. On those rare days when it is in fact snowy and slippery, I wimp out and walk or take the bus. I have full rain gear, fenders, and a nice neoprene hat and gloves, so I'm pretty comfortable virtually all the time. Like others, I've discovered that multiple thin layers under a waterproof shell works the best. I have to clean my drivetrain and rims a lot; things can get really gunky in a hurry this time of year. I've stopped using panniers for the time being, opting instead for a waterproof backpack made by Ortlieb. It's easier to ride more aggressively without the panniers, and there's less resistance in a head wind. I may go back to them when it gets hot again; I like arriving at my destination without a sweaty back.
One thing I like about a backpack is that it keeps my back warmer.

How have you been cleaning your drive train and rims? One problem is that in the winter they need cleaning the most, but who wants to go out in the cold and clean something? The best I've ever done in winter is wipe stuff with a rag and WD40, but that doesn't work real great. Any tips?
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Old 02-24-08, 09:45 PM   #12
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How have you been cleaning your drive train and rims? Any tips?


I stand mine up in the shower stall and have at it with the shower massage on the gentle spray setting. Hang by the radiator to dry, then wipe down and relube the chain.
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Old 02-24-08, 10:03 PM   #13
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One thing I like about a backpack is that it keeps my back warmer.

How have you been cleaning your drive train and rims? One problem is that in the winter they need cleaning the most, but who wants to go out in the cold and clean something? The best I've ever done in winter is wipe stuff with a rag and WD40, but that doesn't work real great. Any tips?
I keep my bike on the balcony of my apartment, so it's at least protected from the rain if not the cold. To clean the rims, I just use a rag and rubbing alcohol. (I read about that in the Lennard Zinn book, and it works well.) If the break pads are dirty, I'll give them a quick wipe, too. For the drive train, both gears and chain, I just flip the bike upside down and use a rag, followed by an old toothbrush, and then I add a very small amount of chain lube. (I've thought about getting one of those chain bath things, but they seem a little silly to me, so I haven't actually done it.) If I were you, I wouldn't use WD40 on any part of your drive train; it attracts dirt like a magnet, as I discovered to my own considerable dismay last year. The whole routine takes about 10 minutes, once a week or so, more often if it's been slushy or they've gone crazy with the street sanding.

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Old 02-24-08, 10:18 PM   #14
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Well, this year was a breeze. The weather was a little warmer and we didn't have any snow. My only change this year is that I tossed my 16 year old raincoat and bought a new rain suit. The bib overalls with it are seriously heavy and difficult to ride in. So I only use the coat and hood unless I am anticipating a downpour.
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Old 02-24-08, 10:38 PM   #15
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How have you been cleaning your drive train and rims?
I've done very little in the way of cleaning my bike. My winter bike is a cheap beater and as long as it works, that's all that matters to me. I'll give it a thorough cleaning this spring, after I've taken it off the road for the year. I'll do my maintenance at the same time.
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Old 02-24-08, 11:06 PM   #16
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I stand mine up in the shower stall and have at it with the shower massage on the gentle spray setting. Hang by the radiator to dry, then wipe down and relube the chain.


I'm sorry, but I'd rather have a dirty bike than a dirty shower!
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Old 02-24-08, 11:17 PM   #17
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I keep my bike on the balcony of my apartment, so it's at least protected from the rain if not the cold. To clean the rims, I just use a rag and rubbing alcohol. (I read about that in the Lennard Zinn book, and it works well.) If the break pads are dirty, I'll give them a quick wipe, too. For the drive train, both gears and chain, I just flip the bike upside down and use a rag, followed by an old toothbrush, and then I add a very small amount of chain lube. (I've thought about getting one of those chain bath things, but they seem a little silly to me, so I haven't actually done it.) If I were you, I wouldn't use WD40 on any part of your drive train; it attracts dirt like a magnet, as I discovered to my own considerable dismay last year. The whole routine takes about 10 minutes, once a week or so, more often if it's been slushy or they've gone crazy with the street sanding.
Thanks, I'll try the alcohol on rims and pads. I only use the WD40 on the bottom of the frame, not on moving parts. Well maybe the jockey wheels sometimes. As for the chain, I never clean it--only lube it--and I don't notice excessive wear. I've been using White Lightnin' wet weather lube this winter. It works well but it gets so thick in the cold weather that it's hard to squeeze out of the bottle. I need to start storing it in the house instead of in the garage.
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Old 02-25-08, 01:49 AM   #18
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Rode all winter. The edge is pretty much gone from it now, i'm back to riding around in birkenstocks
it was a good season.

Equipment that worked great:
Xtracycle: they aren't lying about it being good in winter. The long wheelbase really makes it a stable experience, even on wet powder over ice, over gravel.
Whatever grease is in my Rocky Mountain Fusion: I just bought this bike, and was really surprised to see that even in the deep freeze of -30C or worse, my freewheel has *no* trouble engaging. I wish I knew what grease they packed in there.
Wooly wicking socks: incredible improvement over cotton. No brainer there, I just hadn't bought any before.
Schwalbe Ice Spiker tires: 130lbs of groceries over uneven, wet ice? Check.


What did not work:
Shimano M465 Disk brakes: I have had the Worst experience with these. After having gone from Avid v-brakes over to these, I was expecting to experience disk brakes for the first time and see what everyone raves about: well, they aren't fun, at all. The bike shop calibrated them for me and they seemed to work fine, for about 40 minutes of riding. Now, the rear wheel skreeeeeaks on braking, and has so little braking power I can get off the bike, grab the lever and roll the bike around the ground with the wheel turning. Being my first pair, I have no idea how to calibrate them yet. I was going to work on that tomorrow, actually.

They're extremely noisy when they get even slightly cold or wet, and the braking power on them sort of "wavers" like you get when you have a rim with a bump in it. There's either something seriously wrong with both brakes, or they're just utter Junk.

If it turns out they're just honestly junk, I may try some Avid BB7s, as they seem to get a good review. Does anyone know how to keep disk brakes from making so much noise when they're even just a tiny bit wet though?

The biggest problem i've yet encountered is that I will simply admit to being a rustophobe. Its nice that the Rocky Mountain frame won't rust, but the Xtracycle is made in California. I spent several hours spraying the insides of the tubing with rust proofing, covering the snapdeck, taping the uprights closed, and going over the tongue, eyelets, and brake mounts with rust paint.

Next year, the only thing i'm going to do differently is hopefully have more functional, enjoyable brakes.
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Old 02-25-08, 10:05 AM   #19
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This winter, with the acquisition of a winter beater with studded tires, I have been able to get through the last impediment to full winter certification, snow. Last year I did cold down to 15 below (F) but my main commuter was too heavy for plowing through snow. The winter beater is kept light (fenders and lights, no other attachments) and is easier to move and control in snow. In the worst case, I could carry it and walk.

Now that I have earned the four advanced commuter certifications (for which I am still trying to design patches) of rain, darkness, cold, and snow, I am looking for the next challenge in moving from car mobility to bicycle mobility. I think that is going to be grocery shopping. I need some project to keep my motivation up.
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Old 02-25-08, 10:45 AM   #20
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Been an awful winter for me. Unable to ride due to ice, then we had a huge snowstorm and the plows piled all the snow on the inner lanes and sidewalks making it too congested to road ride. Been on the bus for two months and it sucks
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Old 02-25-08, 03:17 PM   #21
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Things I learned this winter:

Windproof shell over hoodie and other shirt is very comfortable, even with a -30 windchill.

Boots without holes will need to be purchased before next winter, because I know I'm too lazy/forgetful to tape them or put baggies over my feet.

Fenders do not necessarily equal dry and clean upon reaching destination (i.e. do not wear work pants on the bike in the winter).

Smartwool makes an excellent underlayer.

Very light track bike w/skinny tires + 40lbs of groceries on the back = very cautious and annoying ride home. I know to use a bike with some substance now.

Apparently, very, very cold temperatures make it very difficult for drivers to pay attention to anything but themselves.

That's all.
Overall, fantastic and fun winter riding (made it out every single day this year), but very happy to see spring around the corner!
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Old 02-25-08, 03:53 PM   #22
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Stuff I learned:

1. WI bikes need studded tires, even when everyone says "but we never have ice here!"

2. WI bikers need long underwear, wool pants, squall jackets, wool socks, wool sweaters, wool hats, and wool mittens. My down jacket failed catastrophically in a freak rain/ice storm this winter, and I was *very* lucky that it didn't end with me in the ER.

3. Trying to bike through the worst winter on record is a dumb idea, especially when you're used to California winters. I planned on walking and buses since I'm not acclimated. That was the smartest thing I've done all winter. We've had over 6 feet of snow (2m) so far, and if things continue, we may hit over 8 feet. Even the natives are having trouble.

4. Have backup hats, gloves, mittens, scarves... if it can get wet, it will. Plan ahead so you are not caught short with nothing dry.

5. As long as I'm active, I stay pretty warm.

6. Yup, my mittens still flunk at warm when it's below 10F. Fat yarn does not make good mittens. Am working on a New! Improved! design.



Stuff I already knew:

1. Hypothermia makes you stupid.

2. Wool is good.

3. Snow is evil.
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Old 02-25-08, 05:25 PM   #23
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I had my first bit of excitement this past week. I pumped up my tire about 5 psi more than normal one morning and after getting out of class, I found my tube had exploded. It was probably due to the temperate change (about 30 degrees when i left and 65 or so when i got out of class). Regardless, my rim was way out of true and I had my first experience with a truing stand. Luckily a friend had one I could borrow. Fun times.
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Old 02-25-08, 05:57 PM   #24
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I had my first bit of excitement this past week. I pumped up my tire about 5 psi more than normal one morning and after getting out of class, I found my tube had exploded. It was probably due to the temperate change (about 30 degrees when i left and 65 or so when i got out of class). Regardless, my rim was way out of true and I had my first experience with a truing stand. Luckily a friend had one I could borrow. Fun times.
I wonder if the crooked rim had anything to do with the tube popping?
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Old 02-25-08, 06:02 PM   #25
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Stuff I learned:

1. WI bikes need studded tires, even when everyone says "but we never have ice here!"

2. WI bikers need long underwear, wool pants, squall jackets, wool socks, wool sweaters, wool hats, and wool mittens. My down jacket failed catastrophically in a freak rain/ice storm this winter, and I was *very* lucky that it didn't end with me in the ER.

3. Trying to bike through the worst winter on record is a dumb idea, especially when you're used to California winters. I planned on walking and buses since I'm not acclimated. That was the smartest thing I've done all winter. We've had over 6 feet of snow (2m) so far, and if things continue, we may hit over 8 feet. Even the natives are having trouble.

4. Have backup hats, gloves, mittens, scarves... if it can get wet, it will. Plan ahead so you are not caught short with nothing dry.

5. As long as I'm active, I stay pretty warm.

6. Yup, my mittens still flunk at warm when it's below 10F. Fat yarn does not make good mittens. Am working on a New! Improved! design.



Stuff I already knew:

1. Hypothermia makes you stupid.

2. Wool is good.

3. Snow is evil
.
Great post and I was totally with you until the very end when you said "snow is evil." I think just the opposite. Snow is so pure and it covers up ugly imperfections of the world. I think it's cool that the world totally changes color 4 times a year: Bright green in the spring, dark green in summertime, red, orange and yellow in fall, and white in winter.
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