Filed under: Advocacy, Bike Paths, Commuting, How To, Lifestyle
The elation of not having to deal with riding in subzero weather is amazing, uplifting and very welcome.
It really isn’t hard to ride in below zero temperatures. Put some layers on and go.
My winter beater (named the ‘Wynott’) has been reliable all winter. More reliable than my summer bikes. No flats, no chain problems, no brake problems (no brakes), no gearing problems (1 gear) and only one day I had to walk the bike (1 block) because the snow on the road was impassable (I did slog my way about 10 blocks before just not being able to find a track). Not bad for my 5 miles per day commute plus 3-10 miles for entertainment rides (music and bar hopping mostly). I did have (normal?) saddle problems on longer rides (cheap saddle) and will skip the graphic description. Solved with bike shorts.
So, as one of the ‘extreme’ riders, I admit to a little hardship. I admit that riding year round takes effort. It just takes putting in your head that this is how you get around. I suppose the same thing could be used if you only had a horse for transportation. Think of the maintenance on that vehicle!
The big drive for me to use a bike as transportation is the money and time I save (yes, I said time). If I had a car, I figure I would have to work a second job to be able to spend money the way I do. Plus time and bloody knuckles fixing and maintaining a late model car (there goes my Saturday or Sunday afternoons). I have been there and done that on cars. We always had two. Now with just one, I keep it better maintained (I can afford to pay ‘the man’) and it lasts longer (this one is 10yrs old and will probably last 10 more).
I do seem to keep bring up the same thing when I write about bicycle commuting. Sorry, guess it emphasizes the truth of it. I admit to have an ‘ideal’ commute, but then, I live and work where I do on purpose. I chose a job near my home. I chose a home near the places I need and want to go to. Sometimes it takes time and planning, it did for me. Now I have it. If you want it, plan for it, execute the plan, then, enjoy the benefits. End bicycle commuting rant…;-)
Springtime is upon us. It will snow again, it’s still a bit chilly, but at least we can remove ‘Polar Vortex’ from everyday use.
I found this info graphic on the cost of commuting by automobile. The numbers are a couple years old, but close enough to get the point.
Filed under: Commuting, DRBC, Events, Gear, How To, Lifestyle
I live in Wisconsin. The weather changes. Duh. Nothing new, it’s everyday. We get melting heat in the hundreds with humidity that you can almost swim through. We get rain and storms that cause flooding (that you literally swim through) and we get cold. This year we seem to be getting plenty of that. Subzero temps have been the norm for weeks now. I seem to be one of a small group that has decided to simply deal with it. This group, by the way, is growing. We don extra layers, mittens, facemasks and goggles. The snow for skiing and snowshoeing is really good, the fat tire bike group has over a dozen riders each week, I see fellow bicycle commuters everyday. The city is doing their normal job on the streets and they are passable. I ride daily and haven’t had to deal with ‘too much snow to ride through’ yet. Outdoors in Wisconsin, in Winter, is still good, add a layer.
I was looking through my calendar and realized how much I do outside in the winter. I have been going out more lately as the temps dropped. Every night for almost a week I was getting home around Midnight. That’s not normal, guess there’s just too much fun stuff to do. Rode to PSB on Wednesday for a free pint, strapped the skis to the bike Thursday for ski night at the golf course, great music downtown Friday and Saturday night, Sunday, skied at the golf course early, then rode to a friends for the Superbowl, snowshoed for a couple hours with them before the game.
I find the key to everyday outdoors is stay warm and have some lighting. The skiers use strap on head lights to light the trail at night. Bikes of course have bike lights and reflective stuff. When the moon is out, snowshoeing by moon light is amazing.
The cold is just cold, use what works. The darkness is defeated by simple cheap lighting. Friendship in the cold grows, the experience together is more intense. Enjoying a hot toddy or coffee afterwards just sounds good. Chatting about ‘the crazy headwind’ or how ‘noisy the snow is at this temperature’ becomes normal conversation.
Don’t be afraid of the cold dark Winter, warm it with activity, friendship and fun. Before you know it, we’ll be swimming through the humidity of Summer…
Added a Google calendar so you can add it to your Google calendar list.
Filed under: Advocacy, Commuting, Education, Gear, How To, Outreach
I ride, a bicycle, in Wisconsin, year round…
In my discussions with cycling friends who only ride in fair weather, here is my conclusion. I will assume they are like other normal people and are a good sampling of the population.
They don’t ride in the winter because: It’s cold, and slippery, and cold. I did have a concern or two about their steeds and the salt, but mostly, it’s cold.
My answer is usually a question. You live in the midwest, it gets cold here, you don’t seem to suffer from bouts of hypothermia, how do you stay warm? And thus, I answer their biggest problem with riding in the winter.
Second big problem is usually the snow and ice on the roads. This is the more complicated answer, one most cyclists enjoy though. Buy stuff for your bike. This is a list of possibles:
Studded tires- they just work. Carbide studs last a long time. Tires are easy to change, most cyclists should know how to fix a flat.
Fenders- there are easy to put on fenders using rubber straps, some snap on to the frame or, have permanant ones put on. I reccomend having a shop put them on. They can be a pain to line up.
A bag- any bag you can carry an extra layer of clothing, batteries for lights (I assume you have them already) and other bits of bike nessessity. I use a Messenger bag but any backpack, bike trunk or pannier bag works. If you need water proof, use ziplock bags.
The big thing that I have added to my bike for cold weather riding are: POGIES! – these are the big handlebar mitts. Every type I have tried are warm, some are not waterproof. Everyone I know who has them becomes a winter rider. They range from $20 for ATV mitts to $100 for the super Alaskian type. I generalize extremely, just search for ‘bicycle bar mitts’ or ‘pogies’.
You don’t have to ride in the snow. The streets clear off a couple days after a snow and are quite passable. Riding in the snow can be challenging, expecially when there is loose snow to go through. Mostly, keep yourself kind of fluid and roll with it. Momentium will get you through, always ‘be ready’ for the bike to slip when going through the loose stuff or over ice if you don’t have studs.
Simple answer to riding in the winter, in Wisconsin. Wear warm, layers work best but, any warm will do.
Look for the next article: How I ride in the winter- The gear.