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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 11-18-04, 09:01 AM   #1
Mars
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Fundamental skills for the winter cyclist

1) The farmer blow
2) Riding over a patch of ice

In my experience, one simply cannot ride effectively in the winter until these skills are mastered. If I even LOOK at my bike in the winter, my nose becomes a raging torrent. And, the super slick frozen puddle or man hole cover is another formidable challenge. So, for anyone how is interested, here is how I do them.

Farmer blow
a) Look to see if anyone is watching
b) Blow the left nostril over the left shoulder and right over the right
c) Cover the non-blowing nostril (use the same hand as the nostril being covered ie covering rt nostril, use rt hand)
d) simultaneously sharply expel air through the unvoered nostril while flipping your head up and back so the resulting rockets flies back over your shoulder.
e) If so inclined, and if you have the bike handling skills, admire the arcs, parabelas, and distances of the resulting product.
f) If someone WAS watching, pop a wheelie and shout something existential.

Riding over ice
a) what ever you do, DON"T turn on ice
b) stop pedaling
c) glide over the ice holding as still as possible
d) Think centered thoughts
e) If you DO have to turn, don't use your handlebars, turn by leanign your bike
f) try not to brake, but if you do, only use the rear brake. Front brake on the ice, you're going down, baby.

Anyone else have some fundamental winter biking skills to share?

ps. what to say to auto driving colleagues as you leave the office during a winter storm, "Be careful out there, cager, those things are dangerous! Hey, where's your helmet?"
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Old 11-18-04, 09:25 AM   #2
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Woah.. over the shoulder farmer blows? I've found it much more effective to blow downward, under my arm. The downward aim also helps facilitate the expulsion of snot, and when done correctly, the process is usually fairly well concealed from casual on-lookers.
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Old 11-18-04, 10:30 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
1) The farmer blow
Sorry, will never be able to do that one. I'm a fan of the 'sniff it up then down your throat and hawk a massive loogey, preferably right at someone watching' method. It might have to do with having a deviated septum, because that limits the amount of force you get...

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b) stop pedaling
Good on a freewheel, but I can't do that one either.
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f) try not to brake, but if you do, only use the rear brake. Front brake on the ice, you're going down, baby.
...
I try to never brake at all in the winter. It's so much better to just slow down your pedaling and move slower... Kind of like downshifting a car instead of hitting the brakes is how I explain it to the folks at work...
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Old 11-18-04, 12:26 PM   #4
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HereNT,

Do you feel that you have better control over your fixie on the snow/ice than you would with a freewheeled bike? If so (which I'm guessing, why?)
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Old 11-18-04, 01:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HereNT
Sorry, will never be able to do that one. I'm a fan of the 'sniff it up then down your throat and hawk a massive loogey, preferably right at someone watching' method. It might have to do
Hacking a loogie into vehicular traffic whilst riding no handed on ones fixie is the true definition of cool. Least that's what I tell myself everytime.
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Old 11-18-04, 02:23 PM   #6
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e) If you DO have to turn, don't use your handlebars, turn by leanign your bike
it seems to my memory (terrible at best) that if you lean at all on sick ice the bike flies out from under you.. if you do have to turn on ice you should turn the handlebars slowly while keeping as centered on the bike as possible

i have not rode my fixie on ice yet (mpls has been tame so far) however it would seem that while stopping i would know quickly if the back wheel started slipping and could let up on the back pressure..
and hope to stop before hitting whatever made me want to stop
hehe
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Old 11-19-04, 03:14 AM   #7
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You forgot the number one: get a pair of decent studded tyres. And I too find leaning on curves hazardous, even with said tyres. If you have to make a controlled turn on slick ice, methinks the best way is to slow down to the point where you can turn without leaning much at all. And you need to brake before you turn, even studded tyres have a tendency to slip if you brake aggressively while turning.

Snow OTOH is a different matter entirely. You will be able to lean etc. (unless there's ice beneath the layer of snow).

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Old 11-19-04, 03:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
HereNT,

Do you feel that you have better control over your fixie on the snow/ice than you would with a freewheeled bike? If so (which I'm guessing, why?)
Totally more control. It's a tourque/connection thing I guess. I didn't slip once last year, though I did fall down a couple of times after stopping the bike and stepping off of the pedals. You feel immediatly when the bike is starting to go, and can adjust speed/pressure accordingly. You'd just have to try it I guess. It's better to ride one in niver weather first, as fixies take some getting used to...
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Old 11-19-04, 11:50 AM   #9
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Regarding a winter lean turn. Keeping your weight vertical, lean your bike slightly underneath you. You will find the bike does a slow even turn. You can apply the same concept on super slick ice. The keys are the continuing centralization of weight above the bike and a slight lean while keeping the bars straight.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-19-04, 11:52 AM   #10
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HereNT,

I ride a fixie about once a week to augment my other riding. They are awesome bikes. Another question, though, have you riddne much in snow with your fixie? I'm just imagining trying to power through the deeper stuff.....
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Old 11-19-04, 12:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
2) Riding over a patch of ice

Riding over ice
a) what ever you do, DON"T turn on ice
b) stop pedaling
c) glide over the ice holding as still as possible
e) If you DO have to turn, don't use your handlebars, turn by leanign your bike
f) try not to brake, but if you do, only use the rear brake. Front brake on the ice, you're going down, baby.
A, B and C go together and are what I call "smooth pedalling". It is when riding on ice that one discovers if one spins throughout the full circle or only through part of it. Likewise for turning: ride slowly enough to turn without problems. In a way, it is less slippery on bike than by car... except cars don't fall but crash.

As for braking, the best on-ice braking is to apply both brakes smoothly and evenly so that you don't lock any wheel.
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Old 11-19-04, 11:01 PM   #12
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I dunno Michel, about that braking with both wheels stuff. I'm guessing it works for you ok. thanks for the input.
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Old 11-20-04, 12:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
HereNT,

I ride a fixie about once a week to augment my other riding. They are awesome bikes. Another question, though, have you riddne much in snow with your fixie? I'm just imagining trying to power through the deeper stuff.....
I do live in Minneapolis. They are pretty good for most of the roads most of the time, but some days you have a lot of slush to move through. That's why I stick with skinnier tires in the winter - they cut down to the asphalt. A lighter gearing is also good. I'm probably biased though - I ride nothing but fixie (just retired the track [brakeless] bike for the winter). I wouldn't trust myself on a freewheel bike in the summer, and the winter would be worse.
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Old 11-20-04, 02:22 AM   #14
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I think that one of the most useful skills is quick frozen rut scouting. If you are navigating through tall frozen walls of ice, that criss-cross, and sometimes abruptly end, you have to keep your wits about you, to follow that one path through the maze, without having to stop, or block the flow of traffic.
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Old 11-20-04, 05:31 AM   #15
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I'd say the most fundamental skill is falling. If you ride bikes, you'll fall, and if you ride in winter, you'll fall more. Get used to it. I'd say second is preparation; you need to dress very accurately for the weather or you'll overheat or freeze, you need speciality gear to deal with sub-zero conditions (anyone found a good anti-icing compound for goggles yet? I mean anti-icing, not anti-fogging, I get frozen ice on the inside and outside of goggles when it's below -10F. I've tried to stop breathing, but it hasn't worked so far.), and it's best to keep your machine in excellent mechanical condition because I'm sure changing a flat at -10F is even less fun than at 30F.
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Old 11-20-04, 09:22 AM   #16
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I here you ajkloss42!!

After one -20 ride to work, a coworker asked if the silver things were the bottom of my sunglasses were some kind of clips. I looked. They were icicles from tears.
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Old 11-20-04, 12:12 PM   #17
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I've had a 2 inch icycle from tears on glasses before. I was wondering why my cheek was colder in that spot than the rest of my face... Found out when I got off the bike.

Good times.
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Old 11-20-04, 06:21 PM   #18
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drives me crazy when my eyelashes freeze together
maybe its time to get some goggles
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Old 11-20-04, 06:53 PM   #19
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I found the reverse layout skid turn to be invaluable in all my years of winter cycling. Get good at it and your foot never touches the road. Slow and elegant show of grace on snow and ice.
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Old 11-21-04, 02:30 PM   #20
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I here you ajkloss42!!

After one -20 ride to work, a coworker asked if the silver things were the bottom of my sunglasses were some kind of clips. I looked. They were icicles from tears.
Frozen snot in mustache gave me some comments...
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Old 11-21-04, 07:50 PM   #21
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Bekologist,

What's a reverse layout skid?

Also, I see you live in Pugetopolis... does that refer to a certain type of canine populace?
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Old 11-21-04, 08:56 PM   #22
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A reverse layout skid turn is where you hit the rear brake, throw your back wheel out and turn your wheel in the opposite direction of how you want to turn, and lay it out, with your foot off the inside pedal for balance. Whe you get good at it, you rarely have to touch the ground with your inside foot. It works like a champ for changing direction on snow and ice, and a lot more solid than trying to ***** foot your way through one. I don't agree with Mars' technique for turning on ice. I guess its just a skidded turn, but couldn't think of how to describe it.
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Old 11-22-04, 06:07 AM   #23
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I guess I'd describe that as floating the rear wheel during the turn with countersteer. I do essentially the same thing (less hanging a foot out) in my Mustang pretty much every time I drive, but I use throttle not brake to break the rear end free. It's a reckless, irresponsible, unnecessarily complex, very fast way to turn. I like it a lot. I shall try it in the snow on the bike at the next opportunity.
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Old 11-22-04, 07:22 AM   #24
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If you start doing doghnuts on your bike, alert me; I want to watch!
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Old 11-23-04, 11:51 AM   #25
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My nose output is more like water then anything else so that farmer thing wouldn't work for me. What I do is put a papertowel in my coat pocket and use that to absorb the drip with a free hand. The paper towel (or alternatively a shop rag) is thick & stiff enough to be handled with winter gloves. Another option is a cloth hanky which is also reusable.

One technique I use for sudden stops is to simply jump off my bike seat and break with my shoes/boots as well. I've used it in the summer when I'm tearing along not bothering to break for a intersection but suddenly notice a incoming car. But its especially useful in the winter when breaking is so much more difficult. It takes some practice to do this maneuver without groin injury though, well depending on your bike design.

Also sometimes the pedals continue spining and hit you on the back of the leg which can cause some injury depending on what kind of grip they have. My pedals have high grip and can cause quite some injury if i'm not careful.(little bloody holes alongside my leg) Of course the idea is to stop the pedals from moving first but this is a emergency break proceeder plus sometimes you accidentally hit the pedal when jumping down causing them to spin around.

Last edited by Hobbes; 11-23-04 at 11:59 AM.
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