Commuting Report: Week 1

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Jeff Williams, Oct 3, 2003.

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  1. I just started commuting by bike to school. I thought I'd try posting a weekly summary of my
    experiences, FWIW.

    A bit of background. I'm commuting from home to the continuing ed department of the University of
    Winnipeg. The route I take avoids major arteries and is about 7.5 miles end to end. I recently
    bought a used mountain bike for the commute as I really don't want to ride my good road bike in the
    winter nor do I wish to park it unattended in downtown Winnipeg for any length of time. I topped 40
    this year and I need to lose some weight (about 35lbs, give or take). I hope to cycle right through
    the winter. That will depend on how the bike performs (it has a front fork suspension system that
    some, but not all, advisors claim won't work in the winter) and how well the city clears the roads I
    use (hard packed, rutted snow probably will be no fun for cycling) - I'm not obsessed.

    This week's results: I rode to class 4 times (nasty headache on Wednesday sent me walking to the
    bus) for about 60 miles total distance. I'm taking about 40 minutes each way, on average. Coldest
    ride: -6C including windchill.

    This week's observations: Living west of the school is bad since prevailing winds almost always have
    a western component. Minimum wind speed seems to occur about the time I ride to class.

    There are a lot more bicycle commuters in Winnipeg than I expected. I wonder if they ride in
    the winter.

    Pedestrians seem to have less sense when they see cyclists than do drivers.

    Possession of a driver's licence guarantees neither intelligence nor common sense.

    --
    Jeff Williams To reply, swap the obvious bits in the return address.
     
    Tags:


  2. In article <[email protected]>,
    "Jeff Williams" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I just started commuting by bike to school. I thought I'd try posting a weekly summary of my
    > experiences, FWIW.

    > A bit of background. I'm commuting from home to the continuing ed department of the University of
    > Winnipeg. The route I take avoids major arteries and is about 7.5 miles end to end. I recently
    > bought a used mountain bike for the commute as I really don't want to ride my good road bike in
    > the winter nor do I wish to park it unattended in downtown Winnipeg for any length of time. I
    > topped 40 this year and I need to lose some weight (about 35lbs, give or take). I hope to cycle
    > right through the winter. That will depend on how the bike performs (it has a front fork
    > suspension system that some, but not all, advisors claim won't work in the winter) and how well
    > the city clears the roads I use (hard packed, rutted snow probably will be no fun for cycling) -
    > I'm not obsessed.

    You're riding on city streets? The suspension fork will not do anything important. If you're feeling
    mechanical, replace it with a rigid fork for a small weight loss. You did already replace the knobby
    tires with road tires, right?

    As for the snow issues, how devoted to riding through the winter are you? MEC sells a studded
    snow tire.

    > This week's results: I rode to class 4 times (nasty headache on Wednesday sent me walking to the
    > bus) for about 60 miles total distance. I'm taking about 40 minutes each way, on average. Coldest
    > ride: -6C including windchill.

    Congratulations!

    --
    Ryan Cousineau, [email protected] http://www.sfu.ca/~rcousine President, Fabrizio Mazzoleni Fan Club
     
  3. Badger South

    Badger South Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, Jeff Williams <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I just started commuting by bike to school. I thought I'd try posting a weekly summary of my
    >experiences, FWIW.

    Hi Jeff. interesting, and good for you to get back into biking at 40-something. Beware of those
    pedestrians! They do strange things. You hollar 'passing on your Left' (like in Skiing), and they
    turn around and see you and look at you and then back away -to- the left. <g> I've now taken to
    hollaring 'BIKE!', and then trying to avoid them. However where I ride we have free range dogs, and
    dogs on leashes. ;-)

    <snippage>
    >This week's results: I rode to class 4 times (nasty headache on Wednesday sent me walking to the
    >bus) for about 60 miles total distance. I'm taking about 40 minutes each way, on average. Coldest
    >ride: -6C including windchill.

    Wow, that's pretty amazing. Are you just wearing street clothes and a coat and gloves, or do you use
    a ski mask?

    [One suggestion. If you're trying to drop weight, you might consider cutting back on dietary sugar
    and starch. Just before the ride, you can eat a little carbs.]

    Best,

    -Badger

    >This week's observations: Living west of the school is bad since prevailing winds almost always
    >have a western component. Minimum wind speed seems to occur about the time I ride to class.
    >
    >There are a lot more bicycle commuters in Winnipeg than I expected. I wonder if they ride in
    >the winter.
    >
    >Pedestrians seem to have less sense when they see cyclists than do drivers.
    >
    >Possession of a driver's licence guarantees neither intelligence nor common sense.
    >
    >--
    >Jeff Williams To reply, swap the obvious bits in the return address.
    >
    >

    --
    [email protected]
     
  4. Buck

    Buck Guest

    "Ryan Cousineau" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > You're riding on city streets? The suspension fork will not do anything important. If you're
    > feeling mechanical, replace it with a rigid fork for a small weight loss. You did already replace
    > the knobby tires with road tires, right?

    While I will agree with Ryan about the tires, whether or not you keep the suspension is really up to
    you, the roads you ride, and where else you might take your bike. I commuted on a full-suspension
    for several years for two reasons: first, I only had space for one bike and two sets of wheels (one
    with knobbies) meant I could prowl the streets during the week and bomb the trails on the weekend.
    Second, the suspension really helped on a couple of really bad segments of my ride. The roads there
    were nothing but patches laid upon patches for blocks at a time. Suspension really made a huge
    difference.

    Whether or not your suspension will work in the cold depends on whether it uses springs or
    elastomers. Elastomers will harden and become useless in the winter. A good set of replacement
    springs will keep it going. You may also have to use a lighter grease.

    Enjoy the ride!

    -Buck
     
  5. Ryan Cousineau <[email protected]> wrote:
    : As for the snow issues, how devoted to riding through the winter are you? MEC sells a studded
    : snow tire.

    ryan, aren't studded snow tyres just a theoretical possibility to you?

    winnipeg, minneapolis -- damn near the same thing. 'cept that i'm pretty sure minneapolis is a part
    of ontario and not manitoba. brother, you don't need studs, you don't even need wide tyres. you need
    spin and balance, patience and a really good jacket. when you go down the snow is pretty soft.
    riding in snow is an *enormous* amount of fun.

    get good lights.
    --
    david reuteler [email protected]
     
  6. >when you go down the snow is pretty soft.

    When you go down on a frozen city street it ain't so pretty.

    This happened to me last winter but all was cool, I ripped up my leg but it wasn't terminal.

    I'm in favor of big tires, slow speeds and low gears in these situations.

    And you might want to lower the seat, if I'd been able to dab more effectively I probably wouldn't
    have crashed.

    --

    _______________________ALL AMIGA IN MY MIND_______________________ ------------------"Buddy Holly,
    the Texas Elvis"------------------
    __________306.350.357.38>>[email protected]__________
     
  7. Tom Keats

    Tom Keats Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    David Reuteler <[email protected]> writes:
    >
    > winnipeg, minneapolis -- damn near the same thing. 'cept that i'm pretty sure minneapolis is a
    > part of ontario and not manitoba.

    <grin> reminds me of the Rocky & Bullwinkle episode where the residents of Frostbite Falls are so
    unproud of their city, they're trying to push it onto the /other/ side of the border.

    And meeting resistance as the other side pushes back.

    cheers, Tom

    --
    -- Powered by FreeBSD Above address is just a spam midden. I'm really at: tkeats [curlicue] vcn
    [point] bc [point] ca
     
  8. Jeff Williams <[email protected]> wrote:
    > winter. That will depend on how the bike performs (it has a front fork suspension system that
    > some, but not all, advisors claim won't work in the

    What do you mean by "won't work"? If it jams and stays fully extended (like any cheap K-Mart
    suspension bike will eventually do) you've just reverted back to a rigid fork. I doubt you'll miss
    your suspension when riding on city roads.

    (OTOH, if you ever ride on a bike path in the middle of January, with a mixture of snow and ice that
    has been stepped on by hundreds of pedestrians, you'll wish the whole bike was built out of shock
    absorbers. <g>)

    > winter) and how well the city clears the roads I use (hard packed, rutted snow probably will be no
    > fun for cycling) - I'm not obsessed.

    Hard packed snow, which is what you often see on residential roads, is actually quite nice, almost
    as hard and smooth as the pavement. The worst is the black glop you'll see on arterials, that
    mixture of snow, salt and calcium that gets stuck under your fenders and can easily wipe you out.
    In-between is the fresh snow, which doesn't pose a threat, but can make every foot turn into a
    struggle. (Now you'll know what it feels like to ride to school uphill both ways. <g>)

    > This week's results: I rode to class 4 times (nasty headache on Wednesday sent me walking to the
    > bus) for about 60 miles total distance. I'm taking about 40 minutes each way, on average. Coldest
    > ride: -6C including windchill.

    You'll find that since you're working out, you'll be warmer on the bike than you would be on foot.
    It's your extremities, especially your fingers, that will feel the cold first; make sure you have a
    pair of warm gloves or mitts. (Lobster claws are a nice compromise.)

    > Living west of the school is bad since prevailing winds almost always have a western component.
    > Minimum wind speed seems to occur about the time I ride to class.

    Think of it this way: would you rather face a headwind early in the morning when it's colder, you're
    not completely awake, and you have a schedule to keep? Or how about in the afternoon, when it's
    warmer, and you can ride at a more leisurly pace?

    > There are a lot more bicycle commuters in Winnipeg than I expected. I wonder if they ride in
    > the winter.

    I think you'll find, as I did, that you're never the only one.

    Glad to see you're giving this a try. Don't rush in, and take your time. When I started out (I
    commuted by bike year-round in 96-00), I never set out to ride through the winter; I simply figured
    I'd stop when it wasn't fun anymore.

    Here's a few more thoughts from the top of my head:

    * Check out <http://www.icebike.com>, lots of interesting info.

    * Make a trip to your MEC store; they've got some winter cycling gear. (Although they seem to be
    clearing out some of that stuff, don't know why.) Ski clothing is also an interesting alternative.

    * Don't count on that bike rack to be there all winter; it'll probably be removed, or disappear
    under the snow. Don't wait to find out your U-lock won't fit around that lamppost!

    * If you leave your bike outside at night, never store it wet. There will be a few times when it's
    +3 when you ride home, and it's -25 the next morning. I learned this lesson the hard way.

    * Ask if/when your LBS will close for winter. If they do, you might want to get some spare parts; I
    went through my share of brake and shift cables (and even housing). In a pinch, your Canadian Tire
    might have some left, but they don't restock, so don't count on it.

    * Don't get attached to you winter bike -- mine lasted two years on average. When you throw it away,
    strip it bare. Trashed bikes are a good source of spare parts, which are then useful when you're
    fixing your new (used) winter bike.

    * WD-40 is your friend. Your bike has lots of exposed mechanical parts that are begging to just
    freeze solid. Not to mention your bike lock. (Throw away the plastic frame mount for your lock;
    it'll break before next spring.)

    Take it one day at a time, and don't get discouraged. If you end up not liking it, no harm done, but
    sometimes all you need is to take the bus and give yourself a break today, and tomorrow you're back
    on the saddle. And if it doesn't work out this winter, there's always next year.

    Good luck!

    --
    Frederic Briere <*> [email protected]

    => <[email protected]> IS NO MORE: <http://www.abacomsucks.com> <=
     
  9. Ryan Cousineau <[email protected]> wrote:
    > for a small weight loss. You did already replace the knobby tires with road tires, right?

    Won't he end up putting the knobbies back in a few weeks? :)

    > As for the snow issues, how devoted to riding through the winter are you? MEC sells a studded
    > snow tire.

    Hey, thanks! I hadn't noticed that they did. (Never bothered looking at their off-road selection.)

    But as for the OP, if he's riding on city streets, I doubt he'll find studded tires very useful.
    They're heavenly on ice (I once bought a pair, and put them to use on a bike path that had turned
    into a skating ring), but they can be quite annoying on the pavement, and they wear out fast. Having
    two sets of wheels can be a solution, but unless you're only swapping the front wheel (with a QR
    skewer on both), it's probably too much of a hassle for the morning commuter.

    --
    Frederic Briere <*> [email protected]

    => <[email protected]> IS NO MORE: <http://www.abacomsucks.com> <=
     
  10. "Ryan Cousineau" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > You're riding on city streets? The suspension fork will not do anything important. If you're
    > feeling mechanical, replace it with a rigid fork for a small weight loss. You did already replace
    > the knobby tires with road tires, right?

    I really didn't want a suspension fork - it was/is simply part of the only decent used bike I could
    find. I don't have the money to spend on a new fork. I am intending to get studded tires. I don't
    really have the cash for both studded tires and road tires, so I'm living with the knobbies
    (ick). It will be interesting to see whether commuting is practical through the winter. My main goal
    is timely, cost-effective commuting. I have no intention of getting myself killed just to be
    able to cycle to class.
     
  11. In article <[email protected]>, David Reuteler
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Ryan Cousineau <[email protected]> wrote:
    > : As for the snow issues, how devoted to riding through the winter are you? MEC sells a studded
    > : snow tire.
    >
    > ryan, aren't studded snow tyres just a theoretical possibility to you?

    Basically, yes. I live next to a 1000' high "mountain", so I can ride up to snow several times a
    year, and there are several ski hills within an hour's ride of my house, but snow is something I
    would only get on my commute route for a week or so during the winter.

    > winnipeg, minneapolis -- damn near the same thing. 'cept that i'm pretty sure minneapolis is a
    > part of ontario and not manitoba. brother, you don't need studs, you don't even need wide tyres.
    > you need spin and balance, patience and a really good jacket. when you go down the snow is pretty
    > soft. riding in snow is an *enormous* amount of fun.
    >
    > get good lights.

    --
    Ryan Cousineau, [email protected] http://www.sfu.ca/~rcousine President, Fabrizio Mazzoleni Fan Club
     
  12. "David Reuteler" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > winnipeg, minneapolis -- damn near the same thing. 'cept that i'm pretty sure minneapolis is a
    > part of ontario and not manitoba. brother, you
    don't
    > need studs, you don't even need wide tyres. you need spin and balance, patience and a really good
    > jacket. when you go down the snow is pretty
    soft.
    > riding in snow is an *enormous* amount of fun.

    PROVIDED YOU DON'T GO DOWN IN FRONT OF A CAR.

    > get good lights.
    I have lights that make me visible to others. I don't expect to need lights to enable me to see -
    Winnipeg is the best lit city I've ever seen.
     
  13. Eric S. Sande <[email protected]> wrote:
    :>when you go down the snow is pretty soft.
    :
    : When you go down on a frozen city street it ain't so pretty.

    yea, these low snow winters are murder. i'd say dive for the snow pile but there haven't been any.
    ice is a lot harder to ride on than snow.

    : I'm in favor of big tires, slow speeds and low gears in these situations.

    for me it's high gears and low rpms. riding on ice is a lot like riding on rollers at slow speeds.
    the key is a very smooth stroke, good balance and never ever freewheel.
    --
    david reuteler [email protected]
     
  14. Doug Purdy

    Doug Purdy Guest

    "Jeff Williams" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > A bit of background. I'm commuting from home to the continuing ed department of the University of
    > Winnipeg. The route I take avoids major arteries and is about 7.5 miles end to end. I recently
    > bought a used mountain bike for the commute as I really don't want to ride my good road bike in
    > the winter nor do I wish to park it unattended in downtown
    Winnipeg
    > for any length of time. I topped 40 this year and I need to lose some weight (about 35lbs, give or
    > take). I hope to cycle right through the winter. That will depend on how the bike performs (it has
    > a front fork

    In winter I run lower pressure 30-35 psi so whether the front fork works or not isn't a big
    issue for me.

    I ride through the winter in Toronto although long hours have pushed me to drive my van sometimes
    for weeks at a time. Toronto has lots of winter riders but it is a LOT warmer than Winnipeg. I've
    read other WPG riders on the Icebike list <http://listserv.heanet.ie/icebike.html>

    I use studded tires of various kinds. They are necessary for offroad paths here as they consist of
    bumpy ice much of the winter. For roads a front tire such as MECs Schwalb Snow stud is enough to
    provide security against black ice surprises or simply forgetting NOT to use your front brake. There
    are some cheap Asian studded tires but the studs do not last the winter. Studs on Nokian tires last
    several winters. Although, if you're not in traffic you might not be hurt in winter falls. I've only
    been injured in the summer.

    A real treat for cold hands are pogies (mine are MEC). They are cheaper than really good mitts
    and they protect your controls from freezing rain. You might want to try a Grunge Guard to keep
    your rear der working in those conditions. My feet were warm until I switched to clipless pedals
    and are finally warming up with 2-3 booties over shoes a couple sizes larger than summer to fit
    winter socks.

    Lots of winter riders wear expensive bicycle rain jackets when it's too cold to rain. I'm one of the
    riders who find these jackets just soak you in your own sweat, especially in winter. A newspaper can
    be used for a chest wind barrier that can make a cheap ordinary jacket work better than many $$$
    cycling rain jackets.

    MEC has lots of good winter underwear and tights if you're into changing clothes, gaiters for
    fighting slush.

    Doug Toronto
     
  15. Kaputnik

    Kaputnik Guest

    "Jeff Williams" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    >I hope to cycle right through the winter. That will depend on how the bike performs (it has a front
    >fork suspension system that some, but not all, advisors claim won't work in the winter) and how
    >well the city clears the roads I use (hard packed, rutted snow probably will be no fun for cycling)
    >- I'm not obsessed.

    I'll ride occasionally through the winter when the roads have been really well cleared. I end up
    spending a lot more time on indoor trainers, though.

    What worries me most about snow is not how my bike handles, or riding in the cold, although
    those are both concerns. What really makes me paranoid is the cars. I keep expecting them to
    skid into me, and with snow piled high on the sides of the road, I have a narrower road with
    fewer bailout options.

    But that's just me, and the area I live in. YMMV. I hope it works out well for you.
     
  16. Dejavu

    Dejavu Guest

    Jeff Williams <[email protected]> scribed in <[email protected]>:

    > Pedestrians seem to have less sense when they see cyclists than do drivers.

    and are horrified when they learn that getting hit by a cyclist can put them in hospital.

    so far, my count is cyclists 1, pedestrians 0. I was doing about 35km/h, he stepped into the road
    with no warning and without looking, I had a car coming up behind me so could not swerve out. I hit
    him hard and he was still unconcious when the ambulance arrived 10 minutes later. I was ok, so was
    the bike besides having to realigne the front wheel with the handle bars. The police had no idea
    which form to fill in for that sort of accident. (-:

    swarf, steam and wind

    --
    David Forsyth -:- the email address is real /"\ http://terrapin.ru.ac.za/~iwdf/welcome.html \
    / ASCII Ribbon campaign against HTML E-Mail > - - - - - - -> X If you receive email saying
    "Send this to everyone you know," / \ PLEASE pretend you don't know me.
     
  17. Kevan Smith

    Kevan Smith Guest

    On 6 Oct 2003 14:50:33 GMT, DejaVU <[email protected]> from I'm alone out here wrote:

    >so far, my count is cyclists 1, pedestrians 0. I was doing about 35km/h, he stepped into the road
    >with no warning and without looking, I had a car coming up behind me so could not swerve out.

    You couldn't hop the curb or lay the bike down? Better a damaged bike than hurting a pedestrian liek
    you did. You got the worst of both. I can understand hitting a pedestrian on accident, but the way
    you worded it, it sounds like you didn't try to avoid hitting him at all. I'd really like not to
    think that about you. A bit more detail?


    --
    http://home.sport.rr.com/cuthulu/ human rights = peace If elected, Zippy pledges to each and every
    American a 55-year-old houseboy ...
    12:16:21 PM 6 October 2003
     
  18. Doug Purdy

    Doug Purdy Guest

    "DejaVU" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > I was doing about 35km/h, he stepped into the road with no warning and without looking, I had a
    > car coming up behind me so could not swerve out. I hit him hard and he was still unconcious when
    > the ambulance arrived 10 minutes later. I was ok, so was the bike

    Riding on the sidewalk, back when I was an "around the block" cyclist, I ran into a little girl 8-10
    years old. She was unhurt but I was really bashed up and ended up with my head under the front
    bumper of a car. The cyclist doesn't always win.

    Doug Toronto
     
  19. Dejavu

    Dejavu Guest

    Kevan Smith </dev/null> scribed in <[email protected]>:

    >On 6 Oct 2003 14:50:33 GMT, DejaVU <[email protected]> from I'm alone out here wrote:
    >
    >>so far, my count is cyclists 1, pedestrians 0. I was doing about 35km/h, he stepped into the road
    >>with no warning and without looking, I had a car coming up behind me so could not swerve out.
    >
    >You couldn't hop the curb or lay the bike down? Better a damaged bike than hurting a pedestrian
    >liek you did. You got the worst of both. I can understand hitting a pedestrian on accident, but the
    >way you worded it, it sounds like you didn't try to avoid hitting him at all. I'd really like not
    >to think that about you. A bit more detail?

    nope, no way I'd hit anyone on purpose!

    this guy was walking along the edge of the road, on the road side of the parked cars, despite there
    being a wide sidewalk (this is Africa and this is common, yes, it annoys me). the curb at that place
    is double height with a concrete drain ditch on the road edge, iirc.

    so, no-where to go really, though there were some open spaces in the parkings, I had to be
    in the road.

    the road is relatively narrow when cars are parked both sides. (I can go and take a picture of it,
    it hasn't changed and I still live in my birthtown)

    secondly, he stepped out 'at a run'. very sudden, as to jog across the road. did not turn to look
    back at oncoming traffic, nothing. I was actually watching him but could hear a car coming (which he
    obviously didn't hear). if there had been no car coming, I would have been out in the middle of the
    road for sure. he just chose the worst possible moment of all possible moments. I had nowhere to go
    and no time to do it in.

    was I going too fast for the situation? I say maybe. if the pedestrian had been 'normal' or
    'reasonable' and had turned to look back for traffic, I would not have hit him, both due to the
    timing and because that would have warned me and him and the car drivers. but he wasn't normal. must
    I live my whole life worrying over the few abnormals? maybe, maybe not.

    also, keep in mind this was 1981 or so and I was 15 or 16.

    yes, I remember this all very clearly. annoyingly clearly in fact, I'd rather forget.

    swarf, steam and wind

    --
    David Forsyth -:- the email address is real /"\ http://terrapin.ru.ac.za/~iwdf/welcome.html \
    / ASCII Ribbon campaign against HTML E-Mail > - - - - - - -> X If you receive email saying
    "Send this to everyone you know," / \ PLEASE pretend you don't know me.
     
  20. Kevan Smith

    Kevan Smith Guest

    On 7 Oct 2003 09:57:04 GMT, DejaVU <[email protected]> from I'm alone out here wrote:

    >secondly, he stepped out 'at a run'. very sudden, as to jog across the road. did not turn to look
    >back at oncoming traffic, nothing. I was actually watching him but could hear a car coming (which
    >he obviously didn't hear). if there had been no car coming, I would have been out in the middle of
    >the road for sure. he just chose the worst possible moment of all possible moments. I had nowhere
    >to go and no time to do it in.
    >
    >was I going too fast for the situation? I say maybe.

    That does sound unavoidable. Since you were int he road, you weren't going too fast unless you were
    breaking the speed limit.

    --
    http://home.sport.rr.com/cuthulu/ human rights = peace Yow! I just went below the poverty line!
    9:48:30 AM 7 October 2003
     
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