As a former runner (knee replacement) who ran everyday, including the winter, for over 30 years, I needed an alternate exercise. So, I bought a stationary recumbent exercise bike. However, I soon got bored staring at the wall in the basement; no wheels, no fresh air and an instrument panel. I wondered if real bicycling would work for me. This past May, I bought a Specialized Crossroads Elite. I am now starting to conclude that this 700c x 38c hybrid is not the ideal bike for me, but it will do for now as a winter bike. Besides, selecting a 2nd bike is a discussion for another day.
I am currently riding 10-12 miles a day…every day. I ride hard; strictly for fitness and only on concrete or asphalt. What a thrill it is to get out of the basement and get outside again. Why didn’t somebody tell me it was going to be this much fun? As we used to say back in the 70s, “Man, I’m diggin’ this”!
With my newly found love of two wheeled aerobics, I was soon asking myself, can I ride through the winter? Sure I can! As an everyday runner who ran everyday through 33 Michigan winters, I have no doubt I can ride December though March. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about dressing for cold weather running and I already have a lot of the required gear. I only need to tap into the expertise of people who ride in the winter. That's when I discovered this forum and http://www.icebike.org. When a local cycle shop employee gave me this address, it was like finding the missing piece of a puzzle. I have learned so much here and on IceBike.
To prepare for winter, I am doing the necessary modifications to the bike, i.e., fenders and winter tires with studs. I will ride on plowed concrete and asphalt roads 80%-90% of the time. For the other 10%-20%, those same roads will be snow covered with an occasional patch of black ice. As I indicated above, I already have the poly base layers, wool secondary layers and outer windproof shells. As a runner, my feet and legs were never cold, but I am told that my feet will get cold cycling in the winter. I will learn to deal with that as well as learn how to protect my hands and face. Obviously, the winter wind conditions while cycling are going to be more challenging than what I experienced as a runner.
In conclusion, I will be posting often this fall and winter to report on my progress and to seek additional advice. To all that have contributed to the wealth of knowledge (and a few laughs) on this forum, I thank you.
If you are looking for a little more speed, for now you can go to a 700x32 hardwall slick tire. Since you are only riding on the pavement you don't need all that tread.
Never having ridden through a winter myself as this is my first year commuting, I have a question for the winter veterans. Do you change the rubber on your wheel if there is snow forcast? Do you have a rim with a studded tread ready to go, or do you have a mtn bike all studded and ready to ride?
Do you change the rubber on your wheel if there is snow forecast? Do you have a rim with a studded tread ready to go, or do you have a mtn bike all studded and ready to ride?
There's a fourth option--put the snows on in November and ride 'em through March.
There are people here who represent all four choices. It all depends on what works best for you.
My first season I started the leave 'em on and ride 'em thing, but we had a really mild winter, so I started changing them with the temperature.
Note that I said temperature, not snow.
It's the ice that takes you down. Even if the roads are clear, a bit of snowmelt dripping or running across the road will freeze. The only winter crash I've had was when I ignored that. Took the studs off, then hit a patch of snowmelt on a side hill on an otherwise clear road. Down I went.
Anyway, now I have two wheelsets that I swap as required. I don't have room for more than two bikes in my apartment, and my other road bike is my fair weather bike.
And don't get me started on the fallacy that that you can only use a mountain bike in the snow… If you prefer mountain bikes, then ride a mountain bike. I prefer roadies, and that's what I ride all winter.
To the OP:
When I bought my first bike--a hybrid similar to your Crossroads--I was stunned when the the LBS guy told me, "You don't have to put your bike away for the winter. We sell studded snow tires." And that hybrid was my first winter bike too. Worked out just fine.
Yes, I am looking for more speed and performance, but not for my current hybrid bike. I now realize that I want a road bike for the summer and this hybrid will be my "winter bike". I will install studded tires on it and buy a new summer bike next spring. I will use Schwalbe Marathon Winters, (http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp) a studded tire that has relatively minimal rolling resistance. Thanks for the reply.
Winter cycling is going to be a different experience. I've found my speeds drop in winter because of the road conditions. Negotiating curves on snow-packed roads is different from handling them on asphalt. Ice is an entirely different experience. Because winter days are shorter, you're also going to be riding after dark more often. For those reasons, winter is not the time for flat-out speed. Instead, as you ride through the winter, you'll notice your balance and cycling finesse will improve noticeably.