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There is a limit...

Old 12-11-14, 05:59 AM
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mcours2006
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There is a limit...

As much as I would love to be able to commute by bicycle all year round today was the day that I had to draw the line.

Overnight some 10cm of snow had fallen. I deliberated for a good 10 minutes as to whether or not to ride. I made the decision to do it. Got all my gear on. Got out the foul weather bike with the 35mm spiked tires and fenders. The roads had not been cleared. I rode for about 1km and then decided to turn back. The bike was too unstable, even at low speed. I had to hang on to the handlebar quite tightly. The back end was also all over the place. I decided it was too dangerous and wasn't worth the risk. This is my limit.

So those of you who have to commute a good 10+miles, how do you deal with it under these conditions?
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Old 12-11-14, 06:23 AM
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That's good you knew your limit and didn't force the issue. I'd have drove in under those conditions too. Fresh snow is tough! After it's packed down by traffic it becomes much easier.
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Old 12-11-14, 06:26 AM
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I dont ride when there is snow or ice. But that is just me. A guy that works in the offices down the hall from me rides until the snow is just too deep to ride through.
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Old 12-11-14, 08:25 AM
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I make no apologies for driving when I consider the weather unsafe or just too nasty for riding. I tried riding once in the snow/sleet and fell over within the first 100 yards, and I was on a mountain bike with knobby tires. I don't even consider it now, particularly since a snowy winter for us is 1-2 storms. I also won't ride if the weather is too rainy, windy, foggy or otherwise undesirable. I'm not a pro getting paid to ride, and I've got a nice car that gets decent gas mileage. I still manage to ride 9,000+ miles/year so it's not like I need the mileage.
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Old 12-11-14, 08:43 AM
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I'm the same. I rode home in snow once. It was simultaneously fun and scary. I almost went down in front of a car, and my eyelashes had half an inch of ice on them when I reached home.

I still feel guilty when I don't ride.
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Old 12-11-14, 09:56 AM
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Across the lake here in Rochester, we were right in a notch between heavy snows to our east, and heavy snows to our west. The one to our west is the band that got TO. We fared pretty well. Going to work was no problem at all, and coming home I had to take my least favorite but best plowed and salted route, straight down Main Street.

Last year about this time, in a similar sort of storm, I accepted a ride home breaking a seven-year streak of 1596 consecutive days bike commuting. I lost two days last January due to a mechanical, and a day each in January, February and March due to snow.

You do what you can do.

On the days I don't ride to work, I used the bus and walked some of the way home to make up the missing exercise. If I had an MTB or fatbike, I probably could have made it on the days I chose the bus. But that's an expensive proposition to cover six days. Then I'd have to store the thing for the other 359 days of the year. So the bus is fine.
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Old 12-11-14, 09:58 AM
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10cm... that's like 4".

Yep, that gets hard to ride in, even if you wanted to.
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Old 12-11-14, 10:01 AM
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I don't worry about riding on snow and ice so much. Friends and I used to play a form of bicycle hockey on frozen lakes to hone our bike handling skills, and once you get used to it you can do OK (keep clip system loose just in case).

But I'm more concerned about who I share the road with, and the problem on black ice surprises, especially coming home in the dark. If I had off road bike trails or paths most of the way, I'd probably ride on anything that my pedals could clear. But sharing snow covered roads with cars is too risky, and I take a pass.

BTW- tire selection is key. I never used studs, and found that narrower tires are better on snow covered pavement because they cut through and bit on the road. But if the snow is packed hard enough to support the bike, then a wider tire stays on top for lower rolling resistance. Overall, the best traction was my tubular tired road bike at 90psi (on pavement), and worst was the 2" smooth tire on the pavement.
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Old 12-11-14, 10:04 AM
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I rode once when it had snowed non-stop for hours and it took me an hour to get 4 miles. It was just like the OP describes with instability. When I was done, I felt like I'd wrestled a bear. The last quarter mile or so I had to get off and push my bike through the snow in a park because it was too deep to turn the cranks.

Yes, there are limits. I suppose it depends a lot on circumstances and equipment just what those limits are.

But OP, you gave it a shot and let common sense weigh in. Just as well you were reasonable.
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Old 12-11-14, 10:25 AM
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I would never even consider riding even if it was only an inch. NO WAY. I hate cold and snow. Of course I guess that is why I love South China. 65-80 F all year round.
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Old 12-11-14, 10:35 AM
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They plow some of the bike paths here in the Boston MA area. I assume they would plow that much snow on the roads up there? I need my car for work , so leave it there when I pedal home. The only way to get back to work is to ride my bike back in the am. I watch the weather very carefully. Some ride are better than others. I have pushed some before, I call it cross training.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:01 AM
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I have my limits and 4 inches of unplowed snow is usually it. It depends on the type of snow.

One thing I have found that helps is to try and keep your weight off the front wheel and avoid going too slow. Also try to keep a looser grip on the bars and relax.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:17 AM
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It was a great day to commuting by bike today. Traffic was terrible and with all the public transport system delay, why not? All my friends that are commuting by bicycle got to work on time. Friends that have to drive are all taking their day off.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:18 AM
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I was feeling disappointed with myself for at not least trying since I was all prepared with my studded tires. Walked to work instead all along thinking, I could be moving a bit faster.

When the weather settles and the snow packs, I'll try again.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:22 AM
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I get fat and it's fun as hell!

My fat bike is the commuter on those days. (surly moonlander) Depending on the amount and type of snow it can usually make it just fine albeit a measure slower than usual. But considering driving a car on big snow days will take just as long, I'd rather be on the bike.

As you've discovered the skinny tire studded bike is not well suited to this task. It can be done but it sucks.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:31 AM
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10cm? Come on! Nothing there!
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Old 12-11-14, 11:45 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, guys (and gals, if there are any). It's nice that we can commiserate together about the weather.

I will try again tomorrow. Just a bit disappointed, that's all.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
I'm the same. I rode home in snow once. It was simultaneously fun and scary.
Even for that one km it was quite scary for me. I would have been very miserable for the next 19 had I carried through.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
Across the lake here in Rochester, we were right in a notch between heavy snows to our east, and heavy snows to our west. The one to our west is the band that got TO. We fared pretty well. Going to work was no problem at all, and coming home I had to take my least favorite but best plowed and salted route, straight down Main Street.
You are lucky. It is still coming down here. Looks like 10cm might very well turn into 20 by the time it's all over.
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Old 12-11-14, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
BTW- tire selection is key. I never used studs, and found that narrower tires are better on snow covered pavement because they cut through and bit on the road. But if the snow is packed hard enough to support the bike, then a wider tire stays on top for lower rolling resistance. Overall, the best traction was my tubular tired road bike at 90psi (on pavement), and worst was the 2" smooth tire on the pavement.
I got studded tires as an insurance policy on those morning when there is a possibility of black ice. When the road is clear you ride faster, which means crashing harder too.

Crashing at any speed sucks, but I suppose going 10km/h on snow-covered roads is better than 30km/h on bare pavement.
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Old 12-11-14, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I have my limits and 4 inches of unplowed snow is usually it. It depends on the type of snow.

One thing I have found that helps is to try and keep your weight off the front wheel and avoid going too slow. Also try to keep a looser grip on the bars and relax.
I would never think that. Intuitively I would do the exact opposite.

"..avoid going too slow." . Too funny
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Old 12-11-14, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Dream Cyclery View Post
It was a great day to commuting by bike today. Traffic was terrible and with all the public transport system delay, why not? All my friends that are commuting by bicycle got to work on time. Friends that have to drive are all taking their day off.
I probably would have gotten here in the same amount of time riding, or perhaps faster. We are being told to quadruple our commute time. Pfff.
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Old 12-11-14, 12:02 PM
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New York, here. I'm with you guys about staying off the roads in ANY kind of snow or ice conditions. It's not even so much about the instability of my own bike as it is about the unpredictability of what can happen to any of those cars out there with me. Having worked a lot in Toronto during winter time, I can totally understand why you wouldn't be comfortable with it.
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Old 12-11-14, 12:06 PM
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What's the word from Amsterdam and Copenhagen? Do cyclists there continue to bike on 5-10cm of fresh snow?
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Old 12-11-14, 12:13 PM
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It's a different situation in Southern California. There's no snow, and we've been in drought conditions for quite a while now. The problem is, when it does rain, cage drivers do not know what to do and it becomes very dangerous to be anything smaller than a mid-size sedan on the roads. In light of this, I don't ride to work in anything more than a light rain.

Snow sounds like a total bummer to ride in.
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