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  1. #1
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    Worst Winter+Ill-prepared = car free fail!

    Wow. This Michigan winter has been brutal. Coldest, most snow, longest stretch of below freezing days, in over 100 years. It's kicked my ass! And I am SO glad it's over!
    Last October I sold my broke down pickup and bought a Recumbent delta trike(1 wheel in front and 2 in back), knowing that it's what I'd be riding it in the snow. I'd never gone car free for full winter, on a bicycle. Let me tell you, this winter hit me hard, showing me every single mistake I made. And oh did I make plenty! I didn't realize how poor my traction would be on that front wheel. Until I'm trying to get thru 4" of snow, front tire turned 45° just to go straight because the rear was only 1 wheel drive, and every time I'd pedal, the bike would turn left! Surpringly, the road tires did admirably even without studs. If the trike had been an actual 2 wheel drive, I would have not gotten stuck at all. Sadly, that was the only positive surprise!
    Derailleurs that looked perfectly dry were frozen solid, so much of the Winter, my 21 speed trike was a manual shift 2 speed!
    Rear brake calipers that looked perfectly dry were dragging unmercifly, so part of the Winter was spent with front brakes only. Remember, the front wheel that had to be turned in order to go straight on slick surfaces?
    But, truth be told, none of that mattered much. I learned that a bike with a 32" wide rear end was useless in the winter unless I was willing to ride in the streets all the time. Without fully functional brakes and shifting, I was NOT going to spend much time in the streets. Nope, it was almost all sidewalk for me. Or so I thought. See, people don't shovel sidewalks around here much. And if they do.... they shovel a 9" wide path, if they are being generous. Of course, there were many many many days that were simply too cold. So, I only got 50 miles of riding in for the last 14 weeks!

    So, this spring and summer are going to be spent making up for lost miles, and on correcting the many many deficiencies in my winter time carfree plan!

    I got my ass handed to me this winter every time I thought about going for a ride! I'm grateful for a few generous friends so I could get where I needed to.

    Anyone else get their clock cleaned by not being prepared?

  2. #2
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    That's quite a story. But the good part is that it won't happen again. You learned.

    When I moved from the desert to Arkansas, it was a big wake up call. Fortunately my first winter was a mild one, so I spent all winter wondering what it would be like when winter hit. But the second winter introduced me to riding over frozen precipitation.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    That's quite a story. But the good part is that it won't happen again. You learned.

    When I moved from the desert to Arkansas, it was a big wake up call. Fortunately my first winter was a mild one, so I spent all winter wondering what it would be like when winter hit. But the second winter introduced me to riding over frozen precipitation.
    Lol, yeah I sure did!

    We had a winter like that 2 years ago. This year we got your answer!
    Last edited by WisdomWarlord; 03-15-14 at 02:41 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wipekitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WisdomWarlord View Post

    Anyone else get their clock cleaned by not being prepared?
    My clock didn't quite get cleaned...just roughed up a bit.

    I was car free in Michigan for a bit...in my late teens and early 20s. Moved away, spent a decade in places with warmer winters and/or the kind of snow that melts.

    Moving back to the Upper Midwest, I thought I knew what I was doing. I built up a fixed gear with knobby tires, unpacked my cycling (ski) goggles, and hit up Farm & Fleet for long underwear and gear.

    The cold was fine - it was the snow and ice that set me back. I still managed to get everywhere I needed to go, by bike, but my choice of equipment meant that I had to stick to less-than-ideal major streets and keep exploring to a minimum. Fortunately, I didn't get hurt, and fortunately, I now have a really good excuse to get another bike before next winter

  5. #5
    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WisdomWarlord View Post
    Anyone else get their clock cleaned by not being prepared?
    I was prepared, but this winter was rough. I don't have to contend with what some other people here do, so I feel bad complaining, but I'm so done with winter. Luckily, (I guess not luckily, it's the main reason I live where I do) there's a free shuttle that takes me about 1 mile from my work so if I just don't want to deal with it I don't have to… I rode the shuttle a lot in the last month.

  6. #6
    Fearless Isaiahc72's Avatar
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    I wasn't prepared either. But out of sheer doggedness, I didn't give up. I slipped allot on the ice but I'm still alive so I can't really complain. It was a good experience
    IC

  7. #7
    Senior Member shipwreck's Avatar
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    I don't live that far north, but I did do more riding this winter than any previous, mostly due to figuring out better ways to keep warm. My biggest concern is icy roads with tons of hills and blind turns, made even more narrow by snow.

    Maybe look at what any other winter cyclists in your area are doing. Internal hubs, single speeds, what kind of tires.

    If I lived up there I would probably save for a fat tire bike. I was staying at a friends house for a couple of days when I flew into a winter wonderland here and did not want to drive home in the snow and ice. My friend told me to use his Salsa Mukluk, and it was a blast on the snow and ice, much better than my 2" tires on my utility bike. Not as fast, but very cool to ride.

  8. #8
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isaiahc72 View Post
    I wasn't prepared either. But out of sheer doggedness, I didn't give up. I slipped allot on the ice but I'm still alive so I can't really complain. It was a good experience
    I had the luxury this year of being able to hole up whenever bad weather came and not come out again until the worst of the snow and ice melted.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    @ WisdomWarlord... just out of curiosity why a delta trike over say a tadpole or even a conventional bike? Just curious...

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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  10. #10
    Junior Member gregmxwll's Avatar
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    Taken down

    I went down, front tire went in rut, OTHB and broke collarbone. 4 weeks now. The real sad part is my wife it justified in her argument to have me stop winter biking.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    This has been my 8th winter on a bike and it was the coldest and snowiest winter so far. I was well prepared.
    Studded tires was a must have item this past winter. I don't take chances in winter, it's well worth it to spend a little extra cash and buy good clothing, studded tires and other gear, it will make your winter riding experience more pleasant and safer...If you fail to prepare then be prepared to fail.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    @ WisdomWarlord... just out of curiosity why a delta trike over say a tadpole or even a conventional bike? Just curious...

    Aaron
    The decision for delta over tadpole was split for me. Each has strengths and weaknesses in different areas. Then I found this one for $400, and not being able to find anything close to my limited budget in a tadpole.

    As for not a regular bikes, last winter, in the few short trips I did (only 150 miles for the entire winter), I had way too many times that I needed to stop and turn, and thus slipped and almost crashed and burned at low speed. Usually because of a driver looking me in the eye, nodding, then rolling into my path anyway. On a trike, I only have to concern myself with maneuvers and braking, not balance.
    An unexpected benefit is that I get more room from cars when I'm in traffic. I'm told by other trike riders that it's because of the extra width and strange look of the bike, drivers tend to respect the machine more. My experience has shown that to be true.

    I'm glad I have it, and will make it a more enjoyable ride, much better prepared for next winter! Hopefully that will be a waste of time, because I'm hoping to take a tour down to Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee next winter, so snow and ice will be less of a concern. But, if I'm sentenced to another winter of hard time in the north, I'll be ready this time!

  13. #13
    Senior Member MikeRides's Avatar
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    This winter is my first on the bike, although it's only been a month since I've been entirely car free (with a car readily available if I need it). Snow hasn't been a big issue for me, but the constant freezing temperatures and ice have been. I slid once on a patch of black ice when I had to stop fast for a idiot driver who waited until the last minute to signal to turn into his driveway but fortunately caught my self fast enough so I didn't fall. The cold has been rough but nothing extra layers can't fix, and looking at the extended forecast I don't see it getting any warmer regardless of the first day of spring being THIS Thursday

    To think, in late July we'll probably be complaining of the heat.....
    Want to ride fast? Just ride with a slower group.
    Want to feel like a kid again? Dust off that old bike hanging in your garage!

  14. #14
    Fearless Isaiahc72's Avatar
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    I honestly think that spring time will be the most challenging considering that's where the wind seems to come in. I don't mind snow, rain, or even ice. But wind can really give you a challenge.
    IC

  15. #15
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    This is my 3rd winter car-free. The first 2 were mild but this one was a bear. If I hadn't had the previous 2 'training' winters, I don't know if I would have made it through. Experience is great for making modifications.

  16. #16
    Senior Member kookaburra1701's Avatar
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    I work in medicine, so not coming into work is not an option for me. This winter was brutal, especially because we rarely get snow, so the city has no infrastructure to deal with it.

    This was my water bottle after a 30 minute ride home one night.



    I actually did pretty well, but I think I might pick up a pair of used skis or snowshoes to use next year if it happens again. The main annoyance was I got sort of a freeze-burn on my inner thighs where they rubbed the top tube, because my legs were less insulated than the rest of me. They felt really warm and hot while I was working hard to get through the snow, but about an hour after the ride, I'd get big red blisters.
    2014 Specialized Dolce, 1987 Schwinn Tempo, 2012 Windsor Kensington 8

  17. #17
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I had that happen, only the bottle was full so it spurted a little ice out the top. You might try an insulated water bottle. The kind they use to keep water cool, will also keep water warm.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member shipwreck's Avatar
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    One interesting thing I noticed the other day was that when it got up to almost 70F, it felt miserably hot! Seriously not looking forward to July after this winter of wool and face masks

  19. #19
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kookaburra1701 View Post
    The main annoyance was I got sort of a freeze-burn on my inner thighs where they rubbed the top tube, because my legs were less insulated than the rest of me.
    Can't picture the riding technique that allows the cyclist's inner thighs to rub the top tube. If that is a problem for you, you might consider a woman's frame such as these used by the women in my family.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WisdomWarlord View Post
    The decision for delta over tadpole was split for me. Each has strengths and weaknesses in different areas. Then I found this one for $400, and not being able to find anything close to my limited budget in a tadpole.

    As for not a regular bikes, last winter, in the few short trips I did (only 150 miles for the entire winter), I had way too many times that I needed to stop and turn, and thus slipped and almost crashed and burned at low speed. Usually because of a driver looking me in the eye, nodding, then rolling into my path anyway. On a trike, I only have to concern myself with maneuvers and braking, not balance.
    An unexpected benefit is that I get more room from cars when I'm in traffic. I'm told by other trike riders that it's because of the extra width and strange look of the bike, drivers tend to respect the machine more. My experience has shown that to be true.

    I'm glad I have it, and will make it a more enjoyable ride, much better prepared for next winter! Hopefully that will be a waste of time, because I'm hoping to take a tour down to Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee next winter, so snow and ice will be less of a concern. But, if I'm sentenced to another winter of hard time in the north, I'll be ready this time!
    Moving south won't guarantee a milder winter... trust me! We have had snow later in the year than ever and lots of bi-polar weather this year. I normally start putting things in my garden the middle of February in the cold frames, did not happen this year, they were buried under 8" of snow!

    My go to bike for winter weather riding when worked in snow/ice country was a 20" wheel with studded tires, or a MTB. I wonder if a tadpole trike would work better in slick conditions?

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  21. #21
    Senior Member kookaburra1701's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Can't picture the riding technique that allows the cyclist's inner thighs to rub the top tube. If that is a problem for you, you might consider a woman's frame such as these used by the women in my family.
    The riding style is called "being fat".
    2014 Specialized Dolce, 1987 Schwinn Tempo, 2012 Windsor Kensington 8

  22. #22
    ****** squegeeboo's Avatar
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    It was my worst winter in 7 years of commuting. I've been averaging about once a week. And still getting days in the single digits in the morning.
    In the words of Einstein
    "And now I think I'll take a bath"

  23. #23
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kookaburra1701 View Post
    The riding style is called "being fat".
    If the rubbing leg problem persists I suggest you consider my suggestion to use a bike frame style that wouldn't give you that problem.

  24. #24
    Senior Member kookaburra1701's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    If the rubbing leg problem persists I suggest you consider my suggestion to use a bike frame style that wouldn't give you that problem.
    No thanks I like being able to throw my bike over my shoulder to walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment and also not having to hold on to the handlebars when stopped to keep the bike upright. My legs only rub occasionally when shifting my weight to maneuver or whatever. It was just so cold that that brief contact caused mild burns.
    2014 Specialized Dolce, 1987 Schwinn Tempo, 2012 Windsor Kensington 8

  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Moving south won't guarantee a milder winter... trust me! We have had snow later in the year than ever and lots of bi-polar weather this year. I normally start putting things in my garden the middle of February in the cold frames, did not happen this year, they were buried under 8" of snow!

    My go to bike for winter weather riding when worked in snow/ice country was a 20" wheel with studded tires, or a MTB. I wonder if a tadpole trike would work better in slick conditions?

    Aaron
    We had minimum temps below zero just a couple nights ago, but there is a thawing trend. The 28 inch snow pack in my back yard is now just a few inches deep, and there is even a patch of bare ground. Our little pug dog is happy because she's no longer limited to the area of yard that we shoveled for her. I'm happy because I can walk on the sidewalks again, and the right-hand edges of the main streets are finally clear for riding in.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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