Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mid-winter bicycling report

Here's at my end... I hope things are suitable for you, wherever you may happen to be...


I was riding the "skinny tire" bike up through January 12. It was traumatic at times. On that day I did what I should've done a couple weeks earlier... put the treaded tires on my "beater" mountain bike, and did a quick check of cables, brakes, etc. (I probably hadn't ridden it since last winter, so the inspection was merited. Everything looked OK.)

The beater - with it's 2+ inch semi-knobby tires - has been much better on the slushy and icy stuff, where those skinny tires got unstable and unpredictable.

The downside - obviously there's more rolling resistance. Of course, rolling resistance is a non-factor when you're bouncing around on frozen slush-piles

And - the beater has my old saddle on it. Despite the fact that I've probably accumulated 50,000 miles or more on that saddle, it feels so uncomfortable and hard, after enjoying my leather Selle An-Atomica saddle for a few years. The An-Atomica feels like I'm sitting on a customized hammock; the "traditional" saddle feels like I'm sitting on the "2-by" side of a 2-by-4. (It's most noticeable when I first get on the thing... after I've ridden for 5 minutes it doesn't feel as much like a torture device.) I bought a second An-Atomica saddle, but it's so shiny and new I'm hesitant to start using it! It's my "reserve" saddle! And I'd never feel right about leaving it in the weather... the beater bike lives outdoors under a carport-like thing. I s'pose I could pull the seatpost out every night and bring it inside... If our sub-freezing inversion looks like it will be prolonged, I may do some saddle-switching.

When I get to the office, I'm occasionally filled with black envy and covetousness... somebody parks a bike in there that looks like it was built for riding on snow and sand, with super-wide floatation-type tires. I believe the tires are made by Surly, and are called "Moon Lander" or something like that - they must be 4 inches wide! They look like motocross tires! (Since we normally have maybe 10-14 days a year when snow is a factor, it would be impractical from a financial standpoint. But if I win the PowerBall, my priorities will include one of those things.)

I have 3 or 4 colleagues who have been faithful bike commuters. (Compared with ten times that many in the warm months.)


("Software" being the stuff I wear when I'm riding.)

A colleague asked me how many layers I wear on the cold days.

I've been wearing a fleece sweater-type thing with zip-up high collar. My Gore-tex wind and waterproof jacket over that. I have a medium-weight balaclava - warm enough to be effective, but thin enough to fit under my brain bucket. When it's dark I wear some amber-tinted glasses; regular sunglasses in the day. Gloves. I routinely put some blistex-type stuff on my lips before venturing out, so they won't crack.

Other than that, it's business as usual.

If I were to ride all day, I'd need to use glove liners and some improved foot insulation... and even my lower half gets a little "tingly" after being out there for awhile, when it's below 20 or so. (Does anybody make a down-filled jock strap? haha!)


My mileage is down considerably... I'm trying to ride at least 10 miles a day, but I've missed that mark several times. If I get 250 miles for the month, I'll feel pretty good about it.

I've been "taking the lane" frequently, when the tire paths are clear but the edge of the road is gnarly. As long as it's not on major arterials, it's worked out well. Most motorists are cooperative and empathetic. (Many probably question my overall sanity, since my perspective is so different from their own... but they don't endanger me needlessly by tailgating, etc.)

I'm thinkin' the worst may be behind us, in another week or so. In these parts.


Bob T said...

I have found the Icebike site to be a good source of information for winter cycling, especially with the much colder than average temperatures that we have experienced lately in the Boise area.

By the way, thanks to your recommendation I purchased a Selle Anatomica saddle during their recent sale and I couldn't be happier with it!

Scott said...

Winter riding in Baghdad has mainly been exercise riding (I live 300 yards from work. I wonder if that qualifies me for the bike commuter subsidy...). Although it is cold and has been an exceptionally wet winter with awful drainage.

Gear includes my mountain bike with Kenda hybrid tires that have a thin strip of "road tread" in the middle. Add to that a long sleeve t-shirt or hoodie, gloves, a fleece hat under my helmet until I get warmed up, headlight, cat-eye taillight (really bright from a too-narrow viewing angle) and removable trunk bag with my trauma kit and Milk Bones for the bomb dogs. Also my iPod fed into a Bluetooth headphone with only one earbud used.

idahospeed said...

Nice post.

I also bought a Selle Anatomica based on Bike Nazi's recommendation. Just got it in the mail today, took a while due to the order volume.

Additionally, I just loaded up on lights from Can't believe the prices there. And, it took just over two weeks for delivery so I'm happy.

Anyway we can get Scott to give us more on riding in Iraq?

Bikeboy said...

I hope those An-Atomicas work out for you. I've been totally spoiled by mine!

And Scott made me feel a little silly for complaining about my bicycling conditions! Never have I felt the need to pack my trauma kit, or treats for the bomb dogs! I guess I'll try to be happy in the cold.

(Your comments are very much appreciated. I had to add a "verifier" because I was getting hundreds of spam messages... they used to get automatically blocked, but apparently something changed.)

Scott said...

I'd also point out that I wear racquetball glasses at night or in rain. I have a set of Head glasses right now that seem to work realy well, and they're not uncomfortable.