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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 12-01-12, 11:02 AM   #1
bikenh
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Cleats and snow

From my house to the road is a nice walk and once the snow flies like today I always end up getting snow accumulated in the cleats and it makes it hard to clip into the pedals...no I won't go to platform pedals. Last winter I used an old pair of socks and put them on top of the shoes/cleats to try to keep the snow out of the cleats. That gets to be a bit of problem if you are going in and out of places where the snow hasn't been shoveled yet, constantly putting them on taking them off. I know the possibility of use regular cleat covers but they seem like they would have the same problem. What do you guys use to keep the snow out of the cleats?
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Old 12-01-12, 12:49 PM   #2
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What kind of cleats/pedals?
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Old 12-01-12, 03:14 PM   #3
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Anecdotal, but I have a friend who switched from SPD's to Crank Brothers Eggbeaters because the SPD's would routinely clog up with mud.
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Old 12-01-12, 04:53 PM   #4
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From my house to the road is a nice walk and once the snow flies like today I always end up getting snow accumulated in the cleats and it makes it hard to clip into the pedals...no I won't go to platform pedals. Last winter I used an old pair of socks and put them on top of the shoes/cleats to try to keep the snow out of the cleats. That gets to be a bit of problem if you are going in and out of places where the snow hasn't been shoveled yet, constantly putting them on taking them off. I know the possibility of use regular cleat covers but they seem like they would have the same problem. What do you guys use to keep the snow out of the cleats?
I would just carry a small light metal tool to clean the cleats before you clip in. Perhaps if there is a telephone pole or a street sign you can lean your bike against and pack down an area of snow. Use the pole to help balance yourself as you clean one cleat then the other. If there is nothing around you can use your bike to help you balance while you clean each cleat and the pedals if necessary.

With some kind of a nylon shell over the socks you put over the shoes they will stay warmer and less snow and ice will stick to them.
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Old 12-01-12, 05:17 PM   #5
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I'm not sure if much can be done short of some sort of cleat cover you could easily pull off once you are ready to go. I've noticed going from inside to outside the cleats are warm and melt the snow you step on, then quickly as they cool it goes from water on the cleats to slush on the cleats to ice. I keep my bike in the garage and try to avoid stepping out of the garage into snow as I get my bike down, attach the bags and light battery, and finish putting on the last of my gear. If I need to step out into the snow I'll try walking on my heels to keep the cleats out of the snow until they cool off.

I've got into the habit of tapping the side of my foot against the pedal before I clip-in if I have to put my foot down in the snow. It knocks snow off both my boot and out of the pedal.
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Old 12-02-12, 01:48 PM   #6
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I'm using SPD pedals.

I agree on tapping the shoe/cleat on both the ground and the pedal. I didn't know if someone had a little trick that they used for keeping the snow out or not. I know the first winter '10-'11 I just always walked out to the end of the driveway and onto the road with a separate pair of shoes and then changed into the biking shoes once I got out there. Granted that winter, the first one, I was being a little bit of a whimp on biking. My attitude that winter was I wouldn't go biking until 2 days after any storm past through. I knew by then the roads would be clear. Last winter I tried keeping the attitude of staying off the roads as long as the snowplows were out clearing the roads and I changed to using the sock on top of the shoe for the walk out. This winter so far anything is going. I left home yesterday with the snow flying and in the evening I had snowplows chasing me down for one the climbs on the way home. Heck I was evening losing traction and had the tire slip on me twice while going up the climb...admittedly I was climbing out of the saddle. I know after last winter and what I've seen so far this winter that things have really changed. I've gotten FAR more ballsy then I used to be. I remember the ride on Thursday this past week. I left home under cloudy skies...the forecast was for the slight possibility of snow to the south of me...the direction I was heading for. I got down that way and ended up riding in falling snow for 30 miles. Two years ago I would have been scared crapless at the sign of the first snow flurry, last Thursday I didn't think a thing about it even though I was 30+ miles from home.
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Old 12-03-12, 01:19 PM   #7
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I'm using SPD pedals.

I agree on tapping the shoe/cleat on both the ground and the pedal. I didn't know if someone had a little trick that they used for keeping the snow out or not. I know the first winter '10-'11 I just always walked out to the end of the driveway and onto the road with a separate pair of shoes and then changed into the biking shoes once I got out there. Granted that winter, the first one, I was being a little bit of a whimp on biking. My attitude that winter was I wouldn't go biking until 2 days after any storm past through. I knew by then the roads would be clear. Last winter I tried keeping the attitude of staying off the roads as long as the snowplows were out clearing the roads and I changed to using the sock on top of the shoe for the walk out. This winter so far anything is going. I left home yesterday with the snow flying and in the evening I had snowplows chasing me down for one the climbs on the way home. Heck I was evening losing traction and had the tire slip on me twice while going up the climb...admittedly I was climbing out of the saddle. I know after last winter and what I've seen so far this winter that things have really changed. I've gotten FAR more ballsy then I used to be. I remember the ride on Thursday this past week. I left home under cloudy skies...the forecast was for the slight possibility of snow to the south of me...the direction I was heading for. I got down that way and ended up riding in falling snow for 30 miles. Two years ago I would have been scared crapless at the sign of the first snow flurry, last Thursday I didn't think a thing about it even though I was 30+ miles from home.
You are a ballsy character indeed. I like your approach. I love to go in snow too but when the plow comes along I chicken out and pull over to let them by. I can't keep up with that on my mountain bike with studded tires but it sure is a blast riding in snow. I also switch to toe clips for winter and hiking boots but my commute is only 11 miles one way. Your travels appear to be much longer so how do you keep warm with cycling shoes and clipless pedals?
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Old 12-03-12, 03:30 PM   #8
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You are a ballsy character indeed. I like your approach. I love to go in snow too but when the plow comes along I chicken out and pull over to let them by. I can't keep up with that on my mountain bike with studded tires but it sure is a blast riding in snow. I also switch to toe clips for winter and hiking boots but my commute is only 11 miles one way. Your travels appear to be much longer so how do you keep warm with cycling shoes and clipless pedals?
It's not that hard. I use wool socks and booties. The secret is to ride in it like you would during the summer months. If you only ride a short distance you don't get the chance for you body to adjust to the conditions. You have to let yor body get the chance to adjust. Once it adjusts you won't feel the cold/be cold anymore. Right now I do notice cold toes at times, but those times are getting fewer and fewer between as the winter progresses. I remember it wasn't until mid January last winter that I really stopped having much trouble with cold feet. Were they cold, probably yes, did I notice them being cold, no. The body gets used to being in the environment and it adjusts. I don't really remember ever having much in the way of cold hands last winter after I switched to wool mittens. This winter with a much nicer pair of wool mittens I've already had cold hands, simply because the body hasn't had the chance to adjust yet. If you are out riding, 2+hours each day all fall into winter, by the time January arrives you won't notice the cold anymore. It does take patience this time of the year as the body adjusts.
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Old 12-04-12, 08:47 AM   #9
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It's not that hard. I use wool socks and booties. The secret is to ride in it like you would during the summer months. If you only ride a short distance you don't get the chance for you body to adjust to the conditions. You have to let yor body get the chance to adjust. Once it adjusts you won't feel the cold/be cold anymore. Right now I do notice cold toes at times, but those times are getting fewer and fewer between as the winter progresses. I remember it wasn't until mid January last winter that I really stopped having much trouble with cold feet. Were they cold, probably yes, did I notice them being cold, no. The body gets used to being in the environment and it adjusts. I don't really remember ever having much in the way of cold hands last winter after I switched to wool mittens. This winter with a much nicer pair of wool mittens I've already had cold hands, simply because the body hasn't had the chance to adjust yet. If you are out riding, 2+hours each day all fall into winter, by the time January arrives you won't notice the cold anymore. It does take patience this time of the year as the body adjusts.
How I would love to have the time to do that! I reduce my cycling so that the time spent is about the same. That's usually cutting a ~55min 30km ride down to 20 at this time of year, and by the time snow flies and the real cold comes out, probably ~10 considering I have to include the driving time

That said, I've had times where I put my foot down and it won't click, I just gently tap my cleat on the side of the pedal and that's usually enough!

Why are you guys walking down the laneway? Bike it! What are you doing with the extra shoe when you're on the road, throwing them on your front porch? I would hate to have my hands and feet out in the cold sitting in snow to swap shoes, then tie up the neoprene covers, then put my gloves back on. A quick tap and click does the trick for me. Running SPD's.

Roby!
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Old 12-04-12, 11:35 AM   #10
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The first year I would put the spare shoes in a pack I carried on a homemade rear rack.

I have to agree about the cold hands but it never took that long to start with. The first year I was always been a bit of a whimp and I was only going out to run errands on the nicer days. If it was snowing even threating of snowing I would stay home. Now I've grown up and don't mind riding in the snow like I use to.

Most times the tap and click concept works sometimes I found just riding and letting the snow 'melt' or whatever worked as well. I have carried smaller items with me in the past to clean out the cleats when nothing else works.

I have a steeper driveway, going up to the road. It's not paved so I don't even ride up or down it during the summer months. Since I live on a side road, not a highway sometimes it doesn't get cleaned up as fast as the highway does. Sometimes when it's a light dusting like a couple of days ago they don't even bother to come out and instead just let Mother Nature take care of the roads for them. It's not a heavily travelled road so you don't get the cars going over the snow to help melt the snow like you do on the highways. Walking out to the end of the driveway can still leave me with snow on what used to be pavement until they came out and ground it down to a stone/dirt road early on this past summer. If you get wetter snow versus the light fluffy snow then it will stick to the cleat. Fortunately my driveway is only 100 feet, roughly, from the highway intersection so I can walk up to where the highway is more quickly/better maintained and be able to tap on either the pavement or the pedal and get the snow out, most of the time.
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Old 12-04-12, 11:54 AM   #11
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I would second the recommendation for CB vs SPD. Not as cheap or durable, but I rarely have issues with them clogging in the winter. My wife, who rides shimano pedals, has more of an issue. Probably not perfect, but definitely better.
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Old 12-04-12, 01:38 PM   #12
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you answered your own question. cleat covers are made for exactly that purpose. (and to allow you walk without sliding all over the place{speedplay**)
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Old 12-04-12, 02:15 PM   #13
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How can you all use cycling shoes in the winter. Unless your temps are higher than mine, I need wool socks and full waterproof insulated hiking boots or I will freeze up. I know bikeNH mentions he gets used to it but are you still cold and it just doesn't bother you?
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Old 12-04-12, 03:04 PM   #14
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chemical toe warmers and shoe covers work in VT. I do have to limit my rides to about 90 minutes or so
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Old 12-04-12, 04:49 PM   #15
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winter biking in upstate NY here, and I cycle throughout the winter, but in regular cycling shoes even with wool socks my feet turn to blocks of ice -- must have been all that playing outside too long in the winter as a kid.

I bought a pair of Lake winter cycling boots a couple years ago, throw in a chemical warmer with wool socks and now my feet stay nice and warm the entire ride, even on century rides, makes them a lot more enjoyable.
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Old 12-04-12, 10:54 PM   #16
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I have some moderately warm (goretex lined) bike shoes. I forget the exact model; unfortunately, shimano stopped selling them in the US, so you have to buy them from Europe. I would not ride in them for more than a couple hours in less than 20F weather. But for commuting in Madison WI, they are great. I feel scared without foot retention (esp when snow makes pedals slippery) and have knee issues, so clipless is the way for me.
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Old 12-05-12, 02:03 PM   #17
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like #3,

I'd think Time ATAC, and Crank Brothers Egg Beaters pedals, would clear their way into their cleats
better than Shimano's type..

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-05-12 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 12-05-12, 04:35 PM   #18
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The first winter I always had cold feet. This time last winter I had cold feet but was in the process thanks to listen to some of the guys here on the message board about switching over to wool socks(bought mine in the hunting department at Wal-Mart), and adding in neoprene booties. For the few weeks I had cool feet but after that I didn't notice the cold at all. At the start of sub zero days I would notice it until I got warmed up but after that I would say my feet were chilled but they weren't cold, nothing like they used to be. I don't use heat packs. One big key I think, which I'm noticing I'm having a problem doing this year for some reason is keeping the feet dry. I think the drier you keep the feet the warmer they will be...quite naturally. This past week I've been cleaning the bike every freakin night after riding thanks to the wet conditions that weren't around for the most part last winter. Heck I was out in rain and 40-45 degrees for about 20-25 minutes this morning and then the sun tried to come back out before it turned back overcast and the wind picked up and the temps started dropping and by the time I was coming home it was snowing. It was snowing as I came into the library 30 minutes or so ago. Guess I'll be doing more bike cleanup when I get home tonight again. Granted I have some chain work to do. I have a sticky link or a bent link. Didn't notice it yesterday but was noticing from the get go this morning.
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