Biking In Winter?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by blur92, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. blur92

    blur92 New Member

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    Is it possible to bike in the winter safely? I have never tried it, but I really want to because I dislike being cooped up inside on a stationary bike. Are there certain tires to purchase, and are they effective? Is it even possible to bike in the snow?
     
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  2. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    It's insane and suicidal!

    Just kidding. Of course you can ride through winter. And I agree, trainers get boring in a hurry.

    Winter riding does take some specific clothing, getting acclimated to training in the cold and [Dirty Harry] you got to know your limits [/Dirty Harry]. If you are riding on snow you may want to get some lugged tires, go to a wider tire, etc. For deep snow man invented the 'fat bike'. Google it.

    For snow covered roads you might want to use a mountain bike or a cyclo-cross style bike. Any local bike shop can advise you regarding equipment and clothing. For riding short rides on roads clear of snow it will only take a few pieces of warm cycling clothing. Going for longer rides will require better clothing and any significant snow or slush on the road will bring an equipment or bike change into the equation.

    Depending on how into winter riding you get, you may want to dedicate a 'beater' bike to suffering the abuse of all the grit and road salt/sand and water and ice it will see.
     
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  3. JoanMcWench

    JoanMcWench Member

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    I live in a city with freezing bitter winters sometimes overcome with snow & I still bike everywhere I need to go. It helps to know your area as well as the tips already mentioned. I know what time salt trucks run down my routes, when shoveling should be done, & which streets are 'priority' streets. Another thing to consider? You should always make sure your tires are correctly inflated & your chain properly lubed. Cold affects both these things.
     
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  4. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    Fat Bike! Fat Bike! Fat Bike! Bob is right all around - it's just a question of the right bike and the right gear, plus a little trial and error to know what works for you.

    What works for me is a fat bike for deeper snow/heavy ice conditions, OR, this year, I put studded tires on my Mt Bike, for mimimal/light snow conditions. I haven't gotten out enough this winter, not because it's not rideable, but because I'm spending almost all of my free workout time running and swimming - doing a Tri in the spring, I know I can ride, the swim is my worst leg of the event, so it's practice, practice, practice.

    However, I've already worked up my March training schedule with my coach, and it's got a lot more riding on it! :) So, if our weather patterns hold as predicted, that will be a lot of riding in snow/ice conditions.

    If you can't do a bike change, you could definitely do studded tires on a Mt bike. A road bike, though, stick to the trainer.
     
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  5. westmixxin

    westmixxin New Member

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    There's nothing that I hate more than biking in the wintertime and unnecessarily big on the rain hitting me at high speed I'm warmer summer biker to be honest with you.
     
  6. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Quote by West:
    "I'm warmer summer biker to be honest with you."

    You and me both, brother!

    I would much rather sweat than freeze. Still, I do enjoy a couple hours riding outside a couple/three time a week through the craptastic Ohio winters. I can dress for the cold, but I limit rides to roads that are mostly clear of snow and dry.

    Like JH, I focus on other physical activities to maintain fitness when the roads are sucking. There's firewood to be cut and stacked, shoveling the white stuff, cross country skiing, etc. Hell, just doing anything outside when it's 10° F will keep a body in baseline condition.
     
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  7. blur92

    blur92 New Member

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    Thanks for the answers everyone! I appreciate your help. I'm glad to hear it is still a decent possibility to ride in winter. I miss cardio during these months. Still, what are the chances I will fall flat on my face or how difficult is it exactly to ride in winter for a relatively new bicyclist? I mean in relation to people who consider it a hobby or handle it more seriously.
     
  8. Lizel

    Lizel Active Member

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    Yes, of course it's possible. Although I don't bike in the Winter because there's usually a ton of snow in Poland during the Winter. :(
     
  9. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    I gotta tell you, 3 winters on my fat bike and I never came close to wiping out. Tires are very stable on everything they encounter, even black ice.
     
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  10. blur92

    blur92 New Member

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    This makes me extremely hopeful. How much do fat bikes cost? Also, are there certain tires I should buy?
     
  11. retrogrinch

    retrogrinch New Member

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    As others already posted, yes absolutely!

    In fresh untracked powder a 28c road tire is just fine - it knifes thru the snow and provides decent traction. Note that when riding in fresh powder I use platform pedals without toeclips or straps to get a foot down quickly. I also opt for a heavier duty tire to avoid the PITA of a flat.

    An aggressive MTB tire also works fine. The wider tires will flat more but a good aggressive tread will give decent traction.

    Once the snow gets plowed and you're on roads where cars have tracked the snow then you might want to consider studded tires. These come in three basic forms:
    - Minimalist versions to get safely across that unexpected patch of ice (around 100 studs per tire)
    - Medium duty with 160 to 220 studs will provide much greater traction cornering, climbing, etc
    - Heavy duty (dare I say extreme) will have 300++ studs and are intended to get through the most challenging conditions (icy ruts, etc)

    Peter White Cycles has an excellent page on studded tires and compares the various models/brands he carries. If you're going to splurge for studded tires, I would suggest only considering carbide studs - steel studs will wear out VERY quickly. Carbide last (almost) forever.

    Good clothing is a huge help. The latest Pearl Izumi Amphib tights are the warmest I've ever owned (my 4th generation of PI tights I've purchased). I've been fine with these and shorts in 20 degree rides. Lesser tights are fine with additional layers. If you don't like the feeling of low rider tights (aka plumber fit), consider an inexpensive set of suspenders.

    Last thot… pace yourself. Working up a big sweat will likely give chills later. Higher performance wicking/breathing fabrics can handle modest amounts of moisture.

    Cheers,
    Greg
     
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  12. markfl

    markfl New Member

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    As long as its not riding on snow covered roads I'm good with road riding in the winter. I have done temps as low as 31-32 degrees pretty comfortably using some decent cold weather gear, actually got to warm a few times. I think riding in cold and winter weather is great although a little extra caution is needed due to possible ice and stuff. It sure beats the trainer rides that's for sure.
     
  13. OGRICHBOI

    OGRICHBOI New Member

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    Be sure to dress accordingly. I make sure to wear an under armor long sleeve, under a light windbreaker jacket. Also, I just purchased some Nike Pro Combat tights from Modell's, so I will see how those work. Do not forget that there may be ice on the road! Be careful at all times, and of course, bundle up!
     
  14. johnderman

    johnderman New Member

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    I tried riding in the winter, only there was snow and ice all over the roads. I pulled around a corner and nearly fell off my bike, and somehow my britches ended up in my chain and ripped a big hole in my pants, and I had to rush home, change my pants, and take the car to work instead, because it was just too darn dangerous! If you ride in the winter make sure your tires can handle it, and you have half the stability on ice that a car has, so just take it easy.
     
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  15. blur92

    blur92 New Member

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    Oh wow, this is somewhat discouraging :unsure: were the tires on your bicycle not appropriate for the weather conditions?
     
  16. lordrenly

    lordrenly New Member

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    Well, I am quite fortunate to live in the Bay Area where black ice is not a problem. I just need to put layers of clothes and I should be good to go during winter. However, I can imagine the difficulty of riding during snow days and black ice is the scariest thing. It was scary enough for me as a pedestrian, I cannot imagine how scary it is for bikers with the wrong tire.

    I guess other than the tire, which other people who actually live in snowy areas seem to know better, you also need to be careful of muscle cramps. Warm up your muscle properly and keep yourself hydrated so that you can keep your body in a prime condition even when biking in cold weather.
     
  17. goldenmaine

    goldenmaine New Member

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    [SIZE=10.5pt]There would be risks I guess, but riding safe and with precaution can result in a safe ride. Same here, riding the stationary bike is really not that fun and it is better outside. Snow that is too thick may be difficult to traverse or impossible even, also some icy paths may be slippery and dangerous so watch out for these. [/SIZE]
     
  18. Pronghorn

    Pronghorn New Member

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    Yes. It's a matter of having the right clothing. However, today's ride, that occurred during a temperature range between 18 and 21 degrees Fahrenheit, shut me down after about 30 miles. Using a pair of neoprene booties, covered with a pair of Goretex booties proved a bit less than needed. I wimped out when I could not feel my toes for an extended period of time. For me, my toes are the sticking point. After 40 years of cycling, I am still figuring it all out.
     
  19. shilpa123

    shilpa123 New Member

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    It is definitely the matter of right clothing. I do believe that one can replace ride and enjoy their rides in bike by being well aware of the situation. Also the bike would definitely require big tires. Hence one must be careful while selecting them.
     
  20. shilpa123

    shilpa123 New Member

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    It is definitely the matter of right clothing. I do believe that one can replace ride and enjoy their rides in bike by being well aware of the situation. Also the bike would definitely require big tires. Hence one must be careful while selecting them.
     
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