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Thread: Winter weather tips thread?

  1. #1
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    Default Winter weather tips thread?

    There are already tons of threads on here with tips for winter riding. However, I'm far too lazy to look for them, so how about we start a new redundant thread dedicated just to recounting our favorite winter riding tips for new Freezing Saddles players? Or at least re-linking to those old threads?

    OK, I'll start. Here are some categories and a few tips to start things based on my idiosyncrasies and misguided beliefs:

    1. Cold weather.
    -glove liners that dry while you're at work +++++
    -neck gator that covers mouth (push down at stoplights to prevent fogging your glasses; swivel if necessary to rotate spots of frozen snot and/or drool).
    -insulated shoe covers (duh)
    -insulated water bottle -- regular water bottles freeze up when it's below freezing, minimizing your hydration potential (see below 4.)

    2. Wet and cold weather.
    -spend the money on the Gore-tex or equivalent, it's worth it on days like today
    -jackets by Endura -- Scottish people know from cold and windy and wet

    3. Slippery trails and roads.
    -remember, you're no help to your team if you're hurt, so be super slow and careful and don't fall, especially if you're on the downhill side of 50 like I am and those injuries don't heal so fast any more.
    -don't be stupid, it's OK to take the bus or Metro on really bad days to lessen the chance of injury or illness.
    -watch for overnight freeze-over icy spots on trails. If you get on an unexpected icy patch, don't try to turn suddenly or brake hard -- often better to just try to unclip gently and ride it out straight and level even if you go off the trail on to the grass.

    4. Hydration.
    -you need more than you think in winter; it's really dry and you're still sweating and breathing dry air.
    -neck gator to breathe through to warm the air (see 1. above)
    -a hydration pack filled with warm tea is totally excellent. Remember to take a sip every two or three minutes if it's below freezing so the hose doesn't freeze up, unless it's one of those fancy packs designed for skiing.

    5. Safety.
    -people do stupid stuff when they're really cold. Brains freeze up it seems. Be extra aware and careful.
    -wear the high viz: in fact, be the extreme high-viz dork-tastic person you really want to be.
    -run lights day and night on streets, but dim them on trails. You don't need that much light to stay on the trail, but don't skimp on the candlepower on the streets around fogged up cars and brain-frozen drivers.
    -embrace the sleaze ride on really awful days. Some days even the hardest of hard asses should stay near home and save the miles for a better day.
    -when in doubt, keep both hands on the bars. You can signal your intent with an elbow or head shake if necessary. On slippery or wet surface, often better to keep both hands on the bars and brake levers, even if you fail to signal a turn like you would in the summer.

    Here's a layering lesson from Laurie (bikenurse)
    https://www.facebook.com/proteusbicy...2049182527336/

    What else?
    Last edited by Greenbelt; 01-03-2017 at 10:23 PM.

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    Although pricey, wool garments are magical. I have a mid-weight base layer that I'm comfortable wearing under a soft shell from the mid-20's to about 50 degrees. It dries fast and takes a while to get stinky.
    Last edited by Judd; 01-03-2017 at 10:18 PM. Reason: added the reason wool garments are magical

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    Steve O's Avatar
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    Here's a reprise of my post from a couple years ago. (This was before they plowed the Custis.) Still applies:
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    Several people reported going down today and many have expressed trepidation about riding on snow and ice.
    This morning I rode to Java Shack, back home (near EFC) and back to Rosslyn on my 3-speed Western Flyer with wide slicks (see photo below), and--with just one momentary exception--felt pretty comfortable the whole time. Most of this was on the Custis, but some was on streets, too.

    I'm not saying this to boast, but to relay the fact that it is possible, and pretty safe, to ride in these conditions if you use the proper techniques.

    I think the #1 tip is to avoid using your front brake. If you skid your rear tire, you will slide sideways, but you probably won't go down. (That was my one time this morning: on a downhill a truck presented itself as an obstacle while I was literally on a 20-foot patch of ice. I locked up the back wheel, but did not apply the front brake, but rather steered across the ice toward the packed snow along the side of the road. My bike slid partially sideways, but did not fall over, and when I hit the snow, everything straightened back out. If I had hit the front brake [which is one's tendency], I would surely have gone down. I wasn't travelling too fast to start with, so even if I had gone down, I probably would have only bruised my pride.)

    #2 - Keep moving--straight and steady. A moving bike is much more stable than a walking or running person, and way, way more stable than a still bike. You don't have to go very fast, but as long as you are moving in a straight line your bike will virtually always stay up--even on pretty slick surfaces. Try to keep your pedaling as smooth and steady as possible, so that your rear wheel applies a constant pressure.

    #3 - Plan ahead.
    - If you are going to be crossing an ice field, plan ahead for your exit spot, and plot a straight line to it.
    - If you are going to be heading down a hill, slow way down before the beginning, so that you can roll slowly down without needing your front brake
    - Turns can be dangerous, just like using the front brake, so slow down and plan your turns before you start them.

    #4 - When navigating actual snow (like an inch or more deep), you may find that standing up and pedaling is more comfortable. I'm not sure what it is about controlling the bike, but having the bike slide around while you are standing and pedaling is much less troubling than while sitting--at least for me. A more advanced skill is to stand and shift your weight backwards, so that your rear wheel has more weight, and hence more traction, to keep you going. This is helpful on uphills when you don't want to come to a dead stop. Riding in actual snow is harder work, but far less likely to result in falls than on icy surfaces.

    The street I am standing on in the photo below--taken this morning--is completely rideable, even on a road bike (not recommended, though; my druthers is my heavier, wider-tired, 3-speed), if you use the techniques above.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    hozn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Although pricey, wool garments are magical. I have a mid-weight base layer that I'm comfortable wearing under a soft shell from the mid-20's to about 50 degrees. It dries fast and takes a while to get stinky.
    Agreed. Well worth the money. I like the Icebreaker LS base layers; they are relatively affordable on http://www.sierratradingpost.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    Agreed. Well worth the money. I like the Icebreaker LS base layers; they are relatively affordable on http://www.sierratradingpost.com/
    Bookmarking. Those are way good prices.

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    At least once every winter go out in shorts and t-shirt and ride really really fast, you won't regret the momentary laps of reason

    +1 for wool!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Bar Mitts. It is all about the Bar Mitts (or Moose Mitts, or other similar devices) with me. These allow me to ride with no gloves if it is more than 30F outside. Thin gloves or glove liners if it is between 10-30F. Below 10, I will wear mid-weight gloves with them. (I am also lazy, and do not take them off during the winter riding season, so on days like yesterday and today where it is pretty mild, I am still sporting them with sweaty hands!)

    Winter boots and flat pedals. I have a pair of insulated Keen boots that I got for cheap on Sierra Trading Post that I wear if it is below 32F. They keep my feet toasty warm. In addition, they have great grip if I need to put a foot down in snow/ice.

    Ski Helmet/Goggles. I wear these if it is below 25 and windy. The ski helmet is often a bit too warm, but it keeps my goggles in place better than my commuter helmet.

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    Cold Weather Biking Tips: Infographic!

    Scared of riding in the winter? Winter in DC really isn't that bad. 2015's winter only had 14 days that it actually snowed, and 16 days that there was snow on the ground. 93% of winter days had a high above freezing, and 66% of winter days had a low above freezing. Here's the blog post.

    Venturing out into the snow? Here are some equipment and technique tips!

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    Agreed. Well worth the money. I like the Icebreaker LS base layers; they are relatively affordable on http://www.sierratradingpost.com/
    I started shopping with them ... 18 years ago(?) and have been getting what feels like a coupon everyday since Their coupons range from 25-35% additional off to the rare 45% off. I'm the Imelda Marcos of helmets and have purchased at least 8 Giro Xar helmets over the years for ~$50/pop from STP

    So, sign up for their coupons and get at least 25% additional off, and set your filters to funnel them into their own category before it gets too annoying.


    *I just checked, I get 2 emails every day from them.
    Last edited by drevil; 01-04-2017 at 10:13 AM.

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    The best bargain in wool, especially for base layers, are those old sweaters with holes in them you (if you are like me) have stuffed in the back of drawers, closets, and bins. Wool is wool and you already paid for those old sweaters. You can be cheap and warm!

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