4 month car free update- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    4 month car free update

    This year I thought I'd do my bit for the environment and do as the title says. Early spring I bought a hardtail to commute with and code a few times a week to work. Gradually I cycled for everything from going to work to going out for a pint or 2. Then in July thought long and hard and a little voice said "you can do it." Then one weekend in I put my car up for sale and sold it in a few days and put the money in the bank.

    I as a new commuter advise is buy a good bike from an LBS as they will be a valuable resource in many ways. Also have the money to buy safety gear like lights and helmet, as well as clothing for all conditions you have to ride in. A rear rack at the least with panniers. Make sure to carry the basics to fix a flat or repair a chain.

    Now for the update. My commute is 12miles round trip, I take it relatively easy as I do not want to make it like a work out. Monthly I am almost riding 400 miles. I try to enjoy the silence and the view. With 4 panniers and a backpack I can carry a lot of stuff, sometimes I can't pick up my bike.For 2250miles my expenses on my bike are $40 on a rear tire, $60 XTR chain, $4 shifter cable, $8 innertube and $30 on lube.

    My only negative so far was a confrontation with a mean looking dog. Thankfully it wasn't able to keep up 20+mph for long distances.

  2. #2
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    What is your location? Congrats on going two wheels only. I wish that I could do it.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  3. #3
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    I don't like to give out my location, other than its Canada. But where I live it the temps are in the 30's in summer and -30's in winter

  4. #4
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    What do you plan on doing to get around on those -30 days? That is in Celsius correct? The reason I ask about location, which it is OK that you were not specific is because if you were in the souther US or even the middle, the weather is perfect for giving up a car. I plan on riding as much into the winter as I can here in Michigan, but there are going to be days and probably weeks where that just won't be possible given the temperature and snow accumulation + the wind chill.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  5. #5
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    Aloha Snail,

    Congrats!! Great job! I've been commuting for several years now. I started with a classic, vintage, retro mountain bike converted with fenders, lights etc. The last two years I've been using a Trek Transport (54lb). Love it! I've found that making the situation convenient helps. That means my pack that I take to work each and every day has my rain/cold gear in it. Also my bike always has the spare tube, pump etc. I added tire liners to the bike to reduce (it has eliminated) flats.

    And yes, I agree, no matter what the day was like, hopping on the bike always brings a smile. No matter how tired I am after working at 4200 meters all day long, the short 30 minute ride home is always good for the mind.

    I still have my truck to take me to the weekend mountain bike rides and emergencies when I need to get to another part of the island many miles away............

  6. #6
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    It's not even November yet here in MN and I'm already having a tough time commuting. As I write this an am getting ready to head out for work, it's 13 degrees. It's tough to get on a bike and ride 6 miles when it's 13 degrees. What do you all do to keep warm? I layer like a mad man, but I can't seem to keep my lungs and face warm. Do you wear goggles?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    What do you plan on doing to get around on those -30 days? That is in Celsius correct?
    I've mentioned this before, but riding at -30C honestly isn't that bad if you've got the right layers. The one thing I've found though, is that it makes multi-stop trips challenging.

    On the ride to your first stop you get a little warm and sweaty, and go in and do a little shopping. 10 minutes later you head back out into the cold, and your baselayer is still a little damp, which renders it completely and utterly useless.

    I have no problem keeping my fingers toasty at -30C. But lets say it's only -25C(-15F) so I make a quick stop at the LBS - that's a great recipe for frozen fingers and toes on the rest of way home.

  8. #8
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    Congrats snail space. I am glad that you are making things work out.


    Cassavant,

    I start using googles around 10F but take them off part way unless it is single digits or below. Do you wear glasses? If not maybe try some safety or sun glasses to help deflect the wind. I find my face feels really cold when I start and my eyes will tear up but after a few minutes I am fine. I do have a neck gaiter that I really like. I can adjust how much coverage I want. Get something lightweight you can breathe through. I have a smartwool one.

  9. #9
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    I've mentioned this before, but riding at -30C honestly isn't that bad if you've got the right layers. The one thing I've found though, is that it makes multi-stop trips challenging.

    On the ride to your first stop you get a little warm and sweaty, and go in and do a little shopping. 10 minutes later you head back out into the cold, and your baselayer is still a little damp, which renders it completely and utterly useless.

    I have no problem keeping my fingers toasty at -30C. But lets say it's only -25C(-15F) so I make a quick stop at the LBS - that's a great recipe for frozen fingers and toes on the rest of way home.
    What are you using to keep your fingers toasty? Hands and feet are my biggest problem. The rest I can deal with using layers.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  10. #10
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    Goggles and a wool scarf are perfect for keeping the face warm in cold temps. When it get's below 20F, I make sure there is no skin exposed. I can't say enough about wool and silk. A silk or thin wool baselayer, wool mid-layer and windproof/waterproof outer layer. As for keeping hands warm on longer rides, get two of the same gloves, wear one and put the other between the base layer and mid-layer: switch gloves when hands get cold.

    Here's my cold (sub-15F) get-up (from inner to outer layer):

    Feet: Wool, over the calf socks (Darn Tough are the best, lifetime warranty), shoes (I ride clipped in) with XL wool socks pulled over and holes cut for the cleat and tread (army surplus stores are gold mines for this stuff; a little time with a felting needle will keep the over sock from unraveling at the cuts), and neoprene toe covers.

    Legs: Wool knicker leggings (cheap options can be found in the women's legging section, even in wool), winter riding bibs with a windproof front, 3/4 wool pants (again from the army surplus, treated with waterproofing).

    Torso: Silk and/or thin wool base, wool mid layers (one thin, one heavy sweater-army surplus!!! get the trend?), for dry days a wool outer coat, when wet either an anorak or a wind/waterproof outer shell.

    Head/face: Thin wool beanie, goggles, wool scarf wrapped around the head (after the helmet is on) and tucked into outer layer, helmet (if that's your thing). No skin showing!

    Hands: windproof wool or fleece glove liners (2 pairs, keep one between the base and mid-layer, switch when needed) Waterproof/windproof outer shell, I prefer lobster gloves or trigger gloves (find them at the, guess it... army surplus!).

    Another couple of tricks: I put all this on about 20-30 minutes before I leave, minus the head stuff, and make sure to leave right before I get too hot and start sweating. Using natural fibers against your skin will help alleviate sweat build up and condensation. Also, get an over coat with good ventilation (pit-zips, front vents) They're invaluable in regulating temps without stopping and removing layers.

    There are many cheap options for gear, but IME cheap stuff is that, cheap. So spend a little extra on the outer layers and find the cheaper options for base/mids. Seriously, amy surplus is a gold mine for winter commuters on a budget.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    What are you using to keep your fingers toasty? Hands and feet are my biggest problem. The rest I can deal with using layers.
    One trick is to buy everything XL or XXL. And beyond that it's just layers.

    For gloves I've got some fancy gortex ones that I got on sale. They have an outer shell with an inner liner, and when it's below -25C/-15F I cram in an extra wool baselayer. But I think that 3 layers of any glove would work (assuming the insulation isn't too compressed, and that one of those layers has some wind resistance)

    My shoe setup is pretty ghetto. I have some cheap lowtop hiking boots (size 13 I think, when I normally wear 11), and I lined the inside with ducttape to close the vents. I use a thermal/reflective insole. And then 2 or 3 layers of socks. Last year I bought some thin neoprene booties as a midlayer, but they're not as amazing as I'd hoped. If it's below -25C/-15F, my feet will get cold after an hour, and after an hour-and-a-half I have to be home. So my setup has flaws.

    Oh and I totally forgot that I use old wool socks as forearm & shin warmers, which are hugely important to keeping the hands and feet warm.

  12. #12
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    ^^ Tenspeed, I strongly recommend pogies and flat pedals for warm hands and feet in cold weather. Good pogies are a little pricey, but cheaper than buying 3 pairs of gloves that don't work. With flat pedals you can opt for any winter boot, I find a smoother sole (not super-lugged) grips best, along with avoiding the more flexible models (like some Sorels).

  13. #13
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    Well as long as my bike doesn't fail me mechanically I am geared up pretty good. I have pogies/bar mitts to use in combinations with lobster mitts and gloves. Winter helmet, balaclavas, goggles scarf for my face. Wool socks, winter hikers and neoprene shoe covers. For my body I will use a variety of base layers, fleeces and shell from under armour and North Face. Reflective bands for visibility

    My bike gets a set of Scwabe IceSoiker Pros 650B's with 378 studs/tire for a total of 756 studs. 2 Sets of blinkers on rear and 3 sets of lights lights upfront.

    My hybrid gets the same treatment with narrower tires with 240studs/tire.

    Am I missing anything? We all tolerate cold differently so dressing up/down will be different for all of us.

  14. #14
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    ^ sounds good. Be careful not to overlayer. You'll figure it out, but I find that I don't need much on my core until it's below about -15c.

  15. #15
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    Pogies are a major considerations for me because they will work well with my bar. I will go flats on the fat bike with some waterproof and hopefully windproof boots of some sort. I used to have this really ugly boot that I used for snow blowing and shoveling, and my feet stayed dry and fairly warm in them even in the deep snow. I would imagine that they would work well for winter biking. Will have to try to find another pair.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  16. #16
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    Anyone with new goggles or a new helmet you plan to wear with them, my advice would be to try them out before it is dangerously cold to check for fogging, comfort, etc. You don't want to have to take them off in frostbite conditions. I prefer moto style clear glasses with foam eyecups that keep the cold wind out, until it is so cold you can't have any skin exposed.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all the insight guys. I'm going to invest in a neck gaiter today. I do wear glasses, and part of the issue (in any weather) is the dreaded wind coming in the sides of the glasses and tearing me up. When it's cold, the tears...well....you get the idea. I'll check out some goggles today too.

  18. #18
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Any brands or specific styles or places to check out goggles?
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  19. #19
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    4 month car free update-005.jpg

    Getting ready to continue my journey.

  20. #20
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    Congratulations on 4 months car free, and thanks for the reduced carbon emissions- you may have offset my wife's truck.

    I am also new to cycle commuting this year, but I have worked outdoors all my life. Some of my work gear is less effective for cycling than it is for framing/ farming. But, I have had great luck so far with NEOS overshoes over lighter hiking or work boots for logging and for plowing snow with an open cab skid steer or tractor. I have the lightweight packable version, not the heavy duty- postal carrier style, and have tried them a few times in rain, with an ankle band, on my platform pedals. Might be something to consider as you can wear supportive shoes for work or play underneath and play the layering game as weather changes.

    Best of luck.

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