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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 09-16-08, 11:11 PM   #1
Kenay
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Slow Down

I am trying to plan work schedules around my bike commute and I am worried about how much longer it will take me to ride 16 miles. Most of it is on bike path too-and I dont know the winter condition of it yet.
Anyone know the average safe speed for mild winter travel? I can keep at between 18-25 mph on the nice days. I am worried I will be limited to 10 mph on the bad days. This would make me late for work or school....
Any advice or experience would be appreciated!
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Old 09-16-08, 11:14 PM   #2
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In Winnipeg, my 6.7 km commute in the summer took me 20 minutes. It took me 30 minutes in the winter.

And there's no reason why you should be late ... just get up earlier.
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Old 09-26-08, 09:05 PM   #3
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Winter speed on the bike path is really dependent on conditions. You can move pretty quickly down a well maintained pathway. Unmaintained pathways may be impossible to ride. Foot traffic after a snowfall can leave frozen footprint craters along the path that will really slow you down. In some cases it will be easier to ride off the path in the deeper snow. I had one path on my commute where they often did not plow a 300 meter stretch in the middle. There was no way to know the condition of that stretch until I actually got to it. Twice I had to carry the bike through drifts. I was late for work those days. A few inches of snow on a well maintained pathway will not slow you down much at all (actually rather fun). Several inches of snow and it can be much tougher depending on your tires and bike. When the front wheel starts to skate out to the sides your speed will drop.

I live in Calgary were we get a moderate amount of snow mixed with several melts during the winter. My summer commutes are usually around 40 minutes, and winter around 50 minutes. On REALLY bad days it could take me 90 minutes. On the bad days I was still the first one to arrive at the office since the cagers were all stuck in the snow
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Old 09-27-08, 12:50 AM   #4
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frozen cratered bike paths = use the grass
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Old 09-27-08, 09:27 AM   #5
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hmm... i think in really bad winter conditions, it might be quicker to just bike the city roads, instead of using bike paths.

as soon as it's deep snow, the type that even car gets stuck in, it'll definitely better to ride on city streets on those days

biking on light snow is no problem on a bike path, if cars can drive without waiting for the city crew clean up, then so we can as well.

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Old 09-27-08, 11:15 AM   #6
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and take the main roads when you do that because the side streets are plowed last.
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Old 09-27-08, 06:44 PM   #7
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and take the main roads when you do that because the side streets are plowed last.
Sometimes the sidewalks on the residential streets are the first to be cleared
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Old 09-27-08, 07:25 PM   #8
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The main roads are first to be cleared.... and in a real snow event are so clogged with stationary cars to be useless.

Unless rush hour is over I take back roads and paths. It's easier to push through a few inches of snow that to line up behind 130 cars waiting for a rear-wheel-drive-no-snow-tire driver to roostertail his way up a 8-percent rise.
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Old 09-28-08, 07:48 AM   #9
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Around here (minneapolis) the snow is cleared on the commuter paths before the roads, Many mornings for me the worst parts is getting to and from the commuter path.

As far as the original question, I've found that my deep winter commute takes about 20% longer on average than my summer commute. Riding studded tires, slippery conditions, and wearing a lot of clothes in dense cold air, it just takes a bit longer. I simply plan for it.
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Old 09-29-08, 08:59 AM   #10
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^^ It all adds up. I think it's about an extra 5 minutes prep/dress time and another 1-2 minutes per mile depending on conditions.

Heavy snow doubles it.
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Old 09-29-08, 11:15 AM   #11
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The main roads are first to be cleared.... and in a real snow event are so clogged with stationary cars to be useless.
Bus routes are a very good thing to know, around here and in other places I've biked, they are the first to get cleared, and they are not always the same routes that the majority of cars use. With the added bonus, of hopping on the bus if you break down
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Old 09-30-08, 11:57 PM   #12
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LOL
bus road doesn't need to get cleaned, because the bus rolls over them so often, it melts away.
just like major highways for car, in any snow event, the cleanest roads are always the highways, because so much traffic rolls over it, there is no chance for the snow to form.

but yes, it is good to ride on bus dedicated lanes
mainly because, at least in my city, all the bus lanes, are actually Legal bike lanes, the street signs has Bus, Taxi, Bike, and another vehicle in the sign i think for emergency workers like ambulance, fire, and cops.

so riding a bus lane is rather safe, bus driver usually yield to you.... but can't say the same for taxi guys.

Taxi guys always seems to want to run you down with their right side mirror intentionally. >.<
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Old 10-03-08, 06:08 PM   #13
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just like major highways for car, in any snow event, the cleanest roads are always the highways, because so much traffic rolls over it, there is no chance for the snow to form.
I live in Toronto too and this is not true. Our highways are plowed by fleets of trucks driving in chevron formation. Rather awesome I must say.
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Old 10-05-08, 01:10 AM   #14
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The worst time for winter cycling is the day following a heavy snowfall, before crews have a chance to clear it away. Until it's cleared, there's a thick layer of soft and powdery snow, with a slippery layer of packed snow underneath. Cycling on this surface is like cycling on sand. It's possible but it takes a lot of energy. Balancing isn't always easy. Once the crews have cleared the fresh snow, cycling on the packed layer underneath is easy.
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Old 10-05-08, 05:49 AM   #15
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I really am amazed that I was able to bike through last winter -- even on a couple of icy days when I said "No, way" to myself.

I think the key is

a) giving yourself plenty of time in advance to prepare

b) getting lots of sleep

c) drinking warm fluids and consuming warm breakfast to get your body going -- this can make me feel 10 degrees warmer that it actually is and make me just fly

On days when it is cold but no wind (we get a lot of west, north-west winds in the winter -- which is the opposite direction of my morning commute) I have no problems at all.

Our snow removal begins right at the start of the snowstorm, so main and even back roads are cleared before they have a chance to even get covered with a blanket of snow. The most I had to bike through was an inch. And it was fairly easy. What I hate more is freezing ice. This stuff can be really tricky especially if you do a lot of corners. My commute is 90% a straight line, so I don't turn much at all.
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Old 10-05-08, 07:26 AM   #16
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I can't believe nobody has advised to "Not Eat The Yellow Snow!"

I mean cmon man.. a bonking winter cyclist always dives for the yellow snow. Even the abominable snowman knows this.
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Old 10-05-08, 06:18 PM   #17
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In heavy falling snow I allow about double the usual time when I take city streets. After the snow has fallen, and they're just starting to clear the streets, I allow about 50 % more time.

I allow 5 to 10 % more time on a clear but cold winter day. Cold air is denser, so you have to work harder (or go slower) to push your bike and body through it. Believe it or not, this really does make a difference. And keep an eye on the wind. A 20 mph cold wind has much more force than a 20 mph warm wind.

Personally, in winter weather I only ride on trails and MUPs for fun. If I actually want to get somewhere, I take the streets.
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