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Old 02-01-08, 03:49 PM   #1
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Ice biking

I live on an island on Lake Champlain and spend a lot of time iceboarding (windsurfing rig powering a board with blades and trucks) and Nordic skating (speedskating blades, xc bindings, sharp poles). Have used bikes to cross snow packed areas to access skatable ice. Though I've thought about it for years, had never really felt the need for studded tires. Since I've owned a recumbent, I can't help but think that it might be worth while to see what a low drag set up could do, so I ordered some Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires from Peter White. I was afraid that the cheaper Innovas might not hold as well or last as long, and be slower anyway.

You've got to try this if you have ice, especially if like me, you have big ice. The tires are 1.6" section, which is about the perfect compromise between speed, compliant ride through bumps and grip in snow without a rumbly ride on smooth surfaces. The experience is marvelous; probably the most relaxing way to navigate in winter. The grip is just adequate for what you need to do without having extra weight on the wheels. When on hard smooth black ice (slippery) it is necessary to play with the air pressure in the tires until you're comfortable with the grip you've got. On a 'bent this is easy; get going straight, unclip your feet and get them down ready to catch yourself, then start to do some turns. Don't expect to be able to lean more than a few degrees, but if you can do the consevative turnes that you'll likely need without the front washing around you're good to go. I think the front needs to be a bit softer than the rear (even more so than on dry roads). I haven't done comparisons between skating speeds and cycling speeds with a GPS yet but I have ridden with others who were skating (Nordic), and it seems that I could probabaly hold a slightly higher cruising speed, and as you know the comfort is wonderful. Skating usually results in tired lower back and feet muscles, especially before you have lots of miles for the season. I've even gone out with my skates and boots in my tailpack with poles lashed to the frame, out of the way, so if I want to change, I can.

Would love to compare notes with anyone who does this sort of thing.
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