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Winter Commuting: Fun, Practical, or the act of a fanatic?

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Winter Commuting: Fun, Practical, or the act of a fanatic?

Old 12-23-09, 10:09 AM
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tjspiel
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Winter Commuting: Fun, Practical, or the act of a fanatic?

It's all three for me but the mix varies depending on the day.

On the practical side, I love the fact that I get a good workout while I would otherwise be sitting in my car or on a train. I also don't have to worry about parking and I can ride right up to the door of the building. With public transport or driving, there's some walking involved at the end of the commute.

Some winter days are truly fun and it's often very pretty in the winter.

Other days, it's a matter of momentum. Riding is how I get to work.

When it's -20 F, fanaticism is one of the big motivators.
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Old 12-23-09, 10:23 AM
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Here in the City, it gets pretty nuts. On the edges of traffic, where it is we cyclists live, there's snow and ice. So you're jinking a bit.
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Old 12-23-09, 10:31 AM
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I just posted this in the "Isn't it too cold to ride" thread:

I have to take a bus and the subway to commute. In bad weather NYC buses are terribly delayed. There is no way to time it, schedules here are just sheets of paper without meaning. It wasn't uncommon to wait 40-60 minutes for a bus in Brooklyn or Queens in freezing weather or in rain and slush. Often I opted to walk home to keep warm. Somewhere there it occurred to me: why even bother with the mass transit? Ride a bike. I was amazed how fast I can get by on a bike and actually enjoy my commute.

My regular commute on a good day would be 45-50 minutes. In winter 1:30h or worse. Then if the train breaks down or there is any problem with the subway system it could be 2h or worse. Not to mention miserable conditions, crowded and stinky cars, lack of AC in summer, etc. My bike commute is 35 minutes on a sunny, dry day and 45-55 minutes in bad weather and Winter. Always predictable. On nice days I take long detour through Brooklyn to enjoy a longer ride and get more workout. I'd rather sweat while pedaling out in the open than sweat while stuck under the ground on a crowded train with malfunctioning AC.

Oh, and there are the "Express buses" that are like $6 or $7 each way and take 1:30h

I just feel um... happier if I commute by bike, regardless of the weather

It's practical, it makes sense to me, it's fun. There is nothing crazy about this.

Adam
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Old 12-23-09, 10:52 AM
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It's easily all three for me. I HATE the streetcar, all packed up at rush hour. As it's on rails ..one wrong thing along the line and you're screwed. Waiting outside for one in the winter? I'll pass thanks. Money not spent is over 100bucks a month. I mean I'd ride anyway regardless, even with good transit service. I'm faster than anything else on the road being in the city. I can be at work in the time I might wait, becomes a no-brainer there. I LOVE winter riding.
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Old 12-23-09, 11:27 AM
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Fastest, cheapest, and most reliable method.

Usually fun.

Usually.
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Old 12-23-09, 11:35 AM
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What tjspiel said...
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Old 12-23-09, 11:43 AM
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When the temps drop down below minus 10 with the sides of the road filled with salt and sand and snow and ice, it becomes a battle between me and mother nature. I find myself cursing the weather and challenging it do a battle of wits.

I often flash back to lieutenant Dan and shrimp boat during a hurricane from "Forrest Gump" , it reminds me of myself on my commute through a foot of fresh snow and temps that can freeze snot before it hits the ground.
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Old 12-23-09, 12:00 PM
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Definitely all of the above.

Fun: Cycling as fast as you can through powder snow deeper than your rims with both tires slipping makes you feel like a kid again.

Practical: It would be more of a pain to park my car in the driveway, plug it in, warm it up and then drive to work than it is to gear up and ride (imho). Also factor in that my commute by car can be rather hellishly slow in the winter. There are several lights that require 2-3 cycles to clear, the thought of sitting in a car in that kind've traffic just hurts my brain. Over all it's longer by bike by about 10minutes, but I'm always moving.

The workout thing is pretty huge. I'm a lazy ass and can't be motived to actually exercise any other way.

Fanatical: My commute last night was definately fanatical. It had snowed solid all day. There were times I had to shoulder my bike and walk it. I had to modify my route as some roads were pure suicidal (heavy traffic + heavy snow). A cop jumped out at me on one particular trail assuming I was a snowmobile. Oh, but I learned that a balaclava is like a built in hands free and fully compatible with all brands of cell phones.

I've commuted in -34C and was shocked at how easy and comfortable it can be. A fact I've been completely unable to convince anyone else of.

Winter commuting rocks. Plus it's allowed me to actually save money bike commuting as I've dropped my insurance on my car to pleasure use only. We were taking my car to the company christmas party the other night and my wife asked me if there was gas in it. I replied, "oh yeah, I filled it in like November".
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Old 12-23-09, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Pig_Chaser View Post
We were taking my car to the company christmas party the other night and my wife asked me if there was gas in it. I replied, "oh yeah, I filled it in like November".
LOL, unless I drive 200+ miles out of town to hike or camp I fill up once a month or less too

A.
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Old 12-23-09, 12:35 PM
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car ... car ....oh I used to have couple of those
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Old 12-23-09, 12:47 PM
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fanatical. but I still do it sometimes...the truck is just so darn toasty this time of year.
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Old 12-23-09, 12:49 PM
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definitely fun and practical. So far in the winter (this my first one commuting - so maybe I speak to early), I see the only challenge (-where it sometimes turns into fanaticism) the debacle of snow/ice. Take the big road with the crazy cars but no ice/snow or the small, little side street with few cars and lots of snow and ice. So far I decided for the latter... and then just when you try to maneuver thru some slush/snow pile... a car shows up. :-(
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Old 12-23-09, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
I just posted this in the "Isn't it too cold to ride" thread:

I have to take a bus and the subway to commute. In bad weather NYC buses are terribly delayed. There is no way to time it, schedules here are just sheets of paper without meaning. It wasn't uncommon to wait 40-60 minutes for a bus in Brooklyn or Queens in freezing weather or in rain and slush. Often I opted to walk home to keep warm. Somewhere there it occurred to me: why even bother with the mass transit? Ride a bike. I was amazed how fast I can get by on a bike and actually enjoy my commute.

My regular commute on a good day would be 45-50 minutes. In winter 1:30h or worse. Then if the train breaks down or there is any problem with the subway system it could be 2h or worse. Not to mention miserable conditions, crowded and stinky cars, lack of AC in summer, etc. My bike commute is 35 minutes on a sunny, dry day and 45-55 minutes in bad weather and Winter. Always predictable. On nice days I take long detour through Brooklyn to enjoy a longer ride and get more workout. I'd rather sweat while pedaling out in the open than sweat while stuck under the ground on a crowded train with malfunctioning AC.

Oh, and there are the "Express buses" that are like $6 or $7 each way and take 1:30h

I just feel um... happier if I commute by bike, regardless of the weather

It's practical, it makes sense to me, it's fun. There is nothing crazy about this.

Adam
Thanks for saving me time Adam. Just substitute Boston for NYC in the above quote and I would have written the exact same, even the commuting times via transit and bike.
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Old 12-23-09, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JPprivate View Post
definitely fun and practical. So far in the winter (this my first one commuting - so maybe I speak to early), I see the only challenge (-where it sometimes turns into fanaticism) the debacle of snow/ice. Take the big road with the crazy cars but no ice/snow or the small, little side street with few cars and lots of snow and ice. So far I decided for the latter... and then just when you try to maneuver thru some slush/snow pile... a car shows up. :-(
Do you have studded tires? Once you try them, you'll seek out the iciest side streets just for the ice. Slush and snow are fine for the challenge, but I don't go out of my way to find the deep stuff (Though I'm thinking of outfitting my Hoo Koo E Koo Disc with Nokian Extremes just for Blizzard conditions and Winter fun in the woods).

The thing I'm always looking to avoid is very thin layers of slush with water on top. Too soft and thin for your studs to save you and not enough depth for your tread to help you either.
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Old 12-23-09, 02:19 PM
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Definitely all of the above. I enjoy the fresh air. I get to park my vehicle IN my office (don't try that with a car). and most people would think that I am a fanatic. Do far this Winter season weather has kept me off the bike only once due to weather. I just won't ride in wind that was 35MPH with gusts up to 60 MPH. The next day the wind died down to 25 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH, and that was fine. It was a slow ride into work, but a FAST ride home. Here in Buffalo NY the temperatures don't get that extreme. In summer we rarely break 90F and in the winter usually only get to around 0F once or twice (not including wind chill). Riding in the low single digits does require a little more care in covering up all skin, but realy isn't a big deal. Frequent lake effect snow is the biggest holdup for cycling. If we just got hammered with a foot or two of snow between 3:00 am and 7:00 am, the roads may be plowed, but not clear enough for cycling. The good news is that by the next day the roads are usually in excellent shape. I tend to lose about 1 day every other week due to heave snow during January through February. During Nov-December and March-April snow fall is much less frequent so I lose about 1 day every 3rd or 4th week due to unreasonable riding weather.

Happy Winter riding,
André
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Old 12-23-09, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by RaleighComp View Post
Thanks for saving me time Adam. Just substitute Boston for NYC in the above quote and I would have written the exact same, even the commuting times via transit and bike.
I heard Boston is more bike friendly than NYC though.

Adam
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Old 12-23-09, 02:27 PM
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Winter Commuting: Fun, Practical, or the act of a fanatic?
Yes.
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Old 12-23-09, 02:42 PM
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RaleighComp: I do have studded tires N 106w, which I just put on a week or so ago. I guess I haven't gained confidence yet. The problem though is, it's not nice a sheet of ice, it's more of a very rugged layer of ice and snow, very uneven...
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Old 12-23-09, 03:18 PM
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All the above. My plant manager told me this morning that every time he sees me in crappy weather he says "Wow, that SOB is tough".
If he only knew.
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Old 12-23-09, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by JPprivate View Post
RaleighComp: I do have studded tires N 106w, which I just put on a week or so ago. I guess I haven't gained confidence yet. The problem though is, it's not nice a sheet of ice, it's more of a very rugged layer of ice and snow, very uneven...
Yeah, the uneven stuff is tricky. The lack of consistency means you're making constant corrections. Sometimes you can't even tell if it's hard, you don't know if you're going over it or through it until your front wheel tells you the verdict. The plus side, is your sense of balance gets more and more refined from winter commuting. I take my family on a ski vacation every February and last year(my first Winter riding) I was pleasantly surprised how better-than-ever my balance felt on skis, even though I've been skiing for a long time.

Sometimes biking in bad conditions, one of the Cardinal rules of Mountain Biking comes into play:


"The slower you go, the faster things happen."
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Old 12-23-09, 04:20 PM
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Once you conquer the cold, and add studded tires. Winter riding is a piece of cake. I enjoy the peace and quiet at 4am when I'm riding with a light snow falling. Realizing that there's not to many folks out here doing this. And the looks on drivers faces' when they see you riding in this cold weather. But hey. It's still early, and it only gets worse from here on out.
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Old 12-23-09, 04:27 PM
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Biking through Minnesota or other comparable winters can be a matter of pride to me. Sure, it's good exercise and I save a ton of money, but on those -40 snowy days, it's a matter of pride.
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Old 12-23-09, 04:29 PM
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express bus for $7 that takes a n hour and 30 minutes hahahahaha
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Old 12-23-09, 05:40 PM
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Winter or summer my problem would be the same. Three buses and an hour and a half to get to work or a forty-five minute bicycle ride.
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Old 12-23-09, 05:49 PM
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Fun, practical or the act of a fanatic ? For me it's all three of them. But when the weather turns nasty it's definetly fanaticism. Or when I ride a century++, on a fixed gear I think that's also fanaticism.
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