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Old people commuting in bad weather....

Old 09-25-11, 07:21 PM
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Old people commuting in bad weather....

Is there anyone here that is over 50, and lives in the Northern climes who can give me some idea about what a reasonable goal would be for commuting? I have a decent bike. I have put a couple hundred miles on it this summer (after several decades off). I have decent cold-weather clothes, I am just nervous about the cold weather to come. I don't have good balance walking/standing because of hip surgery, but am pretty stable on the bike. I actually feel more stable on the bike than on foot. I certainly don't want to ride on packed snow or ice, which there will be plenty of for a few months, but I should have a couple of months before that happens. Any advice to help me get over my fears?
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Old 09-25-11, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Wreader View Post
Is there anyone here that is over 50, and lives in the Northern climes who can give me some idea about what a reasonable goal would be for commuting? I have a decent bike. I have put a couple hundred miles on it this summer (after several decades off). I have decent cold-weather clothes, I am just nervous about the cold weather to come. I don't have good balance walking/standing because of hip surgery, but am pretty stable on the bike. I actually feel more stable on the bike than on foot. I certainly don't want to ride on packed snow or ice, which there will be plenty of for a few months, but I should have a couple of months before that happens. Any advice to help me get over my fears?
Have you considered studded tires?

Personally, I draw the line at snow and ice (about 5-10 days a year in Seattle), but otherwise will ride in anything. I just carry rain gear and a spare sweater in my panniers, along with a spare pair of socks for work, just in case.
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Old 09-25-11, 07:50 PM
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I think I need fenders, which I don't have. I will have to look into that. I don't have to take much back and forth as I change into scrubs once I get to work. Basically, it would be a phone and a lunch and extra clothes for bad weather during the ride - like a rain coat or sweater, as you said. Extra socks is a good idea; in case you get splashed/soaked? I think I can strap anything I need to a little rack behind the seat. I have a headlight and blinking tail light, and reflective stuff to wear. I just need to do the ride a few times. I have ridden everywhere but to work for some reason (a hill on the way might be one reason).

btw- love your sig line.
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Old 09-25-11, 07:53 PM
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If you are not going to ride on packed snow or ice, then it isn't much different than riding in the warmer months. All you need are warmer clothes. keeping warm throughout your ride is a lot of trial and error but you will figure it out. Layers are key which is easy, what you wear on your feet is a little harder but can be done. As with most fears, confronting them in small doses can do wonders. Gradually build up the number of days you cycle and the distance traveled and with positive re-enforcement you will be an old hand at it (pun not intended).

I am 51 and I commute every day in Toronto, Canada. Rain, shine, snow or ice, I cycle to work. The way I motivate myself is I say to myself, taking public transit is not an option. Every morning I get up and I don't ask myself how I should get to work, I just get on my bike and go. But I also know this doesn't work for everybody. Some days are certainly more challenging than others. Those November rainy days just above freezing can be tough but they are not everyday. Other days the sun is shining, the leaves are changing colour, it is not to hot, so you don't get overheated and sweaty, these are the good days.

Figure out what works best for you and just do it.

Since I just read your above post after I posted, I think you are getting there. I work in a psychiatric hospital and change when I get to work. I keep extra clothes at work all the time, and things like deodorant, spare tooth brush etc. I also change into different shoes, as sometimes mine get wet on the ride in. I purchased a Shower Pass Elite 2.0 rain coat to minimize how wet I get and I most definitely have fenders. I have more lights than needed but I think the more the merrier. I use a Light and Motion Vis 360 on my helmet, 3 Planet Turbo Flashes for the rear plus a Light and Motion Stella 200 on flashing mode for the front. My courier bag has reflective fabric on the outside and I have reflective sidewalls on my tires. You can't say you didn't see me.

Last edited by blakcloud; 09-25-11 at 08:03 PM. Reason: added more information
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Old 09-25-11, 08:08 PM
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Sounds to me like you are ready to give it go. Have you thought of tackling your commute, and that hill, on a weekend morning as a trial? Are you good with head light now that it is dark later or earlier?
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Old 09-25-11, 08:10 PM
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Old 09-25-11, 08:16 PM
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I find the key to foul weather commuting is in keeping a good stiff pace.
It may be chilly out but I always arrive at home needing to cool off.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:23 PM
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I am on the near side of 50... when did that happen ?

I know quite a few folks here who are well past 50 who ride through our winters which do involve severe cold, ice, and snow and have been doing this myself for many years.

Once you have the right gear the rest is mindset an commitment... and many will think you should be committed for riding in the winter.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:38 PM
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50 ain't old (56 here).

Cold weather commuting isn't hard - depending on distance and pace, you'll warm up nicely after 10-15 minutes and may decide you are wearing too much. Layering is important, and a top wind-proof layer is vital, especially for core, head, hands, and feet. Since my legs are doing most of the work, I find I can get away with less there. If you can start now while the weather is milder, you can adjust to what is comfortable for you. I keep spare clothes at work in case so I don't have to ride in wet clothes if they don't dry out. SealSkinz makes some great waterproof socks that work quite well with my regular MTB shoes. Fenders are a good idea for wet weather.

After falling on an ice patch/rut a few years ago (recreational ride, too!), I added a 2nd set of wheels and mounted studded tires for my commuter so I can make a quick wheel switch on days I may need it. Packed/rutted snow remains a problem - a friend who uses a MTB year-round has it easier (I'm on a 'cross bike with skinnier tires than he uses). Last year, I had a 4-5 mile commute and could take plowed streets after a major storm instead of the unplowed bike path. This year, my commute is 11-12 miles, and all road. Unfortunately, a few sections are sufficiently sketchy without snow that I may be driving more often this winter.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:08 PM
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[QUOTE=gerv;13277815][ame]

Nice Gerv!

- Slim
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Old 09-25-11, 09:16 PM
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This was for my Cleveland Winter Commute:

Like my grandad used to say, "Always keep your head and your feet dry and warm"

I therefore, wore thick wool socks (2 pair) and wrapped my foot in saran wrap, before I put on my Timberland boots.

I wore a thick wool hat with a Russian fur hat on top of that. The Russian fur had ear flaps. I also wore a hoody under my short rain proof jacket, that was under my 3/4 length Down Coat. Of course, I wore thick fur lined leather gloves.

- Slim

You might wanna pad those hips real good just in case you do take a spill!

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Old 09-25-11, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Wreader View Post
Is there anyone here that is over 50, and lives in the Northern climes who can give me some idea about what a reasonable goal would be for commuting?
Fifty-four here, and I've succeeded in my entirely unreasonable goal to ride to and from work every workday for the past six years now.



So if you're looking for reasonable, don't ask me.

BTW, I too am considerably less clumsy on a bike than I am on foot or anywhere else. That's part of the reason I like cycling so much. Off the bike I'm always tripping over dust bunnies and walking into door frames. It gets tiresome.

Last edited by tsl; 09-26-11 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:38 PM
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Who you calling Old?
Fifties is middle-aged.
At least you didn't say Geezers.

Pretty much a three-season commuter, and that's only a couple of days a week.
Occasionally commute in the winter but the weather has to be unseasonal. Haven't ridden on ice/snow for a long time.
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Old 09-26-11, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Wreader View Post
Is there anyone here that is over 50, and lives in the Northern climes who can give me some idea about what a reasonable goal would be for commuting? I have a decent bike. I have put a couple hundred miles on it this summer (after several decades off). I have decent cold-weather clothes, I am just nervous about the cold weather to come. I don't have good balance walking/standing because of hip surgery, but am pretty stable on the bike. I actually feel more stable on the bike than on foot. I certainly don't want to ride on packed snow or ice, which there will be plenty of for a few months, but I should have a couple of months before that happens. Any advice to help me get over my fears?
I am 55 and commute year round in Northern Maine. It can be done with the correct bike gear (clothing and fenders, lights, studded tires, etc.). You didn't mention what kind of hip surgery. I do not feel more stable on my bike than on my feet - so I would check with your doctor about what his/her thoughts on your hip and falling. It is more likely to happen in the winter or at either end with ice...........so, it can be done but I think the key at our age is to "finish the race." I take fewer chances now so that I can continue into my 80s or 90s.........just my humble opinion. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 09-26-11, 07:21 AM
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First off, over 50 ain't old!! Past 75, you are GETTING OLD!! Around 80, one can then at least say a person is old.

With that said, I ride all year long, that is with the motorcycle and bicycle. Now, I ain't as good as some of those peeps around that can be out there in the snow and stuff, I just can get out there in the cold temps. I have been out in single digits, with motorcycle and bicycle.

You do have to have a TON of DESIRE first, then you have to know how to dress for it, you have to know how the bike will react in the elements, and you have to know how to fix your bike up if need be.

Other than that, peice of cake..
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Old 09-26-11, 07:22 AM
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I'm 57 years young and bike commute about 4 days a week, 22 miles/day, year-round. I live in NC, where the winters are pretty mild, so I don't have to deal with much snow and ice. I drive on days when the weather is bad, as it's not worth investing in studded tires for the limited amount of snow and ice we get here. However, I commute on plenty of days when morning temperatures are in the teens and 20s.

The main things you need to commute in winter include: a good light system (front and rear), fenders, and good cycling-specific winter clothes.
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Old 09-26-11, 11:06 AM
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Nice video Gerv, I live in Chicago and don't remember seeing that before.

You'll figure out what you need in the way of clothes, and you've got more leeway as to what works in the cold when you start layering. Think of what you'll need to stay warm and dry while exercising instead of standing still outside. The rest of the advice I'd offer has already been posted, give it a try and things wont be as bad as you might think - especially when you're no longer worrying about the meanderthals.
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Old 09-26-11, 04:08 PM
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cool video clip. Thanks. :-)
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Old 09-26-11, 04:18 PM
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thanks guys, this is very encouraging. I know how to dress for the cold - I have to be outside at least twice a day to take care of animals, and I snow-shoe (or used to) and at one time I ran sled dogs. I also grew up over a mile high, so I feel confident about dressing well and not being miserable from the cold. I am much more confident on the bike after only a couple of months back on it, and I foresee that getting better with more miles. Where I was panicky at making a turn a while ago, now I am negotiating the bike path with other riders, traffic barriers, and occasional road crossings with ease. I am going to look for fenders. I would probably rather get them online if that is easy, if not there is a bike shop not far from me. I am going to try the ride on my next day off so there is no pressure to get there within a certain time frame. I appreciate the good advice and encouragement. :-)
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Old 09-26-11, 04:29 PM
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this old geezer....

i'm 58. i am at the age where i won't bounce anymore- things will start breaking.
so....i pick my battles. no riding on ice, banked surfaces, or where the snowplows have left stuff along the road. even with all that i still only missed 1 day this past winter and 2 the winter before. i have an mtb with the treads as close to snow tires as i can afford.
i look way ahead so i have more time to react. i come off the traffic light late in case someone slides/drives through a red.

packed snow is best to ride on for me.

the best thing about winter riding is folks give me a LOT of room behind and beside me. i love them for that.

i also split the ride with the bus company.
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Old 09-26-11, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
Fifty-four here, and I've succeeded in my entirely unreasonable goal to ride to and from work every workday for the past six years now.



So if you're looking for reasonable, don't ask me.

BTW, I too am considerably less clumsy on a bike than I am on foot or anywhere else. That's part of the reason I like cycling so much. Off the bike I'm always tripping over dust bunnies and walking into door frames. It gets tiresome.

oh,man! love your ride! where'd you get the fenders? my bike has no eyelets.

i did forget to mention my v-brakes seizing up with ice. found out the hard way trying to stop for a light.
now i carry a stick and whack the brakes when stopped.
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Old 09-26-11, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ka0use View Post
oh,man! love your ride! where'd you get the fenders? my bike has no eyelets.

i did forget to mention my v-brakes seizing up with ice. found out the hard way trying to stop for a light.
now i carry a stick and whack the brakes when stopped.
Mine has eyelets. That pic is from a few years ago, my first winter with this bike. I'd shot my load on the bike itself and I couldn't afford wider fenders for the winter that year, so those are the SKS P-35 fenders that I ran that summer. These days, I use P-35 in the three seasons and P-45s when the studded snows go on at Thanksgiving.

My first bike had V-brakes. My first winter cured me of them.
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Old 09-26-11, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
Fifty-four here, and I've succeeded in my entirely unreasonable goal to ride to and from work every workday for the past six years now.



So if you're looking for reasonable, don't ask me.

BTW, I too am considerably less clumsy on a bike than I am on foot or anywhere else. That's part of the reason I like cycling so much. Off the bike I'm always tripping over dust bunnies and walking into door frames. It gets tiresome.
Is the gas station in the background there intentionally? It makes for a nice ironic background.
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Old 09-26-11, 06:51 PM
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Ride, runner!
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Old 09-26-11, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
Is the gas station in the background there intentionally? It makes for a nice ironic background.
It does, doesn't it? No, it wasn't planned. It's just what's across the street from the library where was working at the time. I wanted the snow-covered trees in the background, and Pegasus just sort of flew into the frame.
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