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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 11-18-05, 11:19 AM   #1
Rodney Crater
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Cold Weather Riding Lessons I Learned

This week the temps dipped down to 5 deg F and it did a bit of a high winded snow storm. This was my first plunge into riding in the snow with wind and cold temps.

I had purchased a thick yarn and felt facemask that had felt over the nose area but a hole under it to breath. The nice feature was it was long and I could tuck the collar deep under my coat collar. This was good. The bad part was the felt over the nose restricted my breathing!!! Even worse I could not clear my nose. When I tried it got all over the inside of the mask. Yuck! To make matters worse the result caused moisture to begin accumulating on my glasses so I could not see! Imagine, 3 miles not being able to breath and see properly. All this while at about 12 degrees F and snow drifts I had to fight that had blown across the trail. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack by the time I got to work.

The first lesson: get rid of the felt over the nose. I did this. I cut vertically through the nose piece(s) and tucked them to the sides. This left a nice felt lining around my face. It now works wonderfully. I have to attribute the thought to the gentleman on the icebike list who showed us his pictures of Alaska. In them he mentioned a 2 hour ride and he did not have a covering over his nose in the picture.

The second lesson: get rid of the ego. I was pushing myself too hard. As soon as I geared down the 15 speed to the low gears instead of the mid gears life became much more pleasant. I realized that yes it takes 10 more minutes to get to work but hey, I am not over-taxing myself and eventually I might pick up speed. Also, by slowing down, I saw 4 beautiful deer and a hawk overhead slowly cross my path on the way to work and one deer on the way home. It stopped just a little ways away from me because I had not scared it with a lot of speed.

I am now happily busting drifts and crawling across ice and look forward to the colder days ahead.
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Old 11-18-05, 11:32 AM   #2
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I love biking slowly enough to get a good look around you at all the rest of the world going by....

my winter riding lesson for all, and one a bit less zen than the above, is this:

practice your three point skid turns for graceful ice biking.
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Old 11-18-05, 11:54 AM   #3
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three point skid turn?
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Old 11-18-05, 12:17 PM   #4
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three point skid turn - foot down, steering reversed, back brake on, wheel thrown out.

foot down soon becomes optional and, depending on the consistency of your surface (packed white ice is best, not sheet) you will be steering around turns slung out like a evil kienvel at the north pole, one foot out but not down, SLOW reversed and laid back, through the corner. More stable than the 'minimal upright turn' method, It's super graceful when it goes well and downright entertaining to passerby when its not.

Give it a shot. Think motorcycles racing on ice.
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Old 11-18-05, 12:39 PM   #5
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would that method work well with studded tires?
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Old 11-18-05, 01:45 PM   #6
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studded tires you probably don't need the manuver too much, but try it, the icecross moto racers all have studs and they're doing 70. It works on any surface where you're losing traction.... wet leaves, ice, snow, greazy slop filled asphalt at intersections. The thing to watch for, is changes in surface slickness.


It gets easier the more you do it. Go find a neighborhood ice rink at the ballfields, and practice your skid stops going full bore. Then, practice changes in direction while balanced over the bike.
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Old 11-18-05, 02:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
three point skid turn - foot down, steering reversed, back brake on, wheel thrown out.

foot down soon becomes optional and, depending on the consistency of your surface (packed white ice is best, not sheet) you will be steering around turns slung out like a evil kienvel at the north pole, one foot out but not down, SLOW reversed and laid back, through the corner. More stable than the 'minimal upright turn' method, It's super graceful when it goes well and downright entertaining to passerby when its not.

Give it a shot. Think motorcycles racing on ice.
Is there any way to get a picture of this maneuver? I Googled "three point skid turn" and came up with naught.
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Old 11-18-05, 02:08 PM   #8
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Yes, leave the nose exposed!! I use a balaclava with an open face area. I can pull some of it up over my mouth if I want, and I do that sometimes. But the nose stays out.

When it gets quite cold, if you want to protect your nose and cheeks from frostbite, smear a little vaseline on them.
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Old 11-18-05, 02:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Yes, leave the nose exposed!! I use a balaclava with an open face area. I can pull some of it up over my mouth if I want, and I do that sometimes. But the nose stays out.

When it gets quite cold, if you want to protect your nose and cheeks from frostbite, smear a little vaseline on them.
Thanks Machka!, I was worried about that ( the frostbite ).
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Old 11-18-05, 02:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Think motorcycles racing on ice.
I wasted(?) two hours one February evening last winter on my freeride bike, running an imaginary moto circuit on a frozen pond in Unionville, trying to turn faster and faster circles until the tires would let go. The studs left an interesting track pattern, anyway, for the next group of skaters to ponder.
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Old 11-18-05, 02:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Yes, leave the nose exposed!! I use a balaclava with an open face area. I can pull some of it up over my mouth if I want, and I do that sometimes. But the nose stays out.

When it gets quite cold, if you want to protect your nose and cheeks from frostbite, smear a little vaseline on them.
its a fine line, I frostbit my left ear a little last week just where it was out from underneath my hat, it was maybe -10f. My nose was exposed too but I guess breath just keeps things a little warmer up front, up to a point. . .
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Old 11-18-05, 06:40 PM   #12
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If you can't throw the back end out into a hockey stop, you've probably got good enough traction you don't need a skid turn.

I can't explain it any better, and don't have any pictures, but it is absolutely the most graceful way to corner on ice. Can't really say much more than that. google 'motorcycle ice racing' pictures.

Last edited by Bekologist; 11-18-05 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 11-18-05, 08:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
If you can't throw the back end out into a hockey stop, you've probably got good enough traction you don't need a skid turn.

I can't explain it any better, and don't have any pictures, but it is absolutely the most graceful way to corner on ice. Can't really say much more than that. google 'motorcycle ice racing' pictures.
Is this what you mean? http://www.dieseljo.com/images_ice_p...ice_racing.jpg
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Old 11-18-05, 09:01 PM   #14
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There you go, it's a little different stance without power to the back wheel, but that's pretty much it. I even do it on slabby wet concrete here in Seattle, its a pretty fun way to turn if the roadway is slippery.
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Old 11-19-05, 05:47 PM   #15
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it's a handbrake turn, without the hand brake.
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Old 11-19-05, 06:02 PM   #16
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Still use the back brake to help you break traction and throw it into the skid. Looking at the motorcycle picture, its a little more upright, with the forward leg straight out on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke. Still using the same bit of 'comma' body english like that moto rider in the pic.

practice, practice, practice. Absolutely the most graceful way to corner on ice.
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Old 11-20-05, 01:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
I wasted(?) two hours one February evening last winter on my freeride bike, running an imaginary moto circuit on a frozen pond in Unionville, trying to turn faster and faster circles until the tires would let go. The studs left an interesting track pattern, anyway, for the next group of skaters to ponder.
hmm my mtb might get some use this winter after all...
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Old 11-21-05, 10:27 AM   #18
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Hello, just subscribing to the thread.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:39 AM   #19
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Here's a quick one: merino wool neck gaiter. It's the best! I can't believe I've did any winter stuff without one!
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Old 11-21-05, 10:53 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Still use the back brake to help you break traction and throw it into the skid. Looking at the motorcycle picture, its a little more upright, with the forward leg straight out on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke. Still using the same bit of 'comma' body english like that moto rider in the pic.

practice, practice, practice. Absolutely the most graceful way to corner on ice.


Last winter I meant to practice ice riding on this canal close to my place. but we could never get a consistent wave of cold for it to freeze enuf. This year they lowered the water lever a whole lot where there is only about 3-4 feet left so I might get my wish. I'll bring elbow and knee pads and have some fun.

Quick question: Steering is reversed as soon as the rear wheel skids correct? Or is it to adjust when necessary? Doesn't reversing steering feel counter-intuitive? It would definitively not be something I would do naturaly... Did you find it hard to "break" through that perspective?

Thanks for sharing the technique.

And that picture of the motercycle skid is just awesome.
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Old 11-21-05, 12:20 PM   #21
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Actually, BenyBen...you countersteer all of the time, especially taking corners. You don't normally notice it, since you are used to doing it. All this method does is take it to the extreme to produce the skid to corner. That's why it's so noticeable.

I would tend to go with the studded tires--and keep the weight (mine is a very substantial weight, without cargo)--"back" in order to help keep traction, and try to keep the extreme countersteering to a minimum. Indeed, as Rodney Crater said at the top of this thread, get rid of the ego! Winter weather, fast steering, and speed don't mix! The object of winter riding is to just get there...in one piece! Ahead of the "cagers" and the bus...and you often do that. Without trying...much.

Even as slow and steady as she must go when Nature does her freezing worst!
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Old 11-21-05, 01:14 PM   #22
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Cold weather riding lesson. During the first few snows and ice storms remember that cagers forget how slippery it is on the road. They go into some kind of mindless train of thought. Thinking they can stop on a dime.

LOOK OUT!

Stay safe and warm
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Old 11-29-05, 03:42 PM   #23
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If you are riding on ice with studded tires on a bicycle the three point turn will eventually rip the studs right off your tire and damage the tire too.

The back tire is not turning or spining as it is in a motorcycle power slide. The powerslide keeps the wear even on the whole tire.
On a bicycle the one or two studs sticking in the ice take the whole force of the back tire going sideways. Even one good skid can rip out a stud and wear the stud hole on a bicycle studded tire. Don't do it with studded tires on a BICYCLE.
If you are riding on ice with bicycle studs you can almost ride like pavement if the ice is hard and cold anyway. You can bank into turns, slam on the brakes and do wheelies.

If you don't have studded tires go crazy with slides on the ice.
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