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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 12-02-10, 03:09 PM   #1
daven1986
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Winter cycling tips

Hi all,

So having had my first proper commute in snow / ice, I'm loving my Schwalbe Marathon Winter 35C tyres. However I found that in the tyre tracks of buses / lorries the snow was forced into ice matching the tyre tread which made the ride very bumpy and pretty dodgy with the bike dancing over the tracks. On flat ice I could happily build up speed and the bike felt solid, however with a slight snow covering and in slush it felt a little unsteady.

Also later in the day when some of the snow had melted there were just these lumps of ice left from the tyre tracks - riding over these was very dangerous and I had to make sure I spotted them in time to avoid having to really hold the bike steady as it again danced about over them.

I am running a fixed gear bike with a front disc brake, my speed modulation was fine without any skidding. I'm thinking about lowering my tyre pressure to 35psi, I'm not sure what it is at now, but it is around 50 I'd say. I don't weight much so this shouldn't be an issue I hope (at least that is what I have understood from reading the forum!).

My question is how do you all deal with bumpy ice riding, and riding in slush? Is there some technique to it (holding the bike firmly / letting it go a little)?

Thanks

Daven
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Old 12-02-10, 03:19 PM   #2
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You for sure wanna lower pressure some on my 26 x 1.95 tires I bring them down to about 25psi well at least the last couple of days for the deep snow and slush. The lower pressures do help, i just pedal right on over it all hold on and hope i stay upright I hold on tight and try to keep my track as straight as possible, the less you steer the less likely the fronts gonna come out from under you.
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Old 12-02-10, 03:25 PM   #3
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That was my initial thought, also being fixed is quite good as the rear wheel keeps moving even as it is sliding so it eventually grips something!

Thanks
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Old 12-03-10, 02:17 AM   #4
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It may seem counter intuitive but maintaining your speed and keeping it constant will do more to keep you upright as your wheels are gyroscopes and when they slow down, they become unstable.

When you are riding through sections of slush and what we like to call the "brown sugar" keep your speed and your head up and don't focus on the patches of slush you are riding through but look a little farther ahead.

Reason for this is that if you are looking at what you are riding through your eyes will see the wheel moving laterally and you will over adjust while if you look ahead your body will adjust more easily to slight movements.

This should also help you relax which is a great skill to have when you are riding through sketchy sections... a death grip on the bars does not help at all.
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Old 12-03-10, 02:40 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice. Will keep it in mind Out of interest does front suspension help in these conditions?
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Old 12-03-10, 09:02 AM   #6
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My question is how do you all deal with bumpy ice riding, and riding in slush? Is there some technique to it (holding the bike firmly / letting it go a little)?
On bumpy, rutted ice: Lower tire pressure, shift the weight to the back (I hang my butt off the back of the saddle, MTB-style), a light touch on the bars, and let the front drift around a little.

It's sort of a Zen thing. If you try to manhandle the bike, not only will it try to manhandle you back, but it will follow the ruts, and bump all over left and right. If you both lighten up the front and let it go a little, it can ride over things that would otherwise cause sideshifts.
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Old 12-03-10, 11:57 AM   #7
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On bumpy, rutted ice: Lower tire pressure, shift the weight to the back (I hang my butt off the back of the saddle, MTB-style), a light touch on the bars, and let the front drift around a little.

It's sort of a Zen thing. If you try to manhandle the bike, not only will it try to manhandle you back, but it will follow the ruts, and bump all over left and right. If you both lighten up the front and let it go a little, it can ride over things that would otherwise cause sideshifts.
Might be a bit tricky with a fixed gear, but I'll give it a shot. Thanks
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Old 12-03-10, 01:10 PM   #8
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Bumpy ice and slush require different strategies. Bumpy rutted tracks require fat soft tires and slush s best tackled with a narrow high pressure tire. Fat soft tires act as suspension to absorb the small bumps, but narrow high-ressure tires will cut through the zero-traction slush and contact the solid ground underneath.

FWIW, what they call in Edmonton “brown sugar” I call “ mashed potatoes”
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Old 12-03-10, 06:11 PM   #9
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Might be a bit tricky with a fixed gear, but I'll give it a shot. Thanks
I thought that, but figured it may help someone else as well. I've never ridden fixed and don't even pretend to know what the dynamics are, but if MTBers (and old guys like me) can pedal our geared bikes from off the back of the saddle, maybe you can too.

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FWIW, what they call in Edmonton “brown sugar” I call “ mashed potatoes”
I've also heard it called "biscuit dough".
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Old 12-03-10, 06:17 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice. Will keep it in mind Out of interest does front suspension help in these conditions?
I have ridden with a suspension in the winter and if it's an elastomer type it will give you a little shock absorbing ability but as we deal with much colder temperatures that suspension will eventually feel more like a rigid fork and they add a lot of weight.

I prefer wider tyres that can be run at low psi as these usually offer all the suspension I want on the roughest of surfaces... the 1.95's on my extra bike cut through the slush and brown sugar really well because of their tread pattern while the 2.1's on my 3 speed offer a lot more float.
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Old 12-04-10, 10:11 AM   #11
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Hmm might be time to find N+1, perfect excuse for a mountain bike that I don't need! Until then, I'll keep riding the marathon winter tyres but might look at some fat ones with plenty of knobbly bits!

Cheers for the help

Happy riding!
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Old 12-04-10, 02:47 PM   #12
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Where are you in the UK that there is likely to be persistent snow and ice on the ground?
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Old 12-06-10, 02:50 PM   #13
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I'm in london, but we had a lot of snow recently. Probably due some more during this winter
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Old 12-06-10, 03:21 PM   #14
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don't panic when the front wheel slips.
simply steer into the skid.

assuming you have some winter tires on, the steering motion will both, slow you down and keep you upright long enough so you can put your foot out to catch the fall.
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Old 12-06-10, 06:44 PM   #15
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I'm in london, but we had a lot of snow recently. Probably due some more during this winter
If you are in a city where the snow is likely to be damp and have solid pavement underneath then narrow tires are best - they will cut down through the slush and give you proper traction. THe wider your tires the more snow gets traped between tire and pavement and the less traction you have.
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Old 12-06-10, 07:28 PM   #16
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If you are in a city where the snow is likely to be damp and have solid pavement underneath then narrow tires are best - they will cut down through the slush and give you proper traction. THe wider your tires the more snow gets traped between tire and pavement and the less traction you have.
unless the wider tire is designed to cut through with aggressive knobs.
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