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Snow and Ice Notes

Old 12-16-15, 12:13 PM
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BobbyG
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Snow and Ice Notes

While I am a year-round bike commuter, this is my first winter riding in snow and ice in many years. Today's 9 mile ride in to work with only a few yards of bare pavement was wonderful: Sunny and 13F when I left the house..warming up to 19F at the office 53 minutes later. This is also the first time I have used studded snow tires and they have made a huge difference. My confidence is building and my average speed was 9.5...up from 7 last week in similar conditions. I did build enough confidence to hit 17mph on hard-packed snow and 12 on glare ice.

However, where as last week I walked my bike down a steep icy incline by a railroad crossing, this morning I rode down. Three weeks ago on my first snow and ice ride I found I was able to come to a complete stop going down some very steep ice-covered hills. While only 12 yards, this rail crossing is the steepest incline on my commute. On the way home last week, I was able to ride up it while a couple of cars were spinning their wheels (although other cars made it). So this morning I rode down and was tempted to stop, just to prove I could, but I became worried about stopping and putting my foot down on such an incline of ice, since my shoes don't have the grip of studded tires. So I didn't. But in the last couple of yards I began to turn right, as I normally do, and the back end of the bike started to slide. I straightened out and was able to continue to the where it flattened out and then turned right. Made a mental note of that.

While we had only 2-3 inches of snow I came across a couple of powdery drifts 4-6 inches deep and was able to power through those, but the effort was great and my speed was down to walking speed, so I think 2-3 inches will be my limit for now.

I have used toe clips (mousetraps and straps) for years and on this old mtb, even with the 178mm cranks, I was able to flip them down and ride on the flat side without them scraping the street. I am still a little nervous about getting a foot free if I slid on some ice.

Also last year I had lowered my cold temperature threshold from 23F to 12F after missing out on too much winter riding. I absolutely nailed the clothing today and I may try 8F if the opportunity arises.

That's it...just wanted to share.
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Old 12-16-15, 01:28 PM
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nice !! can you also please share details of clothing you used to keep warm?
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Old 12-16-15, 01:56 PM
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I started to use toeclips this year but after one ride in, although there were no incidents, I was uncomfortable about not being able to pull my boots off the pedal fast enough if I needed to so I removed the straps. I can't pull up if I need to but it places my foot in the right position and gives me the confidence that my foot isn't going to slide forward off the pedal if there is snow under my boot. I'm going to switch to a different kind of clip, the kind that is designed to be used without a strap because without it now, the clip I'm using is rather flimsy.
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Old 12-16-15, 02:59 PM
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For me, the greatest difference is between 30 F and 20. Once you can do 20, 0F is easy.
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Old 12-16-15, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I have used toe clips (mousetraps and straps) for years and on this old mtb, even with the 178mm cranks, I was able to flip them down and ride on the flat side without them scraping the street. I am still a little nervous about getting a foot free if I slid on some ice.
I don't like toe clips for that reason, though for any riding at all. Full "clipless" pedals provide little or no efficiency benefit (it's debateable whether it's a little or none, but either way it's definitely not huge). Toe Cages are the worst of everything - no additional grip for pulling up, foot it trapped on the pedal.

You can buy flat pedals with pins, these are the cheapest good pedals I know of (around $50):

VP Components VP-Vice Pedals
Amazon.com : VP Components VP-Vice Pedals (Pack of 2) (9/16-Inch, Black) : Bike Pedals : Sports & Outdoors



I like Chrome flat bike shoes because they look relatively normal and are very comfortable for biking (funny enough not as comfortable for walking around off the bike but they're ok). I own a pair of Chrome Kurk's. I think was thinking of buying the Storm Kursk's (waterproof version) for winter.

If you want super, super, super grippy, you can buy Five Ten Freeriders:
https://www.amazon.com/Five-Ten-Mens-.../dp/B008XES5S4



I actually found them a little *to* grippy, with all the pins on my pedals I had to lift the shoe off the pedal just to twist it to change shoe position.

Just fyi - there are a lot of good options for doing "flat" pedals that still keep your feet pretty firmly attached to the pedal, but also let you pull it off the pedal quickly if you want to.
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Old 12-16-15, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
I started to use toeclips this year but after one ride in, although there were no incidents, I was uncomfortable about not being able to pull my boots off the pedal fast enough if I needed to so I removed the straps. I can't pull up if I need to but it places my foot in the right position and gives me the confidence that my foot isn't going to slide forward off the pedal if there is snow under my boot. I'm going to switch to a different kind of clip, the kind that is designed to be used without a strap because without it now, the clip I'm using is rather flimsy.
I don't run clipped/clipless pedals on my winter bike. The reason is twofold.

First, when the temps hit single digits or lower my clipless shoes just aren't warm enough and I like to wear my boots (yes, I know you can get clipless boots but they're crazy expensive.) Standard toe clips could work around this, assuming they are big enough to fit my boots, which brings me to...

Second, and most important, I've had too many instances in the winter where I need to get my foot down NOW! If my feet were restrained in any way the slight delay it takes to free them would have me laying in a snowbank. Usually I find the need to do this in deep snow where the bike hits a drift and comes to an abrupt, unexpected stop. The speeds in these situations are low so it's not so much of a risk of getting injured as it is I'd rather not be making snow angels on the cold ground.

I like clipless overall, just not for winter riding.
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Old 12-16-15, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I don't like toe clips for that reason, though for any riding at all. Full "clipless" pedals provide little or no efficiency benefit (it's debateable whether it's a little or none, but either way it's definitely not huge). Toe Cages are the worst of everything - no additional grip for pulling up, foot it trapped on the pedal.
There are gonna be people who disagree with you, but I read the user comments, and I may look into platform pedals with pins. My main reason for getting clips was my foot slipping off the pedals that came with the bike I bought in 1987. Over the years, I have kept the straps loose which allows be to shift my foot slightly. I had thought about clipless, but I thought it was overkill for my purposes, and I liked being able to ride in an old pair of sneakers. Thanks to a discussion on BF a few years ago I bought some skateboard shoes; cheap with a stiff, flat grippy sole that I could walk normally in. They have worked very well for me and refuse to fall apart. Now that I'm in my 50s, multiple foot positions appeal to me even more. My '84 Nishiki road bike has metal pedals with raised "teeth" around the edges and are pretty grippy. But I keep it fenderless so it's not a wet weather or winter bike. But for winter riding in the snow and ice, I will see if I can't try a pair of platform pedals with pins.
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Old 12-16-15, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
My main reason for getting clips was my foot slipping off the pedals that came with the bike I bought in 1987...Thanks to a discussion on BF a few years ago I bought some skateboard shoes; cheap with a stiff, flat grippy sole that I could walk normally in. They have worked very well for me and refuse to fall apart.
Ah, that's cool, in that case you probably don't even need new shoes - the Chrome shoes are basically the same skateboard style shoes. Just pedals with pins would work.

You should not have any problems with your feet not sticking, but if you did, like I said the Five Ten bike shoes are flat soled but use a special rubber compound that is incredibly sticky on pedals with pins as well. And like I said, I actually found them a little to sticky, would have had to remove some of the pins for it to work for me. Just an fyi if for anyone reason you don't find the new pedals sticky enough. It seriously felt exactly like clipless, unless you unweighted the foot and pulled it up off the pedal. It really grabbed onto the pedal.

It's my opinion, but I think both clipless and flats have merits to them. No doubt clipless is the best way to keep your foot attached to the pedal when spinning at super high cadence. Flats are easier to hop on and off the bike with. Efficiency like I said is a matter of debate, with some studies showing no improvement with clipless and others showing a small improvement. There's no clear answer at this time.

I think straps suck personally, it's the worst of both worlds - no efficiency gains, not better at retention than clipless, and also harder to get out of in an emergency. I really think a pedal with pins would solve your foot retention problem (keeping your foot on the pedal), if it doesn't Five Ten shoes 100% certain would. And no more straps making it take longer to get a foot down.

Good luck with whatever you choose. :-)
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Old 12-16-15, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
I don't run clipped/clipless pedals on my winter bike. The reason is twofold.

First, when the temps hit single digits or lower my clipless shoes just aren't warm enough and I like to wear my boots (yes, I know you can get clipless boots but they're crazy expensive.) Standard toe clips could work around this, assuming they are big enough to fit my boots, which brings me to...
Yes, clipless boots are expensive but how long are they going to last you? I paid around $250 for my Lake MZ303 four years ago. So far they have cost me $63/year. They don't seem to be showing any wear and I expect that they will last at least another 6 years...I've have other shoes that I used for winter riding that are closer to 20 years old. At 10 years, they will have cost me $25/year and they are far superior to regular bike shoes and shoe covers.

Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
Second, and most important, I've had too many instances in the winter where I need to get my foot down NOW! If my feet were restrained in any way the slight delay it takes to free them would have me laying in a snowbank. Usually I find the need to do this in deep snow where the bike hits a drift and comes to an abrupt, unexpected stop. The speeds in these situations are low so it's not so much of a risk of getting injured as it is I'd rather not be making snow angels on the cold ground.

I like clipless overall, just not for winter riding.
Personally, I've never found a point where I needed to get my foot down any faster in winter than during mountain biking. Falling over into a snowbank is a lot less hazardous than falling onto a pile of rocks. There's really no difference in injury to my dignity either but one gives you scraps, bruises and blood while the other just gets you cold. Either way, I often find my foot unclipped and on the ground without my even thinking about it.

I have found that being clipped in makes me more likely to stay upright when I would have bailed on a flat pedal. The ability to pull up helps to power through soft snowpack as well rather than have to bail.

I will agree about toe straps, however. I wouldn't use them for love nor money for winter, summer, road or off-road riding. I've used them in the past but modern clipless pedals are much better.
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Old 12-17-15, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by nripin View Post
nice !! can you also please share details of clothing you used to keep warm?
I know wool would work better for wicking, but I've been okay with cotton, so here's what I wore for this ride and would wear at 12F, which is my current low temp threshhold (did it last winter). Two pair of atheletic socks with a wool-blend hiking sock over both. Loosen shoes and make sure shoes are loose. Tight shoes restrict bloodflow and leads to cold feet. If there is snow or wet I put a plastic grocery bag or two over the socks. I wear my usual coaches shorts, over which I wear light, slightly breathable loosish track pants, over those I wear baggy cotton lined nylon jogging pants. Above 23F I just wear the light track pants, above 35F just the shorts. On top I wore a lycra t-shirt over which I wore a longsleeve turtle neck light cotton pullover. Over which I wore an old cotton sweatshirt, topped off by my usual light breathable windbreaker. Above 23F I ditch the sweatshirt in favor of another long sleeve T-shirt (sans turtle neck), And above 35F I wear just a long sleeve t-shirt under my wind-breaker. On my head I wore a thin nylon belaclava, with a breathable ear-warmer/headband (which my step-daughter knitted me just for bike-riding!) Above 23F, just the ear warmer, above 35 nothing. On my hands I wore light synthetic gloves from Dollar Tree over which I wore light water resistant winter gloves, and over those another layer of loose soft Dollar Tree gloves. Above 23F I wear light leatherette gloves covered by Dollar Tree cotton work gloves. I wear cheap cotton work gloves over everything because it turns the back of my hand into a giant nose-wiper.
I used to over dress and sweat excessively which would then freeze. I now dress with the aim to be warm about 10-15 minutes into the ride. My commute is usually 45 minutes, give or take, but in the snow, my commute can take almost 80 minutes, especially if there is a train. This is about the time limit for the cotton due to moisture. At some point I will buy wool base layers. And mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
I have been wearing the belaclava tucked up under my lower lip. I have not felt the need to cover my mouth and nose yet this winter. In years past I have and it fogs up my glasses. However, in the last few years I began washing my glasses with warm water and hand soap and then blow drying them with an empty pen-tube or drinking straw (pinching the end to build pressure). This has the added benefit of inhibiting fog buildup on the glasses. On the few occasions I have worn a scarf over my face (not on the bike) it has helped reduce, but not eliminate fogging.
Anyways, I am no expert, but this is what I do, and it works for me...Your Mileage May Vary. I almost exclusively commute, and my winterbike has fenders, and my setup would not work for a day of fatbiking in the snow, where I suppose more water proofing would be needed and more wicking.
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Old 12-17-15, 10:16 AM
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appreciate the time you take for a detailed write up, i really like the below tip u gave !
Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I wear cheap cotton work gloves over everything because it turns the back of my hand into a giant nose-wiper
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Old 12-17-15, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Yes, clipless boots are expensive but how long are they going to last you? I paid around $250 for my Lake MZ303 four years ago. So far they have cost me $63/year. They don't seem to be showing any wear and I expect that they will last at least another 6 years...I've have other shoes that I used for winter riding that are closer to 20 years old. At 10 years, they will have cost me $25/year and they are far superior to regular bike shoes and shoe covers.
My previous pair of boots cost me something like $40 and lasted me 23 years. My current pair cost another $40. Hopefully I'll get 23 years out of them too. I'm pretty cheap. I don't have much in the way of cycling specific clothing of any kind. My $50 pair of Nashbar clipless shoes are about as fancy as I've ever gotten. I joke with my friends that I don't buy any clothing that isn't sold in packs of five. I realize not everyone is like me, and I have no problem with people who choose to spend their money on things they use and enjoy.

A few years ago my brother and I went to a concert. He decided he wanted to buy a t-shirt from the event and offered to buy me one too. I responded that while I appreciated the gesture, there's no way I could ever enjoy a $40 t-shirt even if I wasn't the one who paid for it. Every time I'd wear it I would think about how much he overpaid for the shirt, which would wreck it for me. I'm just wired a little different I guess.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Personally, I've never found a point where I needed to get my foot down any faster in winter than during mountain biking. Falling over into a snowbank is a lot less hazardous than falling onto a pile of rocks. There's really no difference in injury to my dignity either but one gives you scraps, bruises and blood while the other just gets you cold. Either way, I often find my foot unclipped and on the ground without my even thinking about it.

I have found that being clipped in makes me more likely to stay upright when I would have bailed on a flat pedal. The ability to pull up helps to power through soft snowpack as well rather than have to bail.

I will agree about toe straps, however. I wouldn't use them for love nor money for winter, summer, road or off-road riding. I've used them in the past but modern clipless pedals are much better.
I'm not a mountain biker so I don't have any experience in that regard. However from the way you describe it I probably wouldn't feel comfortable wearing clipless in that situation either. I realize a lot of people do, and that's fine if it works for them. When I do ride clipless I can unclip pretty fast, but nowhere near as fast as I would like for winter riding. I guess I just have slow reflexes or something.
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Old 12-17-15, 01:44 PM
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I'm not very fast either and I primarily unclip on my right so if I need to unclip in a hurry on my left, it would more likely go wrong for me.
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Old 01-13-16, 03:00 PM
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I made my own "miniclips" and actually prefer these year-round. they work great with anything on your feet. particularly useful in the winter with shoes & pull-on overboots. just hop on and go
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Old 01-13-16, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I made my own "miniclips" and actually prefer these year-round. they work great with anything on your feet. particularly useful in the winter with shoes & pull-on overboots. just hop on and go
Clever!
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Old 01-14-16, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I made my own "miniclips" and actually prefer these year-round. they work great with anything on your feet. particularly useful in the winter with shoes & pull-on overboots. just hop on and go
Nice. I've done that for people who need/want an easy method of putting their feet in the right position on the padals.

I'd round off the corners of those metal toe clips though as they can give you a nasty gash or tear clothing.

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Old 01-14-16, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I'd round off the corners of those metal toe clips though as they can give you a nasty gash or tear clothing.
+1!
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Old 01-14-16, 09:55 AM
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thanks for sharing notes~ curious how it will be when the snow and ice arrives in NYC...!
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Old 01-25-16, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I made my own "miniclips" and actually prefer these year-round. they work great with anything on your feet. particularly useful in the winter with shoes & pull-on overboots. just hop on and go
Great job - these look way beyond "home-made." What did you start with and how did you shape them?
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Old 01-25-16, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by habilis View Post
Great job - these look way beyond "home-made." What did you start with and how did you shape them?
oh not at all I just cut regular clips, cuz that's wut I had on hand. you can just buy them just be sure you get them big enough!
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Old 01-25-16, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
oh not at all I just cut regular clips, cuz that's wut I had on hand. you can just buy them just be sure you get them big enough!
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Looks like a good solution for boots.
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Old 01-25-16, 01:31 PM
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I used large walking shoes with thin pullon overboots. I think if I were to use LARGE winter boots I would have to increase the size of the mini clip or add a spacer to move it forward on the pedal
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