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Unexpected Rain at 32

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Unexpected Rain at 32

Old 01-23-24, 07:29 AM
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Unexpected Rain at 32

Here in Colorado Springs it has been dry lately with highs approaching 50F and overnight lows in the upper teens. My go to weather sources Weather Underground and Meteored had been starting the last two days with rain threats, but then removing them. So I've been riding my fendered bikes, but not the one with studded snow and ice tires.

I usually leave work by 5pm and arrive home by 5:40. Yesterday I left after nightfall at 5:20. A warm, sunny day had turned foggy and misty after lunch and there was moisture on the pavement. I had my 700x35 smoothies on my main commuter, and I had just pumped them up to 95psi yesterday morning.

It was still misting when I left but the wet pavement was still grippy. I had my rain cape in my commute bag, but didn't feel I needed it yet. Then about halfway home the temperature dropped to around 32F and I could feel the tires loosing grip. I considered stopping and dropping the tire pressure, but after another couple of minutes the pavement became dry and remained so for another mile, after which it was wet again, but the temperature had risen to 36F.

Being right at the base of the foothills to Pikes Peak, and having very uneven topography often leads to very localized changes in weather conditions with lots of changes over my relatively short 6 mile commute. My old 9 mile commute was parallel to the mountains and would often have three different weather zones when it wasn't clear and dry. My current 6 mile commute rakes me towards the mountains (and back) but has three to four zones, depending on the route, and they are far more pronounced then the old route.

When I know (or suspect) it's gonna be frosty out I take my MTB with the 26x1.65 studded snow tires. Even if there's no need for the studs, the softer, wider, grippier tires provide good stability, especially with the tire pressure lowered.
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Old 01-24-24, 06:55 AM
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The next morning I took the MTB with the Suomi Nokian W106 26x1.65 studded snow and ice tires. The middle section of the commute in to work was frosted and iced.

It warmed again during the day and for the dry ride home I pumped the tires up to 70psi (65psi is the stated max). The bike was almost 2mph faster overall and felt about as light and lively as a ~45lb bike could. Still about 1mph slower than my lighter commuters.
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Old 01-25-24, 07:49 PM
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One early morning winter commute I made the mistake of thinking, "oh, it's 36 there's no ice," and then taking the aluminum boardwalk on the trail at much too high a speed; I hit the turn and felt my rear tire slip sideways on a patch of ice (because of course; aluminum in the cold) and immediately catch again. I immediately slowed and took the rest of the ride at a much more moderate pace. Cheap lesson; near freezing is cold enough.
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Old 01-25-24, 09:09 PM
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My practice from years of commuting - if it might be wet, go with grippy rubber tires not pumped hard. Drop pressure if conditions warrant (or might in the remainder of the ride). Some of my favorite tires (non-studded; studded was not to be found in stores most of my commuting years) were cyclocross tires.

Might be ice? I drop the pressures so low I have to ride slower to not pinch flat, dent rims or have my ties squirm out on a corner. Sucks - until I hit that ice. Then it's "Thank you!"
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Old 03-01-24, 10:28 AM
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“700x35 smoothies on my main commuter, and I had just pumped them up to 95psi”

”…1.65” (42mm) … 70psi”

holy crap. That is wild. I did that sort of thing back when I BMX’ed at skateparks & halfpipes a lot as a kid. It was great for a precise mechanical feel on ramps, getting bigger airs off & back on the ramps, and also (predictable priority for a teen) silly easy long fishtailed out skids on warm dry pavement (not really ideal for an adult intending on getting to work by bicycle on time & injury-free in <60°F weather).

I’m at 85F/95R on 23mm tires on Monday mornings with the intent of not pumping them up again till Friday morning at the earliest. 45F/55R on 32mm tires on Monday mornings.

Do your tires “Ping” like brand new school basketballs when you flick them with your finger?
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