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  1. #1
    Member cgosse's Avatar
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    First time Minnesota winter commuter

    I just moved to Uptown in Minneapolis, MN and commute to Bloomington via Penn Ave on a road bike almost daily for school. I am planning on converting an old Huffy Stalker Mtn. bike to a singlespeed for the winter commute, and wanted to know if anyone knows of pitfalls or safety issues I should address before I take one of the biggest plunges of my life. I just started commuting less than a month ago and find it to be a great way to get motivated for the day. The rest of the forums are great, I'm learning a lot. Thanks in advance for any advice!

  2. #2
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    This site has tons of information re: winter biking.

  3. #3
    File Not Found Pampusik's Avatar
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    For the one or two times during the winter where biking back home might not be the best option, your best insurance is to familiarize yourself with the #4 and #115 bus schedules. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Member cgosse's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information so far. The website really helped. I had never thought about the bus system as an alternative. I know other threads are talking about this, so I'll just read them instead of asking more questions that have already been asked.

  5. #5
    無くなった HereNT's Avatar
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    Layers are really your freind here. Temps vary a lot day to day.

    I'm not sure about a SS MTB for the winter, though. I seem to have the best results with skinny tires. Took a couple of winters to figure that out - I was using 700x32 cross tires on a fixed road conversion, and I would spray snow everywhere. Your results may vary.

    And get yourself out on to the lakes if you can. I'm planning on doing more ice riding this winter. I only got out on Calhoun a couple of times last winter, but it was a blast. Weird, but a blast. Ice makes the weirdest sounds when you ride on it. Our beers froze in about 10min one of the times we were out there...

  6. #6
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    I love fixed gear riding in the winter. I use old road bikes, as the MTB just couldn't do the deal in the snow. The one problem was on those nights I had to ride through a snow storm I wound up spending a little more time on the bike. Also picked up studded tires and an extra wheel to mount them on so I could swap them in and out. But you can also do what I did, get a second winter beater for doing the commute, and one for recreational riding.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

  7. #7
    Member cgosse's Avatar
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    I've heard a few comments on mountain bikes not being able to perform in the winter commute. What is wrong with them. Is it just that we're all used to riding our speedy road bikes, and then when we get to the winter we want to keep the pace high? Are there issues with mountain bikes specifically I should worry about, or is it just efficiency and speed I should look out for? Thanks again for the responses!

  8. #8
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    Actually an MTB does pretty well on snow pack, and the streets even snow. You don't inflate the tires fully so you have a bigger foot print more traction, but when it comes to riding in the snow, drifts and such those big tires get bogged down, the thin road tire tends to slice through the drifts, although it too will get bogged down. I've had it happen. Out by you in fact, well up in Plymouth. The wind blows a lot of snow onto the bike path that goes around the south end of Medicine Lake, and doesn't get plowed all the time, so I had to try and plow through that stuff, even on a fixed gear this was a chore.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

  9. #9
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    Mountain bike geometry works well in winter, and the wide bars are a big help. But in most conditions we see here in Mpls, on the street, the fat tires are a liability. IIRC most of the bike messengers are using Continental touring tires in 28 or 32mm.

    My son rode 7 miles to the U of M for 5 years and never missed a day due to weather. He ran a 700 x 30 Cyclocross tire in the front, and a 26" x 1.5" Conti knobby on the rear. On treacherously icy days he'd leave the MTB at home and borrow one of my recumbents.

    I biked 6 miles into downtown through 32 winters and the best 2 wheel setup I found was a long wheelbase recumbent with a 27 x 1-3/8" Tioga bloodound on the back and a 20 x 1-1/8 (451) Tioga Compe 3 BMX tire in the front.

    I didn't get time to build the ultimate winter commuter till after I retired - a faired, 2wd recumbent trike.
    http://bikesmithdesign.com/2wd_Trike/Fairing.html

    The Chain of Lakes, (Calhoun, Isles, Cedar and Brownie) are connected by channels so you can ride them all without leaving the ice.

    BTW last January I hosted a 20 mile ride on the chain of lakes*, and got 8 riders. Snow was only half an inch or less thick, and so hard you barely left tracks. The 2 wheelers had no grip problems and we couldn't spin out the trikes if we tried. Almost like the Bonneville Salt Flats, only much smoother. Photos here
    Last edited by MnHPVA Guy; 10-29-05 at 09:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    A lakes ride, that sounds cool. At night would be even cooler!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kuan
    A lakes ride, that sounds cool. At night would be even cooler!
    I've ridden Calhoun, at midnight, under a full moon, on one of those cloudless, high pressure nights that are cold but still. The lake was about 80% snow free and the downtown skyline was all lit up. Riding north, under the high moonlight, the bare ice was black and patches of snow were almost luminous.

    That was one ride I'll never forget. On a two wheeler I'd have been watching the surface and concentrating on staying upright. On a trike I could relax and appreciate my surroundings.

  12. #12
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    Do it man! Find the best route and rule your world!

  13. #13
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    I rode 5.43 miles fron S, Minneapolis to east bank of UMN for a couple of years. It is really a piece of cake to ride in Minneapolis because all the buses have bike racks and changing a flat tire when it is 8 deg is not fun.

    The first two peice of equipment I bought:
    Front and rear blinkies.

    Kevlar belted tires to combat all the glass on the street.

  14. #14
    Bikeman mtessmer's Avatar
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    You can do it! There has already allot been said so I won't dwell on it. I've been riding year around here in the cities for over 24 years. Good luck and have fun.
    "Biking for me is like walking with twelve foot strides"
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  15. #15
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Anyone riding tomorrow? Forecast say 7 for a low tonight...

  16. #16
    Bikeman mtessmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    Anyone riding tomorrow? Forecast say 7 for a low tonight...
    Probably, my coldest commute was -24F, I've been riding year around for over 24 years.
    "Biking for me is like walking with twelve foot strides"
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  17. #17
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    Anyone riding tomorrow? Forecast say 7 for a low tonight...
    Nope.

  18. #18
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    I've lurked around the forums for a while, thought this was a good time to pipe up...

    It's good to see another Mpls -> Bloomington commuter. I ride down Nicollet then take 90th over to Penn each day.

    This is my first winter bike commuting as well, so I'm kind of adjusting to the conditions as they present themselves. So far I've just been riding the 700x25 slicks that I had on my fixed-gear commuter during the summer, but my studded tires from Nashbar arrived today so I might be giving those a shot when we get some more ice on the roads (Wednesday morning was a little rough without salt/sand on all of the roads).

    Anyone have any advice for foot warmth? I've been using a pair of the Answer winter clipless boots ( kashmir ), but I don't think I have the right sock solution yet...

    Lake rides sound like a blast

  19. #19
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    I rode today. Not bad actually. MUST get better gloves. As for feet, I'm still on my Sidi summer shoes with mid-weight wool socks and have reached the limit. Lake 301's are on the way. That fozen slush has had me powersliding my way home. Studs will be on next week.
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  20. #20
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobr

    Anyone have any advice for foot warmth? I've been using a pair of the Answer winter clipless boots
    This site seems to be the authority on these things http://www.icebike.com/

    I am in the process of figuring this stuff out my self as I have a much longer commute this winter. The consensus on the commuting forum seems to be REI Smartwool socks with polyproplyene liners.

  21. #21
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    Going north on Penn Avenue from 82nd to 76th is a bit hard on the nerves, I have found, because of the right-most lanes that become right-turn lanes, forcing one to cut across traffic or else remain in a lane other than the right-most. My trip from 98th street to the north goes up Knox on the east side of Penn, through the back of Southtown, across Penn at the Southtown entrance (by the TCF bank), then along the frontage road to Xerxes where I cross 494, longer but less stressful. I have not explored a route north from 98th on the West side of Penn. A lot of the roads are cut off and don't go through, another example of how a minor amount of road planning could make a major difference in encouraging non-motorized transportation.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  22. #22
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobr
    Anyone have any advice for foot warmth?
    I have had success with insulated hiking boots. You can find them at Redwing (Megamall) for $180 or Payless for $30, depending on your budget, whether you want American-made or Chinese, whether or not you want to be able to re-sole them, your quality needs, etc.

    I start the season with the ordinary cotton colored athletic socks I wear in the summer. As the temperature drops, I go to wool dress socks. Then I add the synthetic wicking socks. Then I escalate to heavy (Smartwool-like) socks. I have gone down to zero degrees with this arrangement, but I have not yet gone lower than zero. I am hoping that this winter gives me at least one day to test myself.

    Just this week I discovered an area that I am not prepared for, which is cold rain/slush. When it is cold, I need the insulation, when it is wet I need waterproof. Currently, I can do one or the other, but not both. Therefore, my new requirement is that my winter boots be insulated AND waterproof. I am going shopping this weekend.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  23. #23
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgosse
    pitfalls or safety issues
    If the road has snow or ice, make turns slowly, trying to turn without leaning. Don't make sudden turns. Turning and leaning is when a lot of falls happen, in my limited experience.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  24. #24
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swwhite
    Going north on Penn Avenue from 82nd to 76th is a bit hard on the nerves, I have found, because of the right-most lanes that become right-turn lanes, forcing one to cut across traffic or else remain in a lane other than the right-most. My trip from 98th street to the north goes up Knox on the east side of Penn, through the back of Southtown, across Penn at the Southtown entrance (by the TCF bank), then along the frontage road to Xerxes where I cross 494, longer but less stressful. I have not explored a route north from 98th on the West side of Penn. A lot of the roads are cut off and don't go through, another example of how a minor amount of road planning could make a major difference in encouraging non-motorized transportation.

    My girlfriend has that same problem. She works south of 494, west of Penn; we live over by the river where minnehaha parkway hits hiawatha ave. Anyhow, I don't know her exact route, but she's been able to find some reasonable streets to ride down there. Keep your eyes open for other bikers; there are a lot of commuters in that area coming back to uptown / south mpls.

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