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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 12-01-10, 01:43 PM   #1
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Say good-bye to the ground...

...it'll be covered with white stuff soon. We got a first dusting of snow today, and if it's a typical winter we'll get several heavy snowfalls before Christmas--all white and no sign of green or brown for several months. A lot of people keep on riding here in Michigan, and I can't be the only one who actually enjoys it!

Does anybody have suggestions that they want to share for snow and cold? Or questions to ask, fears to get over, or an (irrational) sense of impending doom?
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Old 12-01-10, 03:12 PM   #2
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It just snowed today. It wasn't supposed to start really snowing and sticking until the later afternoon or evening, and I was planning on leaving work somewhat early. Instead it started snowing and sticking at 11 am. I wish I had put my snow tires on last night and worn my winter boots today. Ooops.
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Old 12-01-10, 07:20 PM   #3
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No snow here, in fact it was 15 degrees above normal, but now a huge cold front has blown through and we are 15 degrees below normal!

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Old 12-01-10, 07:51 PM   #4
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As the weather gets colder, there are fewer and fewer cyclists around. I keep looking for bicycles and there aren't any... except me. A moment of irrational thought: maybe I'm a complete nut job.

A good cure for this type of thinking is some support. A good video helps too. From 2009. Chicago.
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Old 12-01-10, 10:16 PM   #5
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I'll ride in most conditions, a torrential downpour doesn't even make me hesitate, but ice and snow terrify me. When it snowed in Seattle last week, I left the bike at home and walked to work. (It's only 3 miles, so I have that luxury...) How do you guys do it? When it snows here, every street is an ice rink. How do you keep from falling every couple of blocks?

Gerv: I loved the video; thanks for posting it.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:48 AM   #6
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How do you guys do it? When it snows here, every street is an ice rink. How do you keep from falling every couple of blocks?
Shwalbe Marathon Winter tires with studs. I put Bell No-More-Flats inner tubes inside so I will never need to change a flat tire during winter. They are much heavier but I'll never need to endanger my life by needing to stop and repair a tire.

After the first mile of pedaling with full winter clothes it gets hot, even at temperatures around zero. I met a lady who said that riding in minus thirty degree weather is always cold no matter how much clothing is worn. Goggles are mandatory when the temperatures are far below zero because eye lids will freeze shut when the moisture in tears is present.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:52 AM   #7
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Taught a tyre studding workshop tonight and we have never had so many people attend... besides the people who had booked we doubled that with walk ins and just lucked out in having some extra volunteers to help with the instruction.

The number of cyclists has dropped since the temps dropped and we got a good bit of snow but I am seeing more cyclists than I thought I would.

Temps have been nice this week and are hovering just below zero C so it is rather pleasant to ride in.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:54 AM   #8
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How do you guys do it? When it snows here, every street is an ice rink. How do you keep from falling every couple of blocks?
128 studs helps...

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Old 12-02-10, 02:22 AM   #9
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It just started to snow in Seoul last week. This is the first winter of my life that I have lived somewhere with snow. My main concern is for my bike. I have no idea if they salt the roads here or not. How many people here use beaters for the winter? Seoul gets cold but probably not as cold as a lot of the places that some of you guys live in. Do I really need studded tires? About 70% of my commute is on a MUP which I am pretty sure will get plowed or swept in one way or another, but even that I am not 100% on. I doubt I could source a pair of studded tires here even if I wanted to spend the cash on them. I only live about a 6k walk from my job so walking is an option. So is the bus or subway.
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Old 12-02-10, 02:24 AM   #10
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Making a studded tyre costs about $5.00... most folks find that the DIY tyres we make are better than commercial tyres.
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Old 12-02-10, 03:06 AM   #11
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Taught a tyre studding workshop tonight and we have never had so many people attend... besides the people who had booked we doubled that with walk ins and just lucked out in having some extra volunteers to help with the instruction.
Hmm. Wish I'd asked you for some tips before ordering the Schwalbe winters. We're experiencing record-breaking snowfall for the time of year round here. In parts of Scotland last night it was -14C; about 7 fahrenheit? What do you use for studs and how do you protect the tubes?
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Old 12-02-10, 03:17 AM   #12
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Hmm. Wish I'd asked you for some tips before ordering the Schwalbe winters. We're experiencing record-breaking snowfall for the time of year round here. In parts of Scotland last night it was -14C; about 7 fahrenheit? What do you use for studs and how do you protect the tubes?
And out in the real world...

All the info on this is here.
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Old 12-02-10, 03:32 AM   #13
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And out in the real world...
Indeed. Nice to emerge, blinking, into the daylight...

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All the info on this is here.
Fantastic, thanks. Never heard of a Robertson screw before.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:09 AM   #14
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No snow yet, but there was frost all over the ground. It was 31 degrees F and I tried out my new winter boots and smartwool socks on the 9.5 mile commute. At the end, my feet were cool but not popsicles. However my knit inner gloves with mittens over them didn't provide enough protection, and my helmet, watchcap and Castelli skull cap didn't prevent an occasional brain freeze. I guess I have to do the Sheldon Brown tape trick.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:01 PM   #15
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Biking in Toronto in the winter was relatively easy. Not a fan of riding on hardpack, but in the city just picked wherever was clearest and rode there, if it was the middle of the only passable lane on the road than so be it (some honking of course may ensue)

Here the challenges are:
1. on island they use sand rather than salt (salt melts so it does make roads clearer if bikes messier) and there are two steep hills which will scare me to go down if they are dicey (13% and 15%)
2. off island there are two ways only to get to town - one is 110 kph (70 mph) 4-lane divided highway with on/off-ramps and a generous shoulder (bikes allowed), and the other is 80 kph (50 mph) 2-lane highway with moderate traffic and varying shoulder (small and broken, non-existent, decent) in different sections. There are some blind curves.

Unfortunately ploughed snow tends to block the little shoulder there is. It does not feel comfortable to ride too far out in the lane on the 80 highway, though we do have mirrors. On the 110 highway its stay on the shoulder only.

The bus to town (with bike racks) only runs 4 times a day so while it is sometimes possible to use it in one direction it never works out for two.

Its possible studded tires may help to ride on the shoulder if its not too deep but just dicey in terms of ice underneath (we've never owned any studded tires), but the question with ice becomes other drivers. One night recently my husband was on the bus and the driver mentioned that several cars on the highway that night had slid into the ditch with the icy conditions. So even say with a recumbent trike to help stay upright there's the worry of other drivers losing control.

Anyway just wondering if anyone else rides on fast roads in winter conditions and any tips.
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Old 12-02-10, 04:03 PM   #16
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The Winter Cycling Forum is chock full of great information and tips... figure that most of the folks who post in there are car free, hard core commuters, or just plain loopy.

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Old 12-02-10, 05:21 PM   #17
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I'll ride in most conditions, a torrential downpour doesn't even make me hesitate, but ice and snow terrify me. When it snowed in Seattle last week, I left the bike at home and walked to work. (It's only 3 miles, so I have that luxury...) How do you guys do it? When it snows here, every street is an ice rink. How do you keep from falling every couple of blocks?

Gerv: I loved the video; thanks for posting it.
It's a knack, like almost anything else we do. Practice, practice, practice.

Riding on ice is a lot like driving on ice--don't do anything sudden. Plan ahead so you don't have to stop quickly, turn sharply, or accelerate rapidly. If you do have to stop quickly, sometimes it's better to lean the bike a bit and use your foot to stop. (Obviously this can't be done by most riders if you''re going faster than 10 mph or so.) A lot of riders put their seat a little lower when conditions are icy.

As for the bike, use a stable one like a MTB or touring bike if you can. Platform pedals are probably best for most riders. Studded tires are great, but you can use knobbies too. Cyclocross tires are said to be good on a road bike, but I never tried them.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:27 PM   #18
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The Winter Cycling Forum is chock full of great information and tips... figure that most of the folks who post in there are car free, hard core commuters, or just plain loopy.

Agreed, but keep in mind that these are mostly hardcore winter riders. Don't let the posts on the Winter Cycling Forum scare you.

Most of us everyday cyclists will be on plowed roads and trails. Most of us will only ride 30 to 60 minutes at a time, so we don't need that super-warm clothing they talk about on the winter forum. We're usually in town so we don't need survival gear. If I start to get cold, I just stop at a coffee shop or something and warm up for a few minutes, and I don't have to worry about getting stomped on by a moose or anything.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:30 PM   #19
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It's the packs of wolves that run alongside that are really motivational... you know they are just waiting for you to fall down.

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Old 12-02-10, 05:34 PM   #20
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<-> How do you guys do it? When it snows here, every street is an ice rink. How do you keep from falling every couple of blocks? <->
I use a trike, best for snow riding ever.
We do not often have snow here, a couple of days in the year on average, but last winter we had a couple of weeks and this year it has started snowing in November and it is sticking around for at least a week. (Which is very long for snow here that early in the year.)
I used to go to work and before that school, whatever the weather, but did not go out of pleasure or even meetings that could be avoided if there was a chance on slippery roads.
Now I just go, steady on three wheels.

Helping is that most of the commute is on bike paths and 30 km/h (20 mph) city streets. Very low traffic if i manage to miss the school runs.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:35 PM   #21
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Old 12-02-10, 07:43 PM   #22
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I use a trike, best for snow riding ever.
We do not often have snow here, a couple of days in the year on average, but last winter we had a couple of weeks and this year it has started snowing in November and it is sticking around for at least a week. (Which is very long for snow here that early in the year.)
I used to go to work and before that school, whatever the weather, but did not go out of pleasure or even meetings that could be avoided if there was a chance on slippery roads.
Now I just go, steady on three wheels.

Helping is that most of the commute is on bike paths and 30 km/h (20 mph) city streets. Very low traffic if i manage to miss the school runs.
From what I see in Dutch YouTube bike videos (we watch those a lot around here...), the snow doesn't actually develop into ice. It stays mainly sloppy and wet... which means it should be ok for biking. Are studded tires used very much?
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Old 12-02-10, 09:38 PM   #23
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I learned with this much snow frequent breaks, and plenty of coffee upon arrival are in need. And im jumping on the bangwagon for the diy studded, they are great, now that i made one im gonna stud a new tire, (i was a little nervous to use a new tire first)
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Old 12-02-10, 09:42 PM   #24
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From what I see in Dutch YouTube bike videos (we watch those a lot around here...), the snow doesn't actually develop into ice. It stays mainly sloppy and wet... which means it should be ok for biking. Are studded tires used very much?
That's the problem with Arkansas, we don't get snow so much as we get ice and sleet. So the road surfaces become slick and lumpy. Last winter I got to ride a bus that was skating sideways down the hill. That was interesting. I'm not sure if even studded tires would help there.
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Old 12-02-10, 09:49 PM   #25
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Studded on a bike, at least the DIY ones any kind of ice really doesn't stand a chance last week i was on completely glare ice i could see the stars reflecting off the surface and i was riding as normal
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