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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 12-13-13, 08:46 PM   #1
vol
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Tips for riding in snow?

It will be snowing tomorrow in NY but I have to bike commute (don't want to take subway). My bike is a hybrid with 700x35c. Any tips about safe riding in snow on city streets (during snowfall and with accumulation on the streets, though accumulation shouldn't be too bad until when I've finished my trip)? Thanks
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Old 12-13-13, 09:12 PM   #2
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Take it slow and steady. No fast turns or movements, have lights and reflective gear and have a back up plan if you have to bail. I did the walk of shame when I felt it was too dangerous for me to continue the other day and am glad in retrospect that I did.
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Old 12-13-13, 09:19 PM   #3
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Take it slow and steady. No fast turns or movements, have lights and reflective gear and have a back up plan if you have to bail. I did the walk of shame when I felt it was too dangerous for me to continue the other day and am glad in retrospect that I did.
Thank you for the tips. I'm mainly worried about the cars, but hopefully not many of them on a snowy Saturday Sorry for the walk of shame

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Old 12-13-13, 09:23 PM   #4
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Chunder, that beat-up floury kind of snow on the road, is annoying as heck.

Be zen and trust in your balance. Pilot with your momentum, and don't panic when your bike seems to be moving forward but not quite in the line of your front wheel. Be light on the controls and let it float a little.

Stay as dry as you can. Especially if you're riding in non-winter kit. Cotton kills.
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Old 12-13-13, 09:26 PM   #5
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That wasn’t the walk of shame. That was The Walk Of Smart.
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Old 12-14-13, 08:03 PM   #6
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Chunder, that beat-up floury kind of snow on the road, is annoying as heck.

Be zen and trust in your balance. Pilot with your momentum, and don't panic when your bike seems to be moving forward but not quite in the line of your front wheel. Be light on the controls and let it float a little.

Stay as dry as you can. Especially if you're riding in non-winter kit. Cotton kills.
Beautiful advice.
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Old 12-14-13, 08:14 PM   #7
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Perhaps it's easier/safer to ride in thick accumulation of snow than when the street is just covered by a thin film of snow?
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Old 12-14-13, 08:51 PM   #8
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Perhaps it's easier/safer to ride in thick accumulation of snow than when the street is just covered by a thin film of snow?
If the start of the snowfall was slushy or wet then froze, watch out! A small amount of dry snow is usually mellow otherwise.
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Old 12-14-13, 08:53 PM   #9
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Chunder, that beat-up floury kind of snow on the road, is annoying as heck.

Be zen and trust in your balance. Pilot with your momentum, and don't panic when your bike seems to be moving forward but not quite in the line of your front wheel. Be light on the controls and let it float a little.

Stay as dry as you can. Especially if you're riding in non-winter kit. Cotton kills.
I concur. Beautiful advice.
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Old 12-15-13, 09:14 PM   #10
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You may also be too tall on your bike. I brought my seat down about 1.5 inches, and I had less pedaling power, but 100% more confidence.

Also, go on an empty side street or an open field where you can tear it up for awhile. Turn hard and even wipe out a few times. Learn your limits. Riding in the snow is a different skill, and there's no substitute for lots of practice.
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Old 12-16-13, 01:46 AM   #11
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Stay in a low gear and pedal at a fairly high cadence. Make sure it's a gear that you like because you might end up stuck in it if the derailleur ices over.
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Old 12-16-13, 10:09 PM   #12
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Stay in a low gear and pedal at a fairly high cadence. Make sure it's a gear that you like because you might end up stuck in it if the derailleur ices over.
Yes, and keep the stroke smooth and power output stable; sudden jabs of power can break wheel loose and cause untimely front end lightening. Which reminds me: keep the front end weighted. Stay loose and let it ride, but shift some weight forward if possible and let that front wheel dig down, bite in, and hold the line.
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Old 12-17-13, 05:58 AM   #13
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Chunder, that beat-up floury kind of snow on the road, is annoying as heck.

"Chunder" on top of hard packed snow and ice is what we have here right now, I can't afford a fall so I wimped out and stayed off the bike.
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Old 12-17-13, 12:16 PM   #14
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You may want to have a back up route in mind that goes where the plow and salt. Try to avoid sidewalks and bicycle paths because they are untreated and sometimes can be very rough especially if it freezes.

Case in point, last week it snowed, melted a little and then froze. My regular route includes to small bike paths. They froze hard and I slid and took a bad fall. It hurt a lot. Avoid this if you can!

During the work day I found another route that I could take that did not include the bike paths. It was much safer.
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Old 12-17-13, 12:55 PM   #15
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Try to avoid sidewalks and bicycle paths because they are untreated and sometimes can be very rough especially if it freezes.
Yes. Yesterday when I rode on the streets there was hard frozen snow/ice on the side making the streets/avenues narrower, so I had to ride where cars usually go. I just hope all the drivers understand why we are riding in their lanes and be aware that if they are too close to us cyclists we'll have no way to go except falling on ice and be run over by the cars.
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Old 12-17-13, 01:14 PM   #16
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Studded tires are great for the freeze/thaw icy stuff.
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Old 12-17-13, 08:17 PM   #17
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A light dry snow is manageable up to an inch or so. Any more than that if tracked down by cars etc. gets very treacherous. You can be going along and your front wheel darts all over and floats then sinks and slides, and you keep falling over. Its just plain aggravating and very dangerous when in traffic. I always wait for the plows to clean things up, (my commute is way too long), and the salt to start melting or slushing things up some. It is much easier when it gets real slushy so your tires can bust through to the pavement easily. Also when it freezes up solid it gets easier because you can stay on top of the frozen stuff. As long as you have studs. Best of luck and don't be afraid to walk those sections that give you this type of trouble.
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Old 12-17-13, 08:23 PM   #18
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And just to support the "best to be safe" voices, btw, I also chose to take the T rather than ride through 1"+/hr here in Boston this evening. There's HTFU and then there's "I gotta be able to go to work tomorrow".
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Old 12-18-13, 08:57 PM   #19
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Is it just me but I cannot plow through snow, studs or not.
I ride in the snow, but only where it's been plowed or packed down by cars. My 26" mtb wears Nokia Mount and Ground tires.
Do you guys really ride in snow over an inch or two deep?
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Old 12-18-13, 10:15 PM   #20
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Do you guys really ride in snow over an inch or two deep?
With my Surly Moonlander and it's 4.8" wide tires I do.
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Old 12-19-13, 06:35 AM   #21
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Is it just me but I cannot plow through snow, studs or not.
I ride in the snow, but only where it's been plowed or packed down by cars. My 26" mtb wears Nokia Mount and Ground tires.
Do you guys really ride in snow over an inch or two deep?
It depends on the type of snow. 2" of powder, freshly fallen on clear roads, is one of the most fun snows to ride on, but 2" of heavy, wet, slushy snow over crunchy, two day old snow is a pain.

Oh, and distance is crucial, because conditions you may be able to struggle through for 3-4 miles might be hellish at 13 miles.

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Old 12-21-13, 06:53 PM   #22
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With my Surly Moonlander and it's 4.8" wide tires I do.
See, this is my argument as to why *I* need a Moonlander, but husband says "nooooo, we can't fit it with the rest of the bikes/Bob trailer/etc."
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Old 12-21-13, 07:13 PM   #23
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It depends on the type of snow. 2" of powder, freshly fallen on clear roads, is one of the most fun snows to ride on, but 2" of heavy, wet, slushy snow over crunchy, two day old snow is a pain.

Oh, and distance is crucial, because conditions you may be able to struggle through for 3-4 miles might be hellish at 13 miles.
Correct. At 6" your pedals hit the snow. Tried to go 1.5 miles in 6" deep. Did not quite make it halfway. One other problem of course is drifting.
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Old 12-30-13, 02:16 PM   #24
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Does anyone suggest the zip tie trick around your wheels for added traction??
I wimped out on my ride to work, 3.3 miles due to the hard pack snow/ice combo with the knobbys on my 29" hardtail.
I have plenty of panduit zip ties but wanted to hear from someone who's done this??

Thanks!
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Old 12-30-13, 02:29 PM   #25
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Which reminds me: keep the front end weighted. Stay loose and let it ride, but shift some weight forward if possible and let that front wheel dig down, bite in, and hold the line.
Sorry but this is wrong. Riding snow is like riding sand. A front wheel that digs down will become hard to control and keep moving forward because you lose momentum and the bike holds the line too much because the wheel is trapped. The front tire should float as much as possible.
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