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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 12-27-07, 11:34 AM   #1
RadioFlyer
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Does anyone *road* bike?

And I mean specifically in winter conditions.

If you've ever road biked on a beautiful summer day, you know that groove you get into, it's almost zen-like.

Obviously, I'm not asking for y'alls help to re-create that in winter, but I'd like to try to get closer to that feeling. Right now, it just feels like I'm mt.biking on choppy streets.

So, if you've gotten close to the feeling/pattern/whatever on small ice bergs, mini-moguls, and all that winter has to offer, I'd love some advice on how you accomplished that.

Or am I just tilting at windmills and should just stay indoors?
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Old 12-27-07, 12:21 PM   #2
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I'm commuting on the roads on a road bike about 10 miles each way and I still try to do long rides (60+) when the roads are clear even if it's 20F degrees outside. I don't think Zen or day-dreaming is attainable when you have to pay so much attention to the road conditions (ice, slush, water, cars).

So, are you talking about BALLSY COLD weather or TREACHEROUS conditions? Or both?

Part of that good feeling comes from the fact that I'm able to ride in winter conditions. That may or may not be a motivator for you but...did I answer anything?
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Old 12-27-07, 12:32 PM   #3
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I'm commuting on the roads on a road bike about 10 miles each way and I still try to do long rides (60+) when the roads are clear even if it's 20F degrees outside. I don't think Zen or day-dreaming is attainable when you have to pay so much attention to the road conditions (ice, slush, water, cars).

So, are you talking about BALLSY COLD weather or TREACHEROUS conditions? Or both?

Part of that good feeling comes from the fact that I'm able to ride in winter conditions. That may or may not be a motivator for you but...did I answer anything?
Thanks so much for your reply. Lately, the only riding I'm doing is my 15 mile roundtrip commute on my mtb with nokian studs.

It's not the cold, that's easy to deal with, but the 'treacherous' conditions. And it's not that it's 'dangerous', but rather that I can't get into any sort of rhythm when the roads aren't dry.

I suppose from your post...
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Part of that good feeling comes from the fact that I'm able to ride in winter conditions.
...the best thing I can do for myself is change my mindset. Find a different kind of love in the conditions... tho I'm not sure what that love is, yet.
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Old 12-27-07, 01:57 PM   #4
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I "road" bike in the winter same as I "road" bike in the summer, just with more clothes.

Same rules apply regardless of the season: if it's precipitating, or if there's standing water (or snow, or ice) on the roads, I don't ride.
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Old 12-27-07, 02:02 PM   #5
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I "road" bike in the winter same as I "road" bike in the summer, just with more clothes.

Same rules apply regardless of the season: if it's precipitating, or if there's standing water (or snow, or ice) on the roads, I don't ride.
You don't bike in summer rain? You should try it, it's a great and different experience.

I don't know where you live, but for many in the winter forum, snow and ice is a part of life and I think it would be a bummer to not ride at all several months a year.
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Old 12-27-07, 02:10 PM   #6
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I know a local guy who used to ride his 80's vintage road bike all year long, and commuted up to Eagle River and back every day along the highway! I guess he was able to keep the zen feeling until he skidded out or got side-swipped.
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Old 12-27-07, 02:19 PM   #7
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My CX bike has road studs for this very purpose. It is my road bike once the slop starts to fly. Generally, I pursue mostly clear pavement and mainline routes for this. This strategy means waiting a good 24-48 hours until after it's stopped snowing.
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Old 12-27-07, 02:41 PM   #8
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I fail to understand why "zen = road bike." In fact i usually consider my mountain bike rides out into the vast, open countryside on unpaved roads to be WAY more zen like than any road bike on paved roads, regardless of the season.

Being on my mountain bike 10 miles away from the nearest paved road, with the sound of new snow crunching under your tires and the smell of chimney smoke in the air, is pretty zen like as well. But the road bike, with cars whizzing around you and the boring pavement rolling beneath the tires isn't nearly as relaxing to me.
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Old 12-27-07, 07:29 PM   #9
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I fail to understand why "zen = road bike." In fact i usually consider my mountain bike rides out into the vast, open countryside on unpaved roads to be WAY more zen like than any road bike on paved roads, regardless of the season.

Being on my mountain bike 10 miles away from the nearest paved road, with the sound of new snow crunching under your tires and the smell of chimney smoke in the air, is pretty zen like as well. But the road bike, with cars whizzing around you and the boring pavement rolling beneath the tires isn't nearly as relaxing to me.
I pack my girlfriend onto the back of our Xtracycle and we cruise around through the snow and around all the paths here, its quite nice. No sort of "zen biking zone" involved at a total vehicular weight of about 155lbs, but its quite serene to just be able to ride in the quiet together. Winter is best enjoyed off the road, I think.
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Old 12-27-07, 11:49 PM   #10
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I ride a road bike in the winter, but it depends on the snow conditions. If it's warm, sloppy and wet, I use my MTB, but I prefer my Peugeot if it's colder. I only get nervous when the road is off camber.
I used to ride 15 miles every other day, all winter, even in -30C temps, and sometimes every day, but I'm in warmer climes now, so it's usually between 0C and -10C. It doesn't get below -20C where I am now, and so far this winter, not below-10C.
I also ride forestry roads on my MTB in the snow, and that has it's own special feeling of silence and solitude, but I really prefer my road bike.
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Old 12-28-07, 12:39 AM   #11
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Depending on where you ride and the conditions there's a certain serenity to winter that doesn't exist in the summer. Even though my winter biking is almost all commuting in an urban setting, I stick mostly to trails and on my way home there's often very little other bike traffic and I can get into a groove. The problem is that I'm often in too much of a hurry to appreciate it as much as I would otherwise.

I think you just have to accept that riding in the winter is a different experience and make sure to exploit the differences that you enjoy the most.
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Old 12-28-07, 09:43 AM   #12
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You don't bike in summer rain? You should try it, it's a great and different experience.
I have tried it, and I'm afraid I don't share your assessment of the experience! Of course, I don't even like walking in the rain.

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I don't know where you live, but for many in the winter forum, snow and ice is a part of life and I think it would be a bummer to not ride at all several months a year.
I live in New York City, so snow & ice on the roads only keeps me off the bike maybe 12 days (that I would be riding) out of the entire year.
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Old 12-28-07, 01:36 PM   #13
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Getting back to the original question about <i>road</i> riding in the winter... yes I do. I used to set a cold/wind limit of 20 degrees F or 20 mph wind, that's a good starting point for comfort. Plan on shorter rides since you will get cold and uncomfortable somewhere on your body, especially as you are learning and testing each time what works to keep you warm and what doesn't. A good wind barrier layer in front will keep you comfortable, but also dress so that you can vent off heat and moisture.

As CastIron pointed out its best to wait 48 hours or so for the roads to clear and dry off. Also don't ride a bike you care too much about, all the salt and gritty debris will beat up a bike pretty quick.

In the past year or two I have gotten a lot of new cold weather clothing for cycling which I use mostly for commuting and snow riding. I have also built up a fixed geared bike which should slow me down and keep me warmer on descents. With all this together I plan on breaking that 20/20 rule and seeing how cold I can go comfortably. That being said, most of the time I'll choose other winter sports. If snow conditions are good for xc skiing, I'll do that instead. If they are good for snowbiking, I'll do that. I mean, I have the whole rest of the year to ride on the roads.
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Old 12-28-07, 07:25 PM   #14
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I commute pretty much every day on the road, and I'll occasionally get out for road rides in the winter. Once I get out to the highway, it's gravel that is my main concern as opposed to snow or ice. I used to do it more often when I was racing, but that was many moons ago and I don't feel the need to get the miles in during the winter. When I road ride solo in the summer, I have a bad tendency to push myself pretty hard. Ideally, HR goes up, brain shuts off. Winter road rides are different, since I usually do them on my SS, and I ride a lot slower. If my hands and feet are warm, then I can daydream a bit about stuff... and junk. I was out for an hour today, and did an on-road/off-road thing through a dog park, then down by the river, through some nice communities and then back home along my normal commuting route. I don't think I thought about anything - I just went on autopilot. I was constantly going from snow to ice to bare road, but I didn't think about it.

Is that Zen-ish?
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Old 12-28-07, 07:51 PM   #15
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I find that riding in the rain in the summer on a road bike is EXHILERATING! I ride FASTER due to body temperature regulation and cooling AND h2o LUBRICATION!!!

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I have tried it, and I'm afraid I don't share your assessment of the experience! Of course, I don't even like walking in the rain.



I live in New York City, so snow & ice on the roads only keeps me off the bike maybe 12 days (that I would be riding) out of the entire year.
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Old 12-28-07, 09:30 PM   #16
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I'm starting this year, I'll be doing the century a month. I commute every day but so far I've only done a 60km winter ride. Last night I did 45km in freezing rain with a few cm of freezing rain on the roads, no zen there, just concentrating on how to stay upright.
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Old 12-28-07, 10:49 PM   #17
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I ride a fixed gear road bike during the winter. Mostly cold rain and light snow conditions. No Zen like feelings though. I love riding in the rain for the speed/scary fun of it.
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Old 12-28-07, 11:19 PM   #18
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I pack my girlfriend onto the back of our Xtracycle and we cruise around through the snow and around all the paths here, its quite nice. No sort of "zen biking zone" involved at a total vehicular weight of about 155lbs, but its quite serene to just be able to ride in the quiet together. Winter is best enjoyed off the road, I think.
Wait,.. what?

You+Girlfriend+Bike= 155lbs? Are you both 12 years old or something?
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Old 12-29-07, 09:50 AM   #19
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When the roads are clear. This includes residential roads and they take forever to clear. Riding main arterials is not my idea of fun. I will ride them when I commute and that is all.
Commuting is not that amusing this time of year for me. It is below my temperature tolerance.
However, I am going to make an attempt to commute a couple times a week in the new year.

With snow and such I prefer riding the trails on my MTB.
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