Jan 12, 2010

Repeat Customers and Winter Riding

I can see that I have a few regular viewers of this blog, which surprises me. I have a sense of who a few of you are, but others are a mystery - especially your out-of-towners. If you are a frequent visitor and not one of the usual suspects, I would appreciate a comment below to help put a virtual face to a url. Feedback on content or topics is welcome as well.

Now, on to winter riding...

I fell off the wagon on commuting pretty quickly once the weather got really cold. I rode through November, which was glorious, but winter hit us pretty hard in early December. The snow and ice sealed the deal for me and I have been relegated to the bus for most of December and January. It's finally a little warmer and I was getting itchy to ride, so last night when I got home from work I changed and went for a short ride.

The ice-rutted side streets were an absolute bitch at first. Even with studded tires and pretty low tire pressure, I nearly crashed into a parked car at one point when my front wheel dropped into a rut and my rear wheel didn't. But I Fred Flintstoned it a little bit and recovered, and no real harm was done (I wonder if my car insurance would have covered that potential mishap?). I did get a lot better at ice riding in a relatively short time - it turns out it's very easy to go faster than you should, so once I figured that out I was fine. I also made it up the relatively steep hill near my house with no real problem whatsoever (one of the only advantages of a little extra weight over the rear wheel). The main streets were not a problem at all, and my gear was just fine, so I don't have any problems with being cold or riding in the dark, it's just the ice that was bringing me down. So, I know it can be done, at least down to about 10 degrees or so. I've ridden in below zero temps, but it was more of a dare than for transportation. Maybe something to work up to...

This ride was a confidence builder for me, and I may very well ride to work yet this week while it's still warm. Of course I forgot my camera, so all I have to offer is shot from the Route 14 this evening. The bus is bringing me down, and I have to admit some satisfaction last night when I walked into the grocery store and coffee shop in my balaclava and helmet and got stared at by the civilians.

That's it. Ride safe, share the road and keep an eye out for the winter finches.


  1. It took me a couple of years to make it to riding all winter. I essentially extended the date I'd pack up for the winter a bit each year and as my bike-handling skills and clothing selection sharpened, my confidence continued to grow until I could ride all year. Don't think that you need to push it -- ride later into the year and start earlier the next. Motivation is hard to find when you're looking at -15F and gusts to 25 MPH.

    Sometimes the bus is truly the best way to go...

  2. I actually also fell off the biking riding for 2-3 weeks during Dec and early Jan, but I did use the bus also which is better than driving. This has been a tough winter.

  3. I have found that 5 to 10 above zero is the bottom end of my winter riding. The neighborhood streets here in Standish are brutal, but the trail along light rail is OK.

  4. In my opinion, this week is about as good as January gets. Temp-wise, anyway. The ice blows.