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Ice On the Street - how do you deal with it?

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Ice On the Street - how do you deal with it?

Old 11-21-20, 08:37 PM
  #1  
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Ice On the Street - how do you deal with it?

Last winter I was on my usual morning commute to work. It wast 6 AM and still dark. The temperature was about 33 American Degrees. I came onto a roundabout at the top of a hill and hit a patch of ice - and down I went. My instincts, as I felt myself falling, were to protect the bike with my body. That's what I did but I banged up my left side pretty badly. Nothing broken or irreparably damaged, though. So... How do you guys deal with treacherous ice patches in the winter gloom? It makes me not want to ride when the temp approaches the freezing point of water. Stupid ice!
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Old 11-21-20, 08:46 PM
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Studded snow tires.

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Old 11-21-20, 10:36 PM
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I'm opposite of you. I let the bike take the fall and protect my body.
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Old 11-21-20, 10:43 PM
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Rarely do I need to use studded tyres here (we salt a lot, and winters are getting milder), but it is generally good to have an idea where there might be ice when it's hovering around freezing: Overpasses (because it's a bridge), in the shade, and any place where there might not be salted that well: Roundabouts and tight turns where the salter end will be pivoted out in the road when it turned, and did I mention the shade?
I also allow my bike to take the brunt depending on the type of fall. Fast moving, I try to roll out of it.

But anyway, when it's around freezing, especially in the morning there are places where the ground will still be cold enough to not have thawed, and there are in general places where it is aways dicy if it's freezing or close to.

If you do hit a patch of ice, do not turn, but do move your weight towards the rear.
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Old 11-22-20, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
I'm opposite of you. I let the bike take the fall and protect my body.
When I've gone down on ice there was no planning, there was just splat and slide down the crown of the road to the curb.

Studded tires for ice.
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Old 11-22-20, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
When I've gone down on ice there was no planning, there was just splat and slide down the crown of the road to the curb.

Studded tires for ice.
As noted by several others in this thread and elsewhere, falling on ice happens too fast to plan how to the fall is going to happen.
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Old 11-22-20, 12:06 PM
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I will add +1 for studded tires.

When I moved to Fargo ND and bought a house 2 miles from my work I decided to become a full time bicycle commuter. Just in case you don't know, Fargo is amazingly bitter cold in the months of January and February. The snow that falls gets compacted and becomes a layer of ice on the roads.

The first winter here I went to one of the local bike shops and asked what I should do for winter tires. I left with a pair tungsten carbide studded tires. Once there is an ice covering on the roads here, they are the best solution.

One friend tried using what were sold as "winter tires" and they did not work well on the packed ice that forms here. I know that some people here commute on mountain bikes with off road tires in the winter, but I don't like falling. You still need to exercise caution when turning, but the studded tires are a big help.

The one caution I would add is that if you ride in an area where they put grit on the roads it will often accumulate in corners and greatly reduce the available traction once the ice is gone.

.
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Old 11-22-20, 12:31 PM
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Where I live, I’ll rarely have more than forty feet of my 15-25 mile ride be ice. I stay in high gear most of the time - low torque advantage makes for very little slipping. I’m leaning far back enough that I’m pulling on the bars and most of my weight is pushing my soft-compound summer rubber in the rear to conform to whatever shape the ice may have going on. I’m loose and ready whenever it’s below 36 Freedoms. Little patches of ice are usually less than one full crank rotation long and momentum typically carries me through them.

I’ve fallen a lot over the decades. I flop instead of slam. I roll instead of splat.
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Old 11-22-20, 01:09 PM
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1) if there is ice around, NEVER use the front brake.
2) let some air out of your tires. 1.75 or wider MTB knobbies with a little less air can work pretty good. Skinny road bike tires are hopeless.
3) ride with your bike upright and your weight centered always. No big sudden movements. Anticipate braking and turns.
4) drop your seatpost an inch or so. Fine tune your sense of balance.
5) nothing works very well on glare ice

Last edited by grizzly59; 11-22-20 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 11-22-20, 01:39 PM
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Studs for sure. I went down last year on a clear morning hovering around freezing. All was good till about 1 km from destination when approaching a stop sign. Hit a patch while still braking and went down. When in doubt I take the studs now.
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Old 11-23-20, 05:38 AM
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Studs and stay loose.
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Old 11-23-20, 07:49 AM
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I always look around real fast and see if anyone saw me fall.
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Old 11-23-20, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
I always look around real fast and see if anyone saw me fall.
A driver was at the stop sign where I fell last year. He slowly drove by and said something to the effect of 'you shouldn't be riding in this weather cuz it's dangerous,' and then just drove past. No 'are you okay?'.
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Old 11-25-20, 10:38 AM
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Rehearse falling

Rehearse falling. I'm not kidding. I taught some adults to ride a bike, and a few of them were scared of falling off. So we practiced falling not from the bike but from standing. We went to a grassy place. We did a "stage fall" from ankles to knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. We did it in slow motion.

A couple of years later, I fell on the ice while on my bike, and my rehearsed act came into play without any thinking. I could have been bruised much worse. So now from time to time, I rehearse again to reinforce the training. That night I slipped was treacherous. I was on a track racing bike and fell on the ice three times! After the third, I got smart (I'm slow) and walked off the riverside park path and to the streets.

When you see the ice and you know you're going to roll over it, don't turn, or at least if you turn, turn gently by steering, not leaning. Don't brake if you can avoid it, but if you must brake, brake gently with only the rear wheel. If your front wheel slips the tiniest bit, you are done, so keep the handlebars as still as you can.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:41 PM
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I don't do studs, but 1) around here, it's rarely icy, just slush/snow that is quickly plowed, and 2) I have 3 wheels under me so I can slide safely.

I used to just skip riding for a couple months in the winter when I lived in Seattle (and much longer in KS winters!). With a velomobile, I ride year round. I would get just a trike for winter riding as well, but I like the extra protection from the elements.
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Old 11-25-20, 05:12 PM
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Studded tires help alot, lower tire pressure. Don't lean into turns, anticipate stops and scrub speed with the rear brake on downhill sections. If you feel yourself going down and cannot save it, kick the bike away and try to roll on the pavement if possible - platform pedals will make distancing yourself from the bike easier in the event of a fall.
The only time i was significantly injured going down on the bike (not ice related) was when i could not instictively distance myself from the bike, as my hands were tethered to the bars while using bar mitts. I tore my shoulder AC ligaments badly from the impact. I have learned to keep the bar mitts at home unless temps drop well below freezing, and am extra cautious while riding if i do use the bar mitts.
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Old 11-25-20, 06:00 PM
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I've been commuting year-round in Chicago for 18 years, and discovered studs about 12 years ago. No going back! At 70, I don't want to fall. I keep a second bike with regular tires ready for those times when there's little probability of ice, but most winters I'm on the winter bike from mid-December to early March. With studs, riding is a bit more effort, but handling (read: "curves and braking") is essentially normal. Apart from commuting, riding on frozen lakes is a blast!

Pulling a curve on a frozen lake. Ice thickness: 11", so no worries.
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Old 11-26-20, 09:04 AM
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Studded tires are the reason why bikes are better than cars in the winter.
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Old 11-26-20, 11:18 AM
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When riding on ice you should do as Loudin Wainwright III said in The Acid Song: “don’t laugh and don’t fart and don’t sneeze”. Don’t try to turn corners. Don’t try to brake. Don’t try to shift your weight. You should act like you are on eggshells. If you have to turn, do very, very, very wide turns without leaning the bike.

If you have to brake, do so gingerly and sparingly. Use the rear more then the front. If you use the front, just realize that it takes very little brake pressure to lock the front. You won’t go over the bars but the front wheel will immediately wash out and put you on the ground. The rear is going to slide as well but it won’t put you on the ground as quickly as the front well.

Shifting your weight is more involved with pedaling than anything else. If possible, coast over the ice if it is just a short patch. Put your feet parallel to the ground and glide over the ice. Don’t coast like most people do with one foot down and one up. You are more stable if your feet as parallel to the ground. If you have to pedal, do so as smoothly as you can. Try not to rock the bike in any way.

If you do fall, keep your hands (and arms and legs) inside the vehicle at all times. Our monkey minds work really well at walking speed and we can probably “catch” ourselves when we fall at walking speed. At running speed, trying to catch yourself in a fall is probably going to result in skeletal injury. At about 4 times walking speed, putting anything out to “catch” yourself is just going to result in gravity trying to break it off for you. Ride the bike down. Keep attached to it. Hang onto the bars and let your larger muscle mass...your hip and butt...take the impact. There’s more meat there and meat does better at impacts then bone does.

Studs will make a huge difference but like many others, I don’t run them the whole winter. Roads here aren’t icy for more than a few days after a snowstorm and studs are horrible to ride on pavement. Being able to ride over short icy patches is a skill that is good to develop.
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Old 11-26-20, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Rehearse falling. I'm not kidding. I taught some adults to ride a bike, and a few of them were scared of falling off. So we practiced falling not from the bike but from standing. We went to a grassy place. We did a "stage fall" from ankles to knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. We did it in slow motion.

A couple of years later, I fell on the ice while on my bike, and my rehearsed act came into play without any thinking. I could have been bruised much worse. So now from time to time, I rehearse again to reinforce the training. That night I slipped was treacherous. I was on a track racing bike and fell on the ice three times! After the third, I got smart (I'm slow) and walked off the riverside park path and to the streets.

When you see the ice and you know you're going to roll over it, don't turn, or at least if you turn, turn gently by steering, not leaning. Don't brake if you can avoid it, but if you must brake, brake gently with only the rear wheel. If your front wheel slips the tiniest bit, you are done, so keep the handlebars as still as you can.
A friend of mine was on a ride with his son, and the son went over his bars after hitting some sort of obstacle. But the boy does judo and wrestling, and walked away from it without a scratch.

Learning to fall is on my to-do list.
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Old 11-26-20, 07:07 PM
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I don't ride when they're ice/snow. Our temperatures in Denver oscillate between below/above 32F causing ice. I ride in the dark so I can't take a chance. I catch the bus if it's below 32 F. If it's sunny and hasn't snowed for awhile I will ride.
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Old 11-26-20, 08:13 PM
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In my locale, the "other" winter hazard is road salt. They lay it down thick. So I have a dedicated winter bike with studded tires, and I bring it out when the salt trucks come out. Then I put it away again in the spring when the heavy rain washes the salt away. Actually what they spread on the roads is a mixture of salt and sand, so it makes a mess of bikes. Switching tires back and forth during the winter gets old, since my garage is only semi-heated.

The winter bike is on a Schwinn Varsity frame. That'll take a while to rust through.

Some riders in my area use a studded tire just in the front. This will handle most of the cases where you hit an isolated ice patch and just want to maintain control. There's also less rolling resistance from the front tire. It won't be enough for those ice storms where everything is covered with 1/2 inch of sheet ice, but those are pretty rare. There have been days when the only people who made it to my workplace at all were the cyclists.

And what I've noticed is that some cyclists simply live without studs and make their way as best they can. This may involve walking the bike from time to time.
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Old 11-27-20, 06:34 AM
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Studs and keep your feet parallel to the ground when anticipating the ice. I tend to keep my feet moving most of the time in anticipation of ice
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Old 11-29-20, 12:27 PM
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Ooh, a Varsity is a great idea for a winter bike, @Gresp15C.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Ooh, a Varsity is a great idea for a winter bike, @Gresp15C.
Hey what up Tom, hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Back for another winter season?
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