cycling

Fall and winter riding: Trying to psych myself up for it

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See you out there! How far into winter do you ride? I’m hoping to make it to January this year with the cyclocross bike.

13 thoughts on “Fall and winter riding: Trying to psych myself up for it

    1. I’m fine with cold but no snow or ice. Usually though the roads are clear through till December. And I’m thinking more long rides than commuting though “long” changes late fall to not so long really.

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  1. I am just getting back into biking, I am a all season runner so I do not mind snow, ice and cold when I am moving! Last time I used a bike in the winter it was when I got into an accident and was sans car in the dead of winter dec-feb! Biked to work everyday!

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  2. In Salzburg where there were bike paths, I used to ride my bike through the winter with snow and ice and all (although, admittedly, there was not so much of that). But in Thorold/St. Kitts I would not dare since I have to share the road with drivers (note that I said: “I have to share,” it is not the drivers’ impression that they also have to share). A bike path to Brock is long overdue.

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  3. It really helps to live in a city where they do try to clear their bike paths often. Calgary does. Whereas Toronto where I lived for over a decade, did not clear their park bike paths.

    Calgary has very cold winters where we consider -15 C a nice winter. A -25 to -30 C is quite cold. But the winter air is dry unlike southern Ontario. So bright sunshine and warm Chinook winds prevent too much slush hardening into ice…that is for areas that get snow cleared. I’ve managed to bike 70% of the winter days for the past few years by keeping primarily on the bike path from home to work. Same for shopping. Only going onto the road with cars when it’s clear /have to. So winter rides are shorter….but amazingly do contribute to your fitness year round!

    (In Toronto I never biked in winter.)

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    1. Studded tires are *fantastic* on packed snow, ice, etc. I feel like a tank rumbling along and I love being able to track through stuff that I can’t even walk in. But they can be noisy and not very efficient on bare pavement. Those are on my really-awful-weather-bike.

      Last winter I tried a set of non-studded winter tires (Continental Top Contact) on my normal commuting bike (flat bar road bike), and loved those too. They’re a softer rubber compound that stays pliable and sticks to the road really well in low temperatures; the tread pattern looks like tiny suction cups. I think they copied it from gecko feet. I loved those too! So light and fast but secure feeling. I rode on those whenever the roads were mainly clear.

      So yes, I have two winter bikes. I tell people that if they own skiing equipment, especially more than one set, they don’t get to judge me 😀

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  4. I’m coming into my 6th winter riding in Calgary. I love it. Well, mostly – there are days it’s pretty miserable, but I deal better with cold than excessive heat.

    The keys for me:
    – winter tires (as above);
    – shift levers I can operate with mittens on (I get too cold with gloves);
    – merino wool everything;
    – cycling tights that have a windproof panel over the thighs and crotch;
    – a *softshell* jacket (wind protection that’s breathable – if I wear a “hard” shell fabric I will end up with a layer of ice on the *inside* of it, I guarantee you)
    – a tubular “buff” neck thingy (I have a synthetic one and a merino one): http://www.mec.ca/product/5023-806/chaos-multi-tubular-headwear-unisex/ It’s incredibly useful – mostly I use it as a neck warmer, and I can pull it up over my chin and nose if I need to. It can also become a skullcap/ear warmer/hood (snood?). Fantastically useful and small enough that it lives in my bike pannier year round. I have used it in July…

    Everyone thinks you are completely crazy and completely badass if you ride in winter. What they don’t know is how much freaking FUN it is 😀

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  5. Do I know you Kim? I cycle under 15 km. or less during winter each trip when I go out. Fine by me! I just wear wind pants for cheapo semi thick tights, a hard shell jacket with wicking lining and pit arm zippers, thick fleecy jacket underneath, etc.

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    1. Hi Jean- we’ve probably crossed paths at some point but not met formally! I work at MEC, mainly in the bike shop but also teaching the Maintenance 101 classes on Fridays and occasionally leading the Meetup rides from the store. Come say hi if you are ever nearby!

      I have tended to keep my winter rides to about 15-20km too. That’s a nice distance, far enough to get warmed up and moving nicely, but not out so long that my hands and feet get cold or I get dehydrated. (An insulated water bottle or a hydration pack might help there, I suppose).

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  6. Before the snow hits (anytime now, although generally not so much until Xmas), it’s great to switch to riding cross bikes or mtbikes in the woods. What I wear for road riding at 40 degrees F I can wear for off-road at 30 degrees F because I’m going slower and am more sheltered. When there’s snow on the roads I don’t tend to ride the commuter, but your comments are motivating me to think about studded tires for my cross bike. There can be limited visibility and the roads get way narrow with piled-up snow (in Boston they don’t do expert plowing like they do further north and west), and most cyclists I know curtail their riding until that situation gets better. For any winter riding (other than road riding) I tend to put flat pedals on and wear winter boots– it’s not as efficient, but my feet stay toasty. Am thinking of investing in winter MTB shoes though– any suggestions or reviews out there?

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