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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 12-15-07, 12:01 PM   #1
Sixty Fiver
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True Confessions...

They say that confession is good for the soul...

Now I know that we all must take some pride in the fact that we are a pretty hard core bunch to be riding in what most cyclists would consider to be the most extreme conditions and figure that the percentage of cyclist who keep riding when the snow falls might number no more than 1%.

Even the non-cyclists I work with have expressed that they are impressed that I just keep rolling no matter what mother nature throws at us and I can't wait until it's -30 C and we have a few more feet of snow to quiet the naysayers.

My figures on ridership might be a little skewed since I roll with a crew that keeps riding no matter what and we're having a party tonight where I expect that my friend's garage will be full of bikes since none of us are driving.

I tell people that I really enjoy riding in the winter and because I am well equipped and have bikes built for winter riding it really isn't a hardship but I have a dirty little secret.

Every morning I go out and get the bike ready for my commute or errands I have to look at all the other girls that are parked in my shop and my eyes usually linger the longest on Bridgette, my 1962 Peugeot fixed gear.

I um... really can't wait for spring so that I might get my best girl back out on the road and enjoy clear roads and sunshine and warmth and continue this love affair that started back in May when I built her.

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Old 12-15-07, 04:55 PM   #2
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So it's just me then ?

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Old 12-15-07, 08:24 PM   #3
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No. I'm with you on that. This is my first winter riding and I am unable to use the bike as often as I would like. While I somewhat enjoy riding in the winter (once I can get motivated to go the first kilometre), I too am looking forward to when the skies are sunny and I can use my "nice" bike again. It will be a while coming though.

Last edited by tuvok; 12-16-07 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 12-15-07, 09:28 PM   #4
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Every year on here people espouse how much they love riding in the snow etc. I don't doubt their sincerity but wonder if it isn't exagerated a bit. I for one don't love riding in the snow/ice at all. In fact i sometimes hate it.

Cold is a different issue. I can tolerate it and really don't view riding in the cold as that big of a deal, but throw in cold, ice, snow and often dark, and then my enthusiasm wanes. I mainly ride in the winter because i love to ride bikes. It gets cold here for several months a year and if i am going to ride, i am going to ride in the cold.

But make no mistake, give me a 60 degree Spring morning with clear skies and no wind. I'll take that EVERY time.
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Old 12-16-07, 02:01 AM   #5
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I like riding in the snow, but it'd be nice to have a nicer bike to do it on. I too, would feel bad about putting the Peugeot out in the snow, or even the Fuji, but they sure are getting lonely down there in the basement with no one to ride them..
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Old 12-16-07, 01:53 PM   #6
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I'm with you, I don't mind riding the winter bike but I love riding my road bike.

Obligatory Edmonton dig: The roads and paths are pretty much clear down here in sunny Calgary, I put the snow bike away last week and may not need it till next month. But I hear the cross country skiing is way better up north.
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Old 12-17-07, 05:31 PM   #7
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What I really love is that first day of riding after a fast breakup, when the slicks are on the summer bike. Suddenly riding is three times easier and faster. Plus I can actually COAST long distances without having to fight through chunder, rime ice, biscuit dough and sloosh.
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Old 12-17-07, 05:48 PM   #8
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I like riding while the flakes are falling but after a major dump and the plows have done their thing, riding becomes a bit more dangerous from traffic. I use my MB mostly in the winter and my rides are usually slow and grueling but come spring when I dust off the road bike I will fly. Riding in the winter is a great experience that just adds to an already great spring, summer,fall season.

Then again I rarely have to deal with less than -12c/10f . So I don`t have to deal with the brutal cold that some of you get.
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Old 12-17-07, 07:21 PM   #9
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I miss my Bridgestone fixed conversion!! Riding gears still feels weird!

I'm having fun riding in the snow, but man it is HARD work. 26" fat tires + snow + ice = exhausting. I'll probably have to buy a bigger chainring/smaller cog for the Bridgestone by the time spring rolls around!!
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Old 12-17-07, 07:33 PM   #10
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Yeah... the legs do get stronger.
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Old 12-17-07, 11:51 PM   #11
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I really do like riding in snow. Snow. Powder, with a light crust of ice on top. 3" or so of it, and it's better if I get first tracks. I love it. I really, really do. That's not an exaggeration.

Now, the rest of winter? Slush? Ice? Temps in the teens, single digits, below zero Fahrenheit? I tolerate them because my bike is still usable and I really don't think my Focus could do any better in it. My Explorer probably could, but it's not worth it for my commute.

If I wasn't a bike commuter, I would probably rarely ride in winter. Maybe a few times, just to get first tracks in some powder on occasion.

Honestly, I miss my Trek 1200 too. I miss the miles I can put on it. I hate riding a few miles to the bus on my MTB when just weeks ago I was riding all the way to work on a nimble, efficient road bike.

But, at the same time, this makes my cow-orkers think I am certifiably insane, and they leave me alone so I can get my work done in peace. That's priceless.
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Old 12-21-07, 09:17 AM   #12
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..biscuit dough...
This is my favorite description of conditions, and maybe least favorite to ride through.
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Old 12-27-07, 10:33 AM   #13
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I usually love riding in the winter, once the cold is set in and temps are consistently below freezing. Especially the first few weeks, it's like learning how to ride all over again. However, we've had this warm streak lately that has made riding miserable. Slushy, wet, sometimes it's raining when I ride home. I like dry cold, fluffy snow, roads that crunch beneath your tires, not this snotty crap.

In addition, I hate riding the trainer. I ride it just to remember what my road bike feels like, and because it's a heck of a good workout. But in reality, it's like drinking diet when you want the real thing, or eating low fat when only real fat will do. It just reminds me of what I'm not doing and makes me wish for spring...
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Old 12-27-07, 10:46 AM   #14
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I'd rather ride in snow than rain, anytime. I never thought winter riding would be fun, but my first ride home in the snow I averaged 8 miles an hour, and I laughed the whole way home, it was truly a blast. I hate winter, and I hate snow, but I must admit, I'm looking forward to my next snow ride, it was truly a blast. That being said, I miss pushing that road bike and trying to hold 19 or 20mph for an average speed on my little commute as well (I have an Iron Horse mtn bike with studded tires for my winter riding, and I don't think it would hit 20 if I dropped it from the top of a building ), and come spring I'll be very happy to be doing that instead.

Joe
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Old 12-27-07, 11:27 AM   #15
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I am a winter rider. I don't say that because of the season, it's mainly because winters aren't really that bad. Snow, ice and wintery rain keep me off the bike, but none of those conditions last very long.

Most people don't realize how mild winters are on Cape Cod because they are not out in the weather very much.
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Old 12-27-07, 11:53 PM   #16
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It hasn't gotten REALLY cold here yet and I've adjusted to riding in the dark. Snow is a mixed bag. With my studded tires I prefer hardpack to bare pavement. A bit of loose snow going down hill is fun. Having to go through snowy side streets with tires that I keep nearly flat for traction is a lot of work.

On the one hand I do look forward to when I can get the road bike out again but I truly enjoy winter, at least up until March. So I'm content to be on the MTB for a couple more months.
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Old 12-28-07, 06:45 PM   #17
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I use my cyclocross race bike as my commuter. When the snow gets to much, I can always shoulder the bike & run for it. I use a backpack to carry my clothes & junk. Keep it safe out there boys!
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Old 12-29-07, 11:14 PM   #18
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I love riding on snow and ice, because they help improve one's bike handling, and it's a huge rush. Nothing quite like a steep downhill with sharp turns, covered with ice and slush to keep one on their toes I find that with long rides on dry pavement, I become a little zoned out; which is cool, gives me time to think about things, but it's good to have variety. No time for zoning out when either tire could break loose at any moment.

Having said that, I'm not a fan of the cold. I prefer temps in the -5 to -10 degree Celcius range. Main problem is I haven't found anything to keep my hands warm enough for temperatures much lower than that, not even my ski gloves. A good set of pogies should help, which I'll probably get for next season.

I think it's really a novelty thing though. After a long, warm summer, conducive to easy biking, it feels about time to change things up with some winter mayhem. Then towards the end of winter, I get a little tired of the lower speeds which are consequential of said mayhem, so I'm in the mood for more ear-popping summer speeding. And so the cycle continues.....

(nice Peugeot BTW)
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Old 12-29-07, 11:21 PM   #19
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I give you folks a lot of credit! On the few occasions I've been treated to riding in the snow, it's been a blast. Having said that, I don't deal with snow very often where I am, just lots of rain. Fresh snow is a hoot, though!

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Old 12-31-07, 01:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmoline
..biscuit dough...
This is my favorite description of conditions, and maybe least favorite to ride through.This is my favorite description of conditions, and maybe least favorite to ride through.

2nd!
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Old 12-31-07, 07:37 PM   #21
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OK. Here's my confession.

I hate the cold.

But I'm training for my second Ironman that will happen at the end of August so I must get out there.

Was out there today for 62 miles ttoday after not putting in any "long" rides for a couple months and was slower than a sea slug.

My sweet, polite riding buddy claims that people are just slower in the winter....Has anyone else heard this or is he just trying to be nice?

(it WAS my first ride not using my summer race wheels...)

and I have run two marathons and done one Oly tri since the Ironman...my run times have been pretty good... but other than what appears to me to be the cold, hard truth (I'm a slowpoke since I haven't ridden long in awhile) I wonder if there's any truth to the claim that people tend to ride slower in the winter.
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Old 01-04-08, 09:04 PM   #22
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I wonder if there's any truth to the claim that people tend to ride slower in the winter.
Cold air is more dense than warm air, which increases wind resistance. This makes a pretty big difference. Cold air also makes breathing more difficult (I find it actually stings my lungs and makes me extremely uncomfortable if I'm booting it below zero without my balaclava, which helps to warm incoming air). And most people exercise less in the winter than the summer. So yeah, there are reasons why one would be slower in the winter. I know I am
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Old 01-05-08, 07:40 PM   #23
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I'm still commuting 15 miles to work & back most days of the week. I was so pleased with the bike path conditions on yesterday's ride in to work, I almost wrote a letter to the newspaper to pay a compliment. Then, the ride back was horrible. The city snowplows had covered the path with road snow ranging from 3 to 4 inches in depth. This snow is not like fresh fallen snow, but compacted ice chunks and corn snow. My normal 50 minute commute turned into an 1 hour plus. Still, it's better than driving and I'm getting stronger and it was still pretty warm at 12 F.
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Old 01-05-08, 09:02 PM   #24
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Speed depends on a lot of factors but winter riding does tend to be slower as you are usually wearing more clothes and are less aero and cold air is denser than warm air which adds to resistance... in climates such as ours winter riding also warrants the use of a "winter" bike and these tend to be heavier mtbs and not road bikes.

We've been having some incredibly nice weather and the roads are very clear with very little slush / ice so I got to take out my other winter bike... the one that doesn't mind cold and hardpack but really hates slush as it screws up the rear derailer and the bikes ability to shift into high gear problematic.

For a little while today I felt like it was summer in Alberta.



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Old 01-06-08, 02:15 PM   #25
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Cold air is more dense than warm air, which increases wind resistance. This makes a pretty big difference. Cold air also makes breathing more difficult (I find it actually stings my lungs and makes me extremely uncomfortable if I'm booting it below zero without my balaclava, which helps to warm incoming air). And most people exercise less in the winter than the summer. So yeah, there are reasons why one would be slower in the winter. I know I am
There's also the issue of more layers of clothes, increased weight and additional resistance to movement. Around here, wind is much higher in the winter, and finally, lots of people use different tires in winter which also leads to slowness.
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