The Long Cold Winter Commuter Support Thread
Who else rides through the rain, sleet, snow, cold and dark of winter? We've begun our decent into the cold, dark months, the headlight is becoming a necessity, and it will be April or May before I am wearing shorts in the morning again. This morning it was 39 degrees...chilly, but nothing compared to what January will be like. I've been doing the year-round thing for 4 years now, and I have had no one to share the experience with. I thought it would be a good idea to have a thread where we could share war stories through the winter.
Personally, I'm out there every day that the roads are plowed. I missed 5 days two years ago due to snow/ice, and 41 days last year because I broke my leg snowboarding. I keep track of my 'driving days' to work, and weather is no excuse (unless I use 4wd to get to work, I should have ridden). I always start to wonder during this time of year how cold it will get, and how long and dark the winter will seem. I also never forget the first day in the spring that the sun comes up during my bike ride to work. Glorious.
Who else has made this kind of commitment, and how cold will your winter probably get? I think the coldest I've done is low single digits...I don't think it's been below zero for me yet, but that's a definate possibility. I have done 4 or 5 degrees a couple of times.
Let the winter begin! Who's in this with me?
Today is the first rain of fall here in the Puget Sound lowlands. Right now I am dealing w/ mounting a headlght around a handlebar bag. Later hassle will be deciding when/if to bother w/ mounting studded tires for the black ice season between Thanksgiving and New Year's (went on for months last year, usually it's only a week or 2). I know cry me a river it's not quite Duluth (pretty much never gets down even to the teens F) but...
You guys have my deepest respect! I just started commuting around Phoenix....the cold days are in the 60's....and it doesn't really rain. Not sure if I could hold onto my dedication in other parts of the country. Our calendar is kinda flipped...riding thru the 110 degree days in the summer are the big challenge.
I'll be commuting by bike for the first time this winter. It was pretty cold this morning...almost frost cold. My toes were very cold all the way in (12.5 mi). Time to get some neoprene booties. I also need some full-finger gloves and a balaclava. The rest of me was okay. Rain shell and long sleeve poly shirt worked well enough and my Pearl Izumi AmFIB tights were awesome. Here in Oregon, we get a lot of rain so that's my primary concern. I'm not going to ride 25 miles on ice.
i have made it a goal to ride at least 4 out of the 5 days of the work week to work... it's 17 miles one way... so it's great for saving gas, staying in shape, and getting the message out to others that there are other ways of expending energy in a friendly, non-war for oil type manner... anyway, my question, and i'm sure this is not new... is how do i stay warm and dry on the bike through the rains here in oregon... i have rain gear now... but i still get some bleed through onto my pants and shorts... my upper body too also does not stay perfectly dry... and my gloves, which i've tried neoprene and others, once wet and with the wind.. are freezing... i just switched to gortex socks and they're a little better on my feet.. but my toes still get cold about 30 minutes into the ride...and pointers, words of wisdom?
Going on four years havn't missed a day....unless I go out of town, maybe 20 days in total.
It is faster to ride in then fight traffic on a cold snowy day..
Coldest -35 C without wind chill, had a 40 km/h wind in my face down the hill at 50 km/hr...
But really if your dressed right it isn't too bad.
The toughest part is fighting the car snot snow with deep ruts, gotta sit back and use your hips...
Originally Posted by fredfight
The right fenders make a huge difference. Also anything that you can afford with goretex (pants, jacket)...there's nothing better in terms of being waterproof and letting you breathe, so you're not a sweat fest underneath. I've been through several sets of gloves...my current ones have gore windstopper fabric...they are like softshell material...they do get wet in a nasty rain, but they still block the wind, so it's not cold like it would be. They are Manzella brand. I wear snowboarding shells over them when it's below about 20 degrees.
I wear a goretex jacket with a hood, and I wear the hood under my helmet. I have goretex pants, which work well, but still dump water onto your feet. I use neoprene socks...my shoes get soaked, but the feet stay dry, and they do a good job cutting the wind. I think they're warmer than the booties that go over the shoes.
Ah, I remember riding in that kind of stuff in Colorado. I'll still be commuting this winter, but in Vegas I guess that isn't such a big deal. I agree with bigdudecycling though. This summer was not much fun. I think the hottest I commuted in was 115. Ugh
Stay warm and dry out there guys!
I live in Wisconsin and don't use cars. I'm out there everyday. Luckily my class schedule this semester is such that I can sleep through the mornings. Class at 1pm everyday.
Here in Big D, it is doable. There's got to be some upside to all that heat in summer....
I've been commuting averaging 4-5 days a week since March of this year. Here in Marquette, on Lake Superior, it's not unusual to have winters of 200" to 300", possibly up to 400" of snow on a really heavy year.
I'll probably commute into December, but will probably not make it all winter. Our second kid is due at the end of the year, and shuttling a newborn and a 2 year old around in the chariot won't really work in deep snow..
I have to second the fenders though, they really make wet or snowy commutes 100% better. A few wet toes is a lot better than wet pants, wet shirt, etc. With the right layers, riding all winter isn't too bad. It sure is hard on drivetrain parts though, with all the wet/dry freeze thaw cycles.
You guys are getting me depressed. It's early fall!
Been commuting since winter of '01/'02, and only the too-slick road conditions get me off the bike. Usually, that costs me a month or so over the period of mid-Dec. to mid-Feb. Snow too deep, or icy surfaces, just don't get it for me. That's what buses are for.
Winter-weight tights under the work clothes, and the nylon rainsuit over them, at least the lowers -- all-weather jacket down to about +10F; layered coat below that. Poly winter socks, sometimes over my wicking Starter ankle-highs, keep the toes good. Ski mask and/or microfiber balaclava under the helmet.
Three years here in lower SW Michigan. Yeeuppp, fenders are a must. IMO, so is a winter beater bike if you do a lot of commuting. Something with midrange level components like Deore or Alivio. They're heavy but they're dependable and they work. Most important for me, replacement parts are just a lot cheaper.
I'll keep it up through the winter, though I'll have to get up earlier with the slightly slower commute times and the possibility of having to shovel the walk before I leave. My winter beater is my year-round commuter so I'm all set!
I expect to have dark commutes on the way to work and temps in the teens and twenties for the norm and 30s and 40s and twilight for the way home for the majority of winter.
The coldest I've commuted in was low single digits, my hands got pretty cold that day and I was screaming every once in a while to make them feel better (hey it made me feel better a least),
I have ridden in sub-zero weather, but it was also sunny, so it wasn't nearly as bad as my 5:30 a.m. single digit rides.
I've got a few new pieces of gear for this winter so I'm looking forward to trying them out when the cold comes.
admittedly a short commute....
only 30 minutes when dry, more when wet/slippery, so I'll be trying to ride as much as I can this year.
Helps to clear the noggin before I get to work too. :D
Down to -10 celsius is easy, past -20 gets really hard, more because of driver hurry (read: not paying attention and not expecting cyclists).
(between -10 and -20 is a toss-up depending on personal factors :p )
We'll be above -20 most of the time this year but quite frankly, when I see a windchill wanting of -47 degrees I just bundle up and suffer on public transport!
Tires seem way more damaged at the end of a season, between the temperature shifts, the salt damage, and getting to sit outside in the snow all day while I'm at work... sure it's not good for them. :D
EDIT: so shortly after reading through several of these "winter commuting" threads I got the urge to make myseld a nice mint tea with honey... which bring me to a question, I've jury-rigged a coffee cup holder on my bars, anyone else have good suggestions for warm fluid intake while riding?
I've heard that you can fill a camelback with hot coffee (or whatever) and there's an insulatable tube covering or something, anyone know how well it works below -20 celsius?
any home-brewed solutions?
while I won't be doing it this year, I may try it next year. Bought 2 gary fisher hkek mountain bikes and have slowly been moding them to make them useful for commuting. My issue this year is I'm about 20 miles from work (one way) and it's a lot of hills to contend with. In normal weather it's about an hour and a half. In the snow I'm sure it could be add an hour or so. I also work a late second shift which means my entire commute is in the dark...Something as simple as a light bulb burning out could make my commute even longer.
In the spring though, I'll be about 10 miles from work - closer if I can find a place with decent rent in town. Even in the dark, 10 miles isn't that bad...Under a half hour if I push myself.
I cycled to work this morning with a temp of 38 F. Dry and clear for a change.
It will start to snow soon and I can't wait!
Can't wait for winter!!!
I was just saying to one of my friends...I can't wait for the roads the get snowy. I live in Iowa and have been winter commuting for many winters now.
Two winters ago I put on my first studded tire...mounted it up front on my cyclocross bike with full fenders. This went well, slid around in the back abit, but I didn't like having gears...froze up a couple of times.
Last winter I road an old mountain bike frame fixed gear with an ENO hub. No snow tires, just regular mountain treads and full fenders again. Slipped around a bit, but really enjoyed fixed gear in the snow.
This year I'm building my dream commuter...Karate monkey, fixed gear, cascadia fenders, swapable wheelset with my other 29er, BB7's, big apples for the non-winter months, and nokian extreme 294's for snow and ice but with the ability to swap to regular mountain tread with the regular 29er wheelset if snow and ice melt away for a week or two.
I'll post photos when I've got it built, two weeks or so. Running tomicogs on my SS hubs. Probably run 36/17
I commute all winter as long as the roadways are halfway decent. I love it. The coldest I've ridden was -20 F. There's no bad weather, only bad clothing.
That will be a very sweet set-up. Please do post pics. :thumbsup:
Originally Posted by farmerfrederico
If there's one good thing about NOVA weather, I guess it's that we don't get either extreme. It rarely gets over 100 or below about 20. In Jan-Feb I do usually miss a couple days though because it just isn't safe to ride if the streets are icy -- more because of the drivers than the streets themselves.
Winter's a good ways off here in the DC area but this will be my third year commuting straight through the winter. I average 4 days a week, 22mi r/t, most of the year but have been closer to the 50% range the past 2 Jan/Feb's, due to the fact that our MUP's are crappily plowed and tend to thaw/re-freeze multiple times after each storm...just not worth it sometimes.
The key is layers. That, and envisioning myself stuck in car traffic on days I hesitate to hop on the bike.
This will be my second winter commuting by bicycle. Since I started in early December last year, I'm feeling pretty well prepared.
My daily routine has been honed over the past months and I might just be able to claim a cycle commuting century. That's a notion I just recently encountered on bikejournal.com, where over the course of a year you bike 100 days to work and back.
Right now I'm at 88 days, including today. February and March were not good months for me. But September has been the best ever with 19 out of a total of 21.