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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 10-10-11, 11:27 PM   #1
Mrs. Hop-along
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Cold Rain? and winter tires?

Hello icy bikies,

I commented on my commute thread, but I thought it would be a question better asked here:

How do you deal with cold rain?

I'm trying to not be a chicken about this, but I'm from Florida and never rode my bike much before February when I got my new one. I'm trying to commute 3 miles to work (school bus driver). I hope to continue through te winter, but I've had varying levels of impossibility expressed by my coworkers.

Regardless, I'd like to at least get over the cold drizzles. I have zero bike-specific clothing, no raincoat, plain sneakers, no wool.
I have used a waterproofing spray optimistically on my windbreaker.

My problems are then, theoretically- my lower half including shoes, my hands, and my face. My hands get cold very easily. I just got snow gloves from Walmart so maybe they will help, being water resistant? I wear glasses, so keeping the lenses dry for visibility is important. I biked once in warm rain with a baseball cap, which helped some. I have very few pants that haven't developed holes in them, and haven't had hours yet to peruse the Goodwill for replacements. This is an issue both for warmth and for changing- I don't have any to spare if the ones I wear get wet.

Any advice would be great, but I'm currently paying credit cards like mad to try and recover from our cross country move, so I'm effectively poor. Low cost options please?

And since I'm asking questions... I've heard about studded tires for winter biking. My bike has narrow hybrid tires, the tube said 35/44-622/630 27x1.25-700x35/43c. I'm assuming that refers to size, because 27 sounds right for the wheel size and 1.25 could be tire width. Can I get any knobby tires that would fit, and make my own studded tires?

This is still assuming my coworkers don't know jack and I can ride my bike in wintertime here. I would love to see their faces if I succeed.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully helping!
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Old 10-11-11, 04:50 AM   #2
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You won't need to worry about tires in Florida. If buying a new set, get a flat-resistant street-tires and avoid knobby tires that are intended for off-road.

Using a baseball cap under a helmet is a good solution for keeping the head a little more dry and warm.

Clothing is another matter. You should research the tips offered here. At the minimum, use wool layers and a water shielding outer layer. Avoid cotton, it holds water and will keep you cold once it is wet. Cold and rain require good clothing.
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 10-11-11 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 10-11-11, 11:52 AM   #3
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I'm so sorry, I never updated my location. I moved to Oregon during the summer, so when I said I'm from Florida, I meant that to show the difference in general climate that I'm used to. I haven't seen snow in 13 years, never driven in it.
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Old 10-11-11, 12:18 PM   #4
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I Started winter riding last year before I even knew about bike fourms. I think you need to keep it simple even for 3 miles I lived in wisconsin last year my route was about 2-3 miles. It was a blast. I wore regular shoes. with about 3-4 pairs of socks and they were cotton. My feet got cold but after I put on the forth pair of socks my feet where fine. I also had on a couple pairs of gloves. Now as far a snow tires go I only used one studded tire on the front of my bike. The rear was the same tire I used in the summer. I was fine even going up hills and when I had to stop. Basicly the colder it got the more layers I put on. You will be fine and it is possible. Do you have a ski mask?? look for stuff on the fourms. If you have a finsh line in your area the socks i get are very cheap and are not cotten. good luck
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Old 10-11-11, 07:04 PM   #5
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Remember. COTTON KILLS> You will get hypothermic in a few blocks after the cotton gets wet. I don't remember the cost but I got a bib type Goretex bib rainpant. Military surplus. From They were on the order of $30+. Lots when you have little money. But I wear them to repel the wind and with light uniform pants until about 10 degrees. Then I wear long johns of poly content. I find fleece too hot. You will have to figure out what works for you. Bread sacks may provide the waterproof shoes you need for now.You may have to carry or leave at work your heavy coat and such for driving. I use light gloves under motorcycle waterproof gauntlet gloves when it gets cold and windy. Find a pair of used ski goggles for really windy and cold days. I use some from Scott. Keeps my eyes from watering too much. Watch the yard sales for wool clothes, gloves and other cold weather gear. In your area there should be a few finds. I'll get chastised for this but let some church members know you need some used things and you may get outfitted before you know it. If anything you will end up giving some of it away. Pay it forward when you can. It always comes back to you.
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Old 10-13-11, 07:16 PM   #6
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Waterproof shoes are a life saver and make rainy bike rides much better. I figure if my feet are dry, hands feel warm and my ears aren't stinging from frost bite, I can handle the cold and the damp.

For legs, if waterproof is a bit too sweaty then windproof is still quite warm. Windproof also tends to be water resistant to a point but if you layer bike tights or wool long under beneath the windproof pants can help keep water from sitting right on your skin. Wool and polypro type fabric tends to pull moisture away from your skin and helps make you feel warmer.

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Old 10-14-11, 10:58 AM   #7
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Oi, I'm already finding out about cotton next to my skin. I'll get to work and feel a little clammy because the light bit of sweat is there...

how in the world did I play in snow as a child? I know we didn't have any special clothes except boots.
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Old 10-16-11, 07:30 AM   #8
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I have picked up some great deals cruising the bargain cave at Cabelas. While the clothes are not cycling specific the work well during Cleveland Ohio winters.
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Old 11-03-11, 09:04 AM   #9
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I will answer the knobby tire question.

You only need them if you ride when it's icy. Remember, of course, that snowfall will be squished and compacted if not fully plowed and then that will become icy.

Regarding making studs, experts do this but it is very labor intensive. Sixty-Fiver wrote a good article about it. I discussed with friends who have more winter experience than me and they all recommend buying a studded tire rather than trying to do it yourself, unless you just want the challenge and consider the monetary cost of your own time to be zero. (Are you doing this out of necessity, or as a hobby.)

What is your specific bike make & model? Wider will be better because you can lower pressure and get more grip. Most hybrids can fit a 32mm knobby, some of them 35mm or bigger. Unfortunately some 'hybrid' bikes are actually flatbar road bikes and have very little tire clearance.
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Old 11-03-11, 10:08 AM   #10
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I'm out here facing the 'pineapple express storms first,
tires, Schwalbe marathon plus , avoiding puncture repair conducted in the rain.
shoes LL Bean rubber bottom , leather upper 6" tall .

rain pants , and hooded jacket, .. new this year a rain cape , cycling type.
to keep my hands dry since gloves rarely work for long.

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-03-11 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 11-04-11, 10:38 AM   #11
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Does it snow much in Klamath Falls? Unless it does you probably don't need studs.

On the cheap, I buy my winter clothing gear at thrift stores. Look for nylon or polyester shells that have that slick, almost plastic feel to them. They breath terrible (but so does anything water repellent, including Gortex in my experience), but look for the ones that have vents in the armpits and full vents in the back and front. Look for pants made from the same material. These work great in the winter, and they keep you very warm with surprisingly little on underneath. If you wear wicking layers underneath the vents do a pretty good job of keeping you from overheating. If you're only riding three miles it won't be an issue at all. If it's cold and raining, your goal will be to stay dry. All of my cycling jackets cost me between $4 and $10 and my pants in the same range. They work great on my five mile commute. No way I'd ever spend a lot of money on bike specific rain gear.
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Old 11-05-11, 03:30 PM   #12
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So far, I haven't seen rain since I posted this thread, go figure.

My roommate actually got some hand-me-down clothes from a friend, and I am slightly smaller than her, so anything that didn't fit got passed to me. I got a few new shirts and the jackpot: snow pants!!

I'm pretty sure those should be waterproof, and they are for darn sure warm. Wearing my silk long underwear under my jeans with the snow pants over them is actually too warm, but I'd rather not sweat that little bit directly into my jeans and then remove the snowpants at work only to be wet.

Two pairs of socks in my sneakers is so far ok for my feet. Usually I like one pair to be knee socks- especially if it is above freezing, when I go without the snow pants. Wind likes to go up my pant legs and chill my calves.

My Faded Glory "snow gloves" from Walmart sucked very badly. I found all my fingertips numb and then hurting, instead of just my little outside pinkie finger, and also the fit was not enough to let my hand stretch to the brake handles. Wal-Mart's return policy is great even with no tags or receipt, and I exchanged them for $12 George leather gloves from the larger-sized guy section they finally put out that claim Thinsulate also (like I care after it didn't work in the other gloves). I put my kid gloves on and then pull these new gloves over and that seems to work great even down to 17F.

With my silk undershirt, I usually just put my windbreaker on over that. My arms are chilly for a while, but then I warm up. Without the silk I'll go for a sweater or longsleeves instead to be that extra barrier. I'm trusting that the water-proofing spray should work. With the snow pants, I think I should be pretty well-off if it rains, I think. The windbreaker does "breathe" badly though. I wonder if I could add the zippers in the armpits if that would fix the issue. When I get hot it tends to happen in a hurry.

On my head I just have a cheapy beanie winter hat. I use the thinner front pad in my skate-style Kryptonics helmet and that works just fine.

I may need to seriously consider those ski goggles someone mentioned. If the wind picks up a lot my eyes tear up badly. I still think a visor would be best to try and keep rain/snow from getting to my lenses (and face?) in the first place, but I might need to build one rather than trying to carry another hat to try to stuff under the helmet.

It snowed for the first time here on Thursday!

I actually rode to work in the flurries, occasionally sticking my tongue out to try to catch some, and I waved at everybody like a ninny. The roads were only wet, so that aspect was fine. It was a completely awesome ride.
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Old 11-07-11, 09:24 AM   #13
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For a 3 mile ride, I recommend you get a waterproof jacket and salopette combination to put over 'normal' clothes. I picked up an army surplus set, 3 layer goretex. the salopettes pull up over boots and trousers, then jacket over the top. Keeps out the rain, snow and wind. Then wear normal clothes underneath, no need to get some specialist cycling gear for 3miles.
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