Do you bike commute all winter long?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Do you bike commute all winter long? (2 part question)

    Forgive me if this seems like a no brainer, but obviously it's not for me and I go back and forth everyday (on the selling part). So I'll ask for some different points of view.

    1. Do you commute by bike all winter long?

    If so tell me I can do it! Iíve just started commuting by bike regularly since May, and I am a bit nervous about winter (coldness, weather, roads). My husband did it all winter long. I think I drove him 2x when it was a blizzard. Otherwise I drove the Jeep. Good old 4wd Jeep. Our town does have a free bus system (with a bike rack on front of the bus), but it doesnít go right to my work, somewhat near it. In northern Utah we get alot of snow.

    2. If Iím going to commute, should I sell my car?

    With a new mortgage and the husband still in school for another 2 years, we could save money by not having the second car. HOWEVER (hereís my conundrum), the second car is rather cheap to own. Only $23 extra a month to insure, under $300/year to fill with gas, maybe 2 oil changes, $76 yearly registration, and any repairs. Itís been such a great car. In the 6 years Iíve owned it, I only put in a battery and a serpentine belt. So either itís just a good car, or now is the time that things should be wearing down and I should unload it soon.

    We donít need 2 cars. Iím sure if I sell it there will be times I wish I had it and will be kicking myself for selling it. But thereís always the Jeep, bike or bus. I just thought I'd drive the Saturn til it was dead.

    And if I sell it, I could put the funds towards a new bike, which I was hoping to get in 1-2 years. Bling bling!
    Last edited by Shannon-UT; 09-09-2004 at 08:00 AM.

  2. #2
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    Smile Similar...

    I similarly went through the same thing in February of this year.

    My wife and I had two cars, the second being extremely cheap to maintain and pay for ('95 Escort Wagon), but didn't have the need to have two cars in our driveway. We were saving up for our downpayment for a home, and I had been contemplating gathering the gumption to discipline myself for all year riding, in Chicago no less.

    We sold the car, which turned out to be a GREAT idea as the new owner of the car had it for about a month and the all original clutch in it finally died and had to be replaced entirely, it was unforeseeable for the most part, but I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that expense. I used the funds to buy myself a very nice hardtail MTB which I absolutely love and it has invigorated me into riding upwards 150 miles a week. This includes my daily commute to work of 16 miles roundtrip everyday. I have enjoyed commuting so much I just recently purchased a more suitable commuter (road bike) to also train for longer distances as my speed and endurance has increased nicely over this summer.

    I used to ride the 'Metra' in Chicago which is $2.05 one way to downtown, so $4.10 a day to ride the train to work, multiply by 5, $20.50 a week saved, or monthly $82.00 saved on transportation costs. That alone was nice to have!

    I have become such an avid 'cyclist' now that I have lost the last naggy 10 lbs, saved money, and inspired my wife to also commute to work on her brand new bike I bought her for her birthday. She now saves money (which collectively for us is now $170.00 a month), has gotten fit, and is enjoying watching her improvement slowly over time.

    This will be the first year that "I WILL" attempt to ride in all year even through the winter. I started buying some winter riding clothes, reading up on tires, mapping out my routes, and hopefully I'll brave the Chicago winter fine.

    I don't mean to sound all gleeful and putzy, but its a great change and I'd encourage you to go for it. The personal reward and the money saved is great and come spring time, I hope to be in a 'competitive shape' for the summer to actually do some great races and perhaps some loftier goals for next year.

    Best Regards.

  3. #3
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    I used to cycle to and from college/shopping/anything that wasn't within 10 mins walking distance... but I didn't have a car as a secondary option, so I may have been a bit lazier if I had! I found that a good set of waterproofs usually managed to get me where I was going reasonably dry, but I lived in the UK when I cycled everywhere, so it was pretty mild and wet most of the time. I'm not so sure I like the sound of riding in snow or a blizzard

  4. #4
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    Yup, I commute all winter long, even on those harsh days when it dips into the 60's.
    Cats just don't feel safe on a moving bicycle, no matter how much duct tape you use.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by catzilla
    Yup, I commute all winter long, even on those harsh days when it dips into the 60's.
    Sheesh that doesn't help me! It's in the 40s in the AM now!





    I'm going to get it inspected and registered next week. I think I may sell it. Yobldog that is motivation.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by catzilla
    Yup, I commute all winter long, even on those harsh days when it dips into the 60's.
    The 60s!!! Damn - that's cold. Coldest day here last winter was only -56....


    Wait a second.....

    Where's the minus sign on your post

  7. #7
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    I commute all winter long, except when it is actually snowing, the roads have not been cleared or they are covered in ice. However, where I live, snow is fairly rare--only a few storms a year. But when it does snow, the roads do not get cleared, often for days, and inevitably the snow turns to rain, then freezes, so everything is coated in about 2 inches of ice for a week or so. In addition, people CANNOT drive in snow, so one of my greatest concerns with the weather is the cars running me over, since they come way to close to doing then when the ground is completely clear. Anyway, as long as the roads are safe, I ride.

    I also mtb all winter as long as the trails are okay. So I have a whole winter wardrobe for this. A lot of it is left over from when I raced x-country skiing, but I have purchased a few things just for biking. Look at General Discussion, there are a few threads there about winter gear.

  8. #8
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    sorry for poaching the chick's forum, but...

    i think it is reasonable to commute through the winter except when it it snowy, or icy. i rode quite a bit in cold weather in germany, a couple times even in a vicious snowstorm, but now i'm old and lazy and soft.

    this will be my first full winter here in ely. last year we got quite a bit of snow. i would expect i'll be able to ride half the time or thereabouts.

    as far as the car, not sure of your financial situation, but that's awfully cheap for having a car. it's good to keep it for those days when it really sucks outside, or when your other car has to go to the shop or something. i'd wait and see how much you use the car this winter, and consider selling it at that point.

    mw
    mark weaver
    kuna, id

  9. #9
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    The Pro and Con of the Car. . .

    FIrst, I apologize if the presence of my "y" chromosome isn't cool here. I saw the commuting subject line and was drawn in. I'm quite the commuting ethusiast and don't feel like it's discussed enough in these forums so I had to see what was going on. . .

    It seems like several people have answered the question of whether or not you can commute all year. My two cents is that you can, and you'll probably enjoy it. I'm writing mostly to share my perspective on the car part of the question:

    Anyway, I ride to and from work most days. My wife and I have a single car, which is for all pracical purposes HER car. Most of the time that's fine. There have been mornings when the weather is foul when I have struggled to motivate myself to get on the bike. I would NEVER dream of waking her up (my day starts much earlier) to drive me to town, so I'm more or less forced to get on the bike. I've never had a morning where I ened up regretting riding once I got going. If I had access to a car I'd probably have driven it once in a while and never had the chance to know that I would have regeretted that decision. So, I guess that's the case for getting rid of the car. Commit. Go all the way. Bike Commute or Bust!

    BUT. . .

    about 3 times a year I find myself wanting to go somewhere for the weekend that my wife doesn't want to go, but it's too far away for me to go by bike in a single weekend. Then I wish we had another car. But somehow it doesn't seem like it's worth it to buy a car that would just sit there 350+ days/year. You've already got the car though, so you dont' have to shell out any dough-re-mi, and it's doesn't sound like you're having to spend much on it now. And it doesn't sound like it's a car that you'd get THAT much money out of anyhow.

    I guess if I were you I'd do one of two things: I'd either keep the car and shore up my willpower so that you didn't use it when you don't really need to, but you can use it when you do really need to. OR, I'd drive it down to Southeast Ohio and find a little brown house off of the side of a side road where there lives some guy who needs a car about 3 weekends a year and just drop the car, the keys, and the title off there and then count on him to shore up his willpower to not use it when he didn't really need to. . .

    Good luck and have fun whatever you decide.

  10. #10
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    Good job!

    I'm in Salt Lake and commute all winter except on major snow/ice days, or when I need to hit the gym before going to the office. That usally translates into about three days a week riding, starting in November or so (I trail ride in the AM's before work, prior to the first snowstorm).

    I don't like to wear much "goofy stuff", so for warmth I layer with quality wicking base layers and them just wear skater pants (actually, they're old Nema skater-style pants, but with button-able cuffs made for riding) and a plain wind shell. Headsweats makes several different weight skullcaps that fit great under a helmet, and I wear a brain bucket-style lid with fewer vents than an XC lid to keep the mellon warm. Also key are some windstopper socks. I wear Vans on flats, but my feet will still get cold without the windstoppers. Oddly enough, last year I didn't need to wear polypro gloves under my normal riding gloves, though I'll do so in really cold temps. A balaclava is great on super cold mornings. Glasses are a must; cold air rushing into your eyes and then staring at a computer all day don't mix well. I've ridden in temps near zero F and it wasn't too bad...

    For bike setup, thinner oil in the fork (Marz), and slick tires are the ticket. Since I also use my commuter bike (Planet X Compo) to hit the U for some "urban", I run Maxxis Hookworm 2.5's(DH casing) front and rear. I've never flatted with them after hundreds of curb hits, loading dock drops, and riding through fields of infamous Salt Lake City goathead thorns. They are a bit porky, but no worse than a standard DH tire, and they roll and grip REALLY well. And not having to take my gloves off to change a flat is worth its weight in sticky rubber gold.

    ...Oh, and don't forget some kind of front and rear lights...

    That said, I wouldn't sell the car, especially without conveniently located mass transit. There's some mornings you just can't safely ride (not that riding the mean streets of SLC is ever really safe!). I usually stick to roads with bike lanes as much as possible, always make eye contact with drivers busy putting on make-up and talking on the cell, and just be hyper-aware that I'll lose if I tangle with a Hummer (or even something a lot smaller)....unless I get in the first shot.

    Oh, and commuting will make you VERY good at trackstands. Besides, it's fun, a great way to keep in riding form all year, and it beats standing on a treadmill or stair climber for hours.

    ...Sorry, this post ended up being more verbose than I intended...

    Good luck! Cheers.....

  11. #11
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    A commuting link would be nice here. www.bikeforums.net has one, plus a winter biking topic too.



    Even if I could commute 3x a week, and if I have to (like to run errands after work) drive the Jeep, that would be good too. There would be a vehicle left, if I do sell the Saturn. Actually I don't even drive the Saturn on snowy icy days. It's worthless, then I take the Jeep.

    Maybe I should mention how close my work is.... 2.5 miles. I know, I know, I should probably be walking it. It's really the nicest commute. 3 stop sign total, residential road, hardly a hill. I probably wouldn't even all that gear, just some basics. I wear Rx glasses, so not sure what to do there. Plus we have those morning canyon winds rushing into the valley in the morning. I work about .5 from the mouth of the canyon too.

    My husband must have a built in furnace. He sleeps with the window open and fan on all winter long. He rode up to school in -5 degrees when we had that inversion in January. Just regular pants, a t shirt, a windstopper jacket, and neck gaiter. I kind of admire that.

  12. #12

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    Safety?

    I'm thinking about commuting to work, but my route would take me thru some pretty crusty parts of Detroit. I drive thru this area normally, and I think it would be ok but DH is not in favor. Am I too unconcerned about safety?? Anyone have similar experience? Thanks!

  13. #13
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    You have to be careful of glare ice even if you are walking. Other than that ride. I suggest lowering your seat below the normal height so you can have your feet on the ground in an instant.

  14. #14
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    if you are only 2.5 miles away I would definitely sell the car, that will be so quick to cycle and if it's really snowy and you can't cycle you could walk it in about 40 mins. If you have the car there you will just take it out of laziness unless you have really strong willpower

  15. #15
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    i commute all year long along an 8 mile stretch of city road and farm roads. i live in Germany where there's black ice and i slap on schwalbe ice spiker tires on an extra mtb just for the winter. traction is great on them. because of the spikes, you can't use them all the time. hence the reason they are on a spare bike. schwalbe also makes the winter marathon and ice spiker pro for different variations of snow/ice. i've thought of getting some schwalbe winter marathon tires (which has less spikes and work for a combination clear roads and roads covered in ice) for my regular commuting bike but i'm still on the fence about it. the winter tires do not work when there's over a foot of snow. i'll have to invest in a snow bike for that.

    i say go for it. i save a ton on gas especially when gas is almost $10/gal around here. and i get in the mileage during the work week.

  16. #16
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    Hey - I live in the Yukon and I commute year round. The coldest I've ridden is in -36 C, and I'll admit that was a bit too chilly even for me. In the winter, I'm regularly riding in and around the -30s.

    I find that all that I really need is: super awesome mittens (snowmobile style works best), snowpants, a good jacket, a too big helmet (so I can fit my hat underneath) and I ride with a re-breather because my lungs are bad.

    We have 1 car, but neither of us drives to work, so it lives at home during the day. That saves us money on gas and maintenance.

  17. #17
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    Aloha,

    I commute year round. I know, I know, people will say the weather is nice here. Maybe not as cold as other parts of the world but it does get dark early (and early in the morning when I leave for work) and it does get chilly and VERY wet.

    What I've found is to make it work (for me), I needed it to not be a chore. Meaning I had to answer and solve questions like:

    1. How do I keep my lights bright and working?
    2. How do I keep my feet dry? I hate having to have squishy shoes/feet all day long or for riding (and working).
    3. How do I guarantee a warm, dry set of clothes at work?

    1. I use multiple lights with AA batteries (rechargeable) so I always have back up batteries and power if needed. This way, I don't have to remember to have my lights charged all the time.
    2. I got myself some neoprene shoe covers, these things work GREAT!! No matter how hard it is raining, my feet stay dry.
    3. I pack my work clothes in my pack (a dedicated pack that I bring to work every day whether I commute or not). This pack has its own rain fly so everything inside stays dry. I also keep a back up set (just in case) of work clothes in my office.

    In my pack, I keep my spare tube, stuff to change out a flat as well as my lock and cable (just in case I need to stop somewhere) and my rain jacket. Like I said, everything is included so it's not an exception to commute, it has become the norm and convenient. I also keep a couple extra tubes at work (just in case).

    Oh, by the way, I must add that my lights are easy to mount and dismount (with velcro), I've put fenders etc. on the bike. All of this is in the interest of making it convenient for commuting. Otherwise, I feel like it'd be too easy for me to whimp out...........I haven't in many, many months now.

    Hope this information helps out.

    Aloha,
    g

  18. #18
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    I have ridden in VT winters the last 2 years & really enjoy it. Funny, people here are willing to sit on a ski chairlift in howling winds and cold but think you are crazy to ride a bike, which actually keeps you much warmer. I do 15 mi round trip.

    Must haves: studded tires, good front/rear lights, a good windproof hat that fits under your helmet, and some way to keep your hands/feet warm, layers for upper/lower body. A softshell jacket works well. Especially if you are not that well outfitted yet, the handwarmer/footwarmer packets can be a hand/footsaver in cold temps.

    If you start in the fall, it is easier to adjust to the dropping temps and adjust clothing accordingly, without overdoing it, sweating, and then freezing.

    Take it easy on snow/ice, I find the mealy trafficked snow to be the worst - fresh stuff, or lightly travelled stuff has better traction. Deep snow eats up a lot of energy, let the plow go by once if you can.

    The commuter forum on mtbr has good advice, people, & stories, see the "long cold winter support thread" and related info.

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