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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 11-20-07, 08:19 AM   #1
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Your biggest concern riding in the winter

I've watched the forums regularly, and haven't seen a thread where our biggest concerns are thrown together, a lot of threads offering some of those concerns, but not all at once.

Having commuted through winter for a few years now (has it really been close to 10 years?) I have experienced a lot of the effects of winter riding and how to counter it, but my biggest concern are my feet and my core temp. I hate when my feet get so cold that they are almost numb, and prickly. It hasn't happened in a while, it did a lot on my 50 mile commute, mostly on the ride home with tired feet from standing all shift.

I have had my core temp drop twice, and it was really fing scary. It made me think about those below 0F days, and did I really need to be out in that sort of weather. I learned how to keep it at bay, like not drinking cold fluids, or take a break and stand around letting my body cool down, while drinking a cold water bottle, two incidents that I'd been like the dude in Jeremiah Johnson, frozen with his rifle still in his hands.

Okay your turn.
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Old 11-20-07, 09:04 AM   #2
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My biggest worry is making the wrong call when it comes to clothing. I can't be comfortable when I leave the house, else I'll be too hot down the road. So I leave the house feeling cold, and I always worry about getting a mile or two away and realizing that I didn't dress warmly enough. Most of my rides in winter are short, but some are longer, and it's then that I worry.

When I do go wrong, it is usually my feet that get cold, or my hands, or sometimes my face when I fail to protect it adequately from the wind.

Most of my winter riding is in town, so the downside is low. I can always duck into a building to get warm. But Sunday I got out for a ride in the woods, and it did occur to me while riding that I should have packed along more gear "just in case". I was warm enough while peddling, but had I crashed and injured myself, I'd have been in a heap-o-trouble. Usually I do pack more gear. Sunday I just got lazy. First winter ride of the season and all.
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Old 11-20-07, 09:29 AM   #3
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and cold toes sometimes.
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Old 11-20-07, 09:36 AM   #4
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The feet, having enough warmth during breakdowns, the always present threat from vehicular traffic.
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Old 11-20-07, 09:36 AM   #5
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Being able to see, what with all the crud that winds up in the air from the weather and armoured personnel carries on the road, my glasses usually wind up blinding my every so often and sometimes it's not easy to find a place to stop to clean them, especially when you can't see.

I have one of those clear plastic face shields that show up in people's workshops that may be pressed into service this winter if I can't come up with a better idea.
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Old 11-20-07, 09:39 AM   #6
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My biggest concern is mechanical trouble of any kind. Roadside repairs are a pain and often not doable in cold winter conditions. I could imagine changing (not patching) a flat inner tyre, but finding whatever caused the flat from the inside of the outer tyre might be impossible, unless it was something really obvious. I might be able to shorten a broken chain, or to come up with a quick-and-dirty fix for a broken spoke to be able to limp home. But that's about it.

I once tried to help a guy who had a freehub with too thick (summer) lubricant in it. The pawls would not engage due to the lubricant turning into a sticky goo at -30C weather. The hub rotated freely in both directions. I was able to tell him the reason, but there's not much one can do to fix it on the road.

To err is human. To moo is bovine.

Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?

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Old 11-20-07, 10:40 AM   #7
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my biggest concern is when the road slush melts and cars kick it up into balls and mounds and ruts and then it refreezes by the next morning when i'm trying to traverse it.
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Old 11-20-07, 11:07 AM   #8
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Turning through an intersection and sliding out into the intersection.
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Old 11-20-07, 04:13 PM   #9
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City streets narrowing due to snow plowed against the curb, and, cars emerging from between snowpiles, for instance, backing out of driveways.
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Old 11-20-07, 04:36 PM   #10
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My biggest concern is the one that is in front of me.
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Old 11-20-07, 06:30 PM   #11
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I have two big concerns with winter cycling:

1) Freezing my extremities (fingers or toes) ... I mean really freezing them to the point where I will have to go through "burn treatment" type of treatments or possibly amputation. I burnt my left foot to the bone in 2001, and I know that if I freeze my feet, they will go through a very similar treatment and recovery process. That is something I never, never, ever want to go through again. Ever.

Example of severely frostbitten hands -

2) Freezing to death.

I take a lot of precautions to prevent both of these concerns, however, there was a century ride I did last March which nearly caught me. When I started the ride it was about 0C, and the prediction was that it was supposed to go up to +8C, so I drove out to a rather remote little town, parked my car, and cycled south 40 kms (25 miles), and north, back to my car 40 kms. That was the warm loop and it only got to about +4C. Then I cycled north 40 kms and south 40 kms to complete the century. Only thing was, as I started getting a bit closer to the turn around point a cold weather system moved in, and by the time I reached the turn around point it was -11C and windy ... and I was not dressed for -11C! With 17 kms to go, it was -17C, quite windy, getting dark, and my water had frozen solid. And I was out there all alone. That was a scary 17 kms because I just kept thinking that if something happened to my bicycle, I couldn't do a thing but walk. And walking 17 kms in those conditions, dressed like I was, was a recipe for disaster.

That experience was a little reminder to me to always be prepared.

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Old 11-20-07, 06:59 PM   #12
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Old 11-20-07, 07:01 PM   #13
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cold feet, even with booties
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Old 11-20-07, 07:10 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ViperZ View Post

Yeah. I'm not all that afraid of the cold. Granted the coldest we get is around -5F, but what concerns me is a sudden impact with the ground or something else in these temps.
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Old 11-20-07, 07:10 PM   #15
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My biggest concern is ice I don't see. Last winter I was turning from the road into a parking lot while it was below freezing. The entrance to the parking lot had a lip on it that I normally took at about 45 degrees to my front wheel. This time, there was just enough ice on the lip of the curb there to spill the bike from underneath me. I went down on my right shoulder and slid for a few feet away from the bike. My shoulder still gives me trouble, from time to time. Now whenever it gets cold, I try to take the lips into driveways straight-on.

Oh, and fashion.
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Old 11-20-07, 08:06 PM   #16
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My biggest concerns--having had them come close a few times--don't change in winter:
Getting creamed by a drunk/stolen car.
Getting killed for being in the wrong place/time.

Winter just makes this dynamic a bit more different. Studs, carrying an extra layer or two, and CAB FARE (always a spare $20 on board) mitigate many of the winter part of the worries.
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Old 11-20-07, 08:40 PM   #17
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Mostly getting run over by a plow.
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Old 11-21-07, 11:29 AM   #18
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Where I ride I'm never too far from a warm building so I'm not overly concerned about the cold. I'm worried about dumping my bike in traffic with the car behind me not being able to stop.
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Old 11-21-07, 11:48 AM   #19
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having a motor vehicle slid into me.
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Old 11-21-07, 12:21 PM   #20
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black ice, cold toes
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Old 11-21-07, 01:02 PM   #21
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a wet bike, cause when it freezes over the mechanisms are stuck, i did the WD40 treatment... didn't help so much.
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Old 11-21-07, 01:05 PM   #22
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1.Frost bite

2. Motorist not thawing out their windshields before they start, while they are peering through that little hole at the bottom of there windshields.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words.
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Old 11-21-07, 03:00 PM   #23
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not enough daylight
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Old 11-21-07, 06:51 PM   #24
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Ice I suppose. Like the kind that makes your bike kick out from under you with the smallest touch of the handlebars.
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Old 11-21-07, 09:22 PM   #25
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#1 is frozen toes and digits, followed by facial frostbite, followed by my summertime favourite - getting squished by a vehicle. Crashing is not as big deal for me in the winter, since I'm wearing extra gear and there's less chance of road rash. Crashing and getting squished by a vehicle is another story.
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