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  1. #1
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    Colorado Winter Commuters?

    Where you at?

    I am gonna give it a go this winter. MTB bike'n it, with studded snow tires for the really bad, snow packed days. Got all the lastest, greatest cold gear I can think of. I have a 13 mile commute. I'm thinking I have it all covered. Bike seems like it's ready to rock 'n roll. Just curious if you may have of any words of wisdom for me. You know how it is, you think you got it all covered, and wham-O! Something you didn't think to think of.

    Words of wisdom....I need em!

    Haven't been this excited for snow since........Never!
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    I was commuting year-round for several years before I started working from home:
    - Non-suspension steel-framed mtn bike.
    - Full fenders.
    - Carried all my stuff in the same backpack that I used used in college to carry books.
    - Tires: Performance Versatrac aka Nashbar Elevators, (although studs would have been nice).
    - Full headlight/taillight set.

  3. #3
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    I live in Longmont, work in Boulder. I rode all winter last year.

    You may have overlooked something (hard to say without know more about your setup), but it sounds like you have the right attitude to take it as it comes and figure it out as you go.

    If you ride throug the fall you have plenty of time to dial in your clothing before it gets really cold.

    Paul

  4. #4
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    I commuted for 4 years all year round in weather ranging from 0F to 105F with a few blizzards thrown in.
    But do you ask me for advice? NO! I am so dropping you on Oct 30th.

  5. #5
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    I thought that was what I was doing. Asking you for advice.... *forehead slap for Mike

    Old school GT Mt. bike.
    Nokian WCS 300 Studded snow tires.
    Rear rack w/ transit pannier.

    Work part time at PBS, so I have all the cold weather gear I can think of.

    Still pondering getting a Ski helmet, Pogeys, Pedal straps, and making my bike a single speed.
    Last edited by Pwnt; 10-04-10 at 03:36 PM.
    _____________________________________________

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  6. #6
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    lol
    I don't think it gets cold enough here for pogeys but they couldn't hurt. I used ski gloves or convertible mitts. It is very hard for me to get my layering correct and frequently I would be riding along at 10F with my gloves flipped up to vent heat.
    A nice thing to have would be clear ski goggles. My eyes were always red due to them freezing. There is nothing quite like descending a hill unable to see because your eyes are watering and arriving at work with them glowing red.
    If you are riding in snow eventually your bike will be a single speed due to the snow and ice build up on your drive train.
    As for pedals, I put a dual sided shimano spd pedals on my mtb. That way I could switch to a couple sizes too large hiking boots with freaking huge wool socks. Below 15f I couldn't keep my feet warm to save my life using clipless. I don't think I would even use toe straps. It is nice when your bike starts to tilt due to snow to simply put your feet down. Incidentally, pbs's neoprene booties are wonderful.

    I collected a huge variety of gear to use over the years. Mixed and matched as need be. It always seemed like my temperature tolerances changed year to year.

    Some stuff:
    Poly thermal tops and bottoms from target.
    An lg power cap. Your usual skull caps. Arm, knee, and leg warmers. Tights of various weights. PBS heavyweight tights worked wonderful. I now use sugoi firewall bib tights for winter. A neoprene ski mask. I prefer separate pieces over one. Something to keep your neck warm. My ski mask doubles as a scarf.
    Fortunately, you will have plenty of time to improvise as the weather cools down.

  7. #7
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    If you'll be riding in slushy stuff, the Transit pannier may not be good enough to keep everthing completely dry (unless you use additional bags inside the pannier). Nothing like a good blast of slush from a passing car.

    Paul

  8. #8
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Ski goggles; will work well with your idea of a ski helmet, but a regular bicycle helmet still works. I use a skullcap and for really cold days I cover my helmet with a dollar-store showercap. Fenders are, IMHO, the most important winter cycling accessory next to studded tires. This year I'm using my new bike; IGH and belt drive. I'm hoping that will save me a lot of maintenance since I spent a ton of time last winter cleaning my drivetrain.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  9. #9
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    +1 Fenders. Especially in March and April.
    Earlier snows can be cold enough to hardly melt.

  10. #10
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    Never thought I'd be so excited for snow!
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Riding home in 4" of fresh snow is a treat!

    Riding to work the next day after pedestrians have left icy lumps all over the sidewalks/MUPs, and snowplows have filled the bikelanes with football-sized chunks of frozen snow, is hell!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pwnt View Post
    Never thought I'd be so excited for snow!
    I think Curt has studded tires also. We could have a new club ride smack dab in the middle of winter. The only issue being that I hate driving in the midst of winter. Perhaps just the two of us instead. No need to travel to Fort Collins.
    That is after I get studded tires. I'm sick of slipping and slidding around with my knobbies.

  13. #13
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    I commuted all winter when I was living in CO, now that I live in MI, I commute all winter. I like commuting in MI better, though. It doesn't get nearly as cold.

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pwnt View Post
    Where you at?

    I am gonna give it a go this winter. MTB bike'n it, with studded snow tires for the really bad, snow packed days. Got all the lastest, greatest cold gear I can think of. I have a 13 mile commute. I'm thinking I have it all covered. Bike seems like it's ready to rock 'n roll. Just curious if you may have of any words of wisdom for me. You know how it is, you think you got it all covered, and wham-O! Something you didn't think to think of.

    Words of wisdom....I need em!

    Haven't been this excited for snow since........Never!
    DataJunkie thinks he's soooooo special because he rode for 4 loooong years Try riding to work at least once every month since 1988 (that's 264 months). That includes breaking an ankle at Thanksgiving, having surgery to remove the pins and plates from a previous break, getting out of the cast on December 30 and still getting a ride to work in on New Year's Eve! And I only go back to '88 because that's all I have records for. I was commuting to and from work and college by 1978. Neener. Neener.

    All...justified...bragging aside, the number one consideration is lights. L. I. G. H. T. S! Get the brightest ones you can, preferably 2 sets. Geoman, right here is good ol' Colorada, sells MagicShine lights. The best lights with the best value around. $180 will outfit you with a handlebar light and a helmet light each of which is as bright as any other $200 single light. For rear lights, Planet Bike Superflashes are cheap and bright. Get enough of them so that you feel stupidly bright and then get one more. I use about 5 of them Make sure you have the required reflectors...tail reflector and wheel reflectors...too. You don't what to be squished and have some smarty pants lawyer getting your lawsuit thrown out because it was deemed your fault.

    Carrying stuff: Expect to ride into work wearing every stitch of bicycle clothing you own and everything you can borrow from your neighbor. Also expect to wear shorts home...in January! Yes, it has happen to me. The problem is you have to get all that other stuff back home. So make sure you have someway to carry it. I can usually make do with a trunk bag that is almost bursting on the way home but you really have to shove stuff in there and sit on the bag to close it. Panniers work but I usually don't like carrying them so I just stuff the bag.

    Clothing: While bicycle specific clothing isn't necessary, it does work better for sweat management. Two light layers are better than one heavy layer (and they pack easier). I have kind of a sliding scale that I use for dressing. Below 60, I always wear something on my knees which means tights over my cycling shorts. Below 50, I'll add a wind jacket. Below 40, I'll add a long sleeve jersey over my short sleeve jersey and long fingered mountain bike gloves. Below 35, I add neoprene shoe covers (Performance brand are made like iron. I have a pair that are at least 15 years old and still in great shape), ear warmer, wool knee socks and, perhaps, a thicker glove. Below 30 I'll add another long sleeve jersey and switch over to bib tights which are warmer than regular tights. At around 20F, I'll add a thin cycling sock which really does a good job of keeping your feet warm and maybe a balaclava. I also might put on my Pearl Izumi Amfib bib tights but only if it's going to stay cold most of the day. Amfib's are wonderfully warm but way too hot much above freezing.

    Bike: Okay. I use fenders in the winter. I hate 'em. They're noisy. They catch your clothes. They rub tires. They are a pain to mount but they do keep the spray down. For my road bike, I just use regular fenders. For my mountain bike I use a cobbled together system that protects me and the bike without being close enough to the wheels to clog. Here's what it looks like



    I use a shock fork during the winter because it offers some help on control on ice and rough roads. In the dark, you might also miss something even with good lights so the shock comes in handy.

    Finally, I carry a Camelbak with an insulated tube kit. It freezes slower than water bottles and I'm not fumbling for bottles in the dark while trying to keep an eye out for stupid drivers and ice patches. It's also a handy place to carry tools, tubes and back up lights...which you should aways carry.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 10-07-10 at 12:26 AM.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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  15. #15
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    I am "special".
    Ask anyone who has ridden with me.

  16. #16
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    I haven't biked in CO, but the Buffalo NY area gets about 120 to 150 inches of snow, so we DO get real winter cycling.

    Most important are:
    - Don't over dress, it is easy to overheat
    - Rember that Winter tires suck for efficiency. I notice an immediate 2 to 3 MPH average speed drop when I switch to my snow tires. Once you git some slick spots you'll be VERY thankful for the extra grim and control you get with real winter tires, but those 1st few weeks you feel like you're pedaling backwards. The up side is that in spring you'll feel like superman when you switch back to slicks.
    - Take it easy when it gets realy cold (below 10F). I've found that breathing is noticably harder when the temperature approaches 0F. Just go easy and listen to your body and don't push too hard.
    - As others pointed out, but shure you can see and be seens. Lots of good lighting will help you survice the roads. Don't be a ninja 8-).
    - Most importantly... Enjoy. Not every day will be equally enjoyable. You'll have some rides that will absolutely suck (getting blasted in the face by freezing hail ranks as my least favorite), just remember that cycling is still more enjoyable than sitting in traffic in a car.

    Happy riding,
    André

  17. #17
    Daily Rider hairlessbill's Avatar
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    I commute year-round (for the last 14 years) but my ride is all within town so it is mostly bike path. Keeping my feet warm was becoming a big pain so I finally bought some winter cycling shoes and gore waterproof socks. If it gets really nasty, I switch to platforms and Sorels. Last year I got a bit of burnout because I just got tired of dealing with being cold all the time - yeah, I have a ton of gear but it was a mental thing - so you have to factor in taking a break sometime to restore your sanity. Biggest thing for me is having a backup plan in case you really get stuck - mine is a phone call away and she doesn't mind picking me up when it's 11pm and still snowing.

  18. #18
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    Someone got some fenders and a rack and some panniers today. No saying who but.....the bike is complete'ish (issues with the front fender). Pics to follow.
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

  19. #19
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    New Image..jpg

    Well here it is.
    WXC300 Nokian studded snow tires
    PlanetBike Fenders with an insanley hard to install front fender. (just cause there were no mounts available)
    travel trac rear rack
    rear panniers (no pictured)

    I am not happy with the clearance of the front fender and will work on it as time goes along. But all in all, I'm happy with the overall turn out of the bike.

    Ready for the snow to fly!
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pwnt View Post
    New Image..jpg

    Well here it is.
    WXC300 Nokian studded snow tires
    PlanetBike Fenders with an insanley hard to install front fender. (just cause there were no mounts available)
    travel trac rear rack
    rear panniers (no pictured)

    I am not happy with the clearance of the front fender and will work on it as time goes along. But all in all, I'm happy with the overall turn out of the bike.

    Ready for the snow to fly!
    Now that you got the fenders, look at the picture I posted. The Switchblade fenders I have mounted are made for suspension forks. They are completely out of the way and don't require a lot of funkiness when it comes to mounting them. I would suggest that you look a little outside the box on the front fender, however. Mount the top of the fender over fork brace. You can drill a hole in the top of the fork and ziptie it to the brace like you currently have but the fender will clear the tires better. The end of the fender will be above the brake but that shouldn't cause problems.

    You can get more clearance in the rear by routing the fender over the brake as well. Like this



    This works best with a brake booster or with Avid Arch Rivals. Brake boosters aren't all that hard to install and the Arch Rivals are great brakes.

    Two nits to pick. First, save the studs for when you really need them. That's not all that often in Denver. I've ridden every winter for the last 30 and I haven't used studs once...even during the Denver Glacial period of 2005/2006.

    Second, level your rack! It's like wrinkles in the duct tape, man. It shows lack of pride in your work
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    Sometimes people are ready for riding in the Winter but not ready for not riding. By that I mean that if you break down with a flat or some such problem will your clothing be warm enough and are you prepared to fix a flat in the dark or deal with it? It gets colder where I live than it does in Colo. and in the Winter I typically ride with panniers so I can take along a warm jacket and other additional clothing that I know I will need if I break down. My clothing needs when riding in Winter are dramatically different then my clothing needs when I am sitting on the side of the road trying to change a flat tire. One interesting but luckily rare event is running over something really nasty that is entirely hidden by snow. I've flatted at -20F and it's a potentially huge problem if you don't have additional clothing and can't get help quickly. Will your phone have a battery that's too cold to operate? Will your patch kit have glue that's too cold to work but you don't have a spare tube? Do you have a headlight/flashlight to use for a repair or do you only have a headlight for your bike? Do you have a spare battery for your bike's light? For the tail light? If it's slushy (it's never slushy in mid Winter where I live cause it's too cold) do you have a small cloth or towel to dry something or wipe something (like hands or derailleur) that gets full of slush? Chem pack toe and hand heaters are always with me in the Winter.

  22. #22
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    I moved the rack as far back as I could so my feet don't hit the panniers. I will slowly inch it forward as I get it dialed in more. The "Snow bike" is just for the snow packed days. I'll ride the road bike on the dry, cold days. The 24 in. bmx bike on the slushy days. I image I will be on it most of the time.

    As far as clothing, I plan on taking everything with me, all the time. That way I'm never caught out. Have one of those head lamps like the miners where for repair. Tubes, tools, extra chain master link.....I like the carrying a rag idea. I'll throw one of those in when I get home.
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

  23. #23
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    Got me some pogeys at the veloswap today for 5 bucks. Things are just coming together for me for some reason. DataJunkie says I won't need em here in CO. I say, I'd rather have em and not need em then need em and not have them. Your thoughts on the pogeys here in the 303?
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

  24. #24
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pwnt View Post
    Got me some pogeys at the veloswap today for 5 bucks. Things are just coming together for me for some reason. DataJunkie says I won't need em here in CO. I say, I'd rather have em and not need em then need em and not have them. Your thoughts on the pogeys here in the 303?
    I've never found a need for them. But I have hot hands. I can use long fingered mountain bike gloves down to 40F. I wear fairly lightweight gloves to around 20F. Below that I use lighter gloves then most people do for downhill skiing.

    There's also the issue of what to do with them during our temperature swings. It's completely possible to ride to work in the morning at 20F or less and then turn around and ride home at 60F at night. While the Pogeys are going to be comfortable at 20F, they are going to be hand sized sweat lodges on the way home.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  25. #25
    ( 8n(|) DOH!! Pwnt's Avatar
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    That's what the panniers are for. All the extra stuff. I am slightly sensitive to cold on my hand and feet. Not to the point of wussiness but...I don't like em to be cold. I get wussified when the cold gets to my back though. Don't want to play more when that happens.
    _____________________________________________

    I love noodles.

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