Fair Weather

It’s almost winter. The weather has been changing and there have been some pretty rainy days. While the weather’s gross and I have other transportation options, I still end up on my bike.

 

Fair Weather

 

I’ve been told I’m weird, but it’s all relative. Everybody’s bad weather commute has an element of the ridiculous.

And while I don’t really like being out in the elements it still makes the most sense to me. After all, rain is just water and a bike is just the quickest way through the mess. All weather is fair weather if you have a good raincoat.

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43 Comments on "Fair Weather"


James
November 21, 2012

I guess i am even weirder than you as i enjoy biking in the rain. even if im not wearing my rain proof clothing.

Matthew J
November 21, 2012

Depends on the temperature. 80 and rain what raincoat? 40 and rain no raincoat can lead to hypothermia.

tiago barufi
December 7, 2012

So I do, I love to ride in pouring rain, I ride slowly and feel really great. I don’t bother getting wet, but here the climate is mostly warm. If the latitudes was higher, things would differ.

Jon Webb
November 21, 2012

When I started riding in the winter in Pittsburgh years ago I discovered that it is, indeed, all about having the right clothes. It took a while to figure out the right choices — merino wool base layers, insulated tights, gloves, etc. But now I can ride all year and it makes very little difference whether it’s warm or cold, clear, raining, or snowing.

Quincyclist
November 21, 2012

This will be my 4th winter of cycle commuting in Boston. I need to psyche myself up but in the end I know I will. It’s all a matter of the clothing, as you and others point out. Incremental layering solves most of the problem, though hands are the weak spot in the bitter weather. I feel I need gloves not mittens for gripping but that means more surface area from which to lose heat. I also have rain attire except for boots; small black plastic bags are a waterproof if inelegant boot solution that serves me well (I keep several in my seat bag). As for snow and ice, I stay off the road until the streets are plowed but even then I’ve had to learn the hard way what black ice is.

dr2chase
November 21, 2012

They’re noisy, slow, and demoralizing (i.e., tremendous character builder), but if you’re worried about the black ice or want to be able to go when/where you want to, there’s studded tires.

November 21, 2012

I’ve always enjoyed biking in bad weather. In some ways, I prefer it to everyday cycling. It gives one a sense of accomplishment when you get where you’re going using a mode of transportation that 99% of people wouldn’t even contemplate using in such weather. It’s kind of a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. The real cyclists don’t reach for their car keys just because the weather’s bad.

November 21, 2012

Rain yes, as long as it doesn’t freeze for me, I get on the bike. Right now it’s snowing and I haven’t got studded tires.

November 22, 2012

How long have people been using studded bicycle tires? I used to cycle in snow quite a bit in England and Germany in the ’80s, but I never heard of them. Is it an American thing?

I’m not much into accessories, and I’ve never had many problems cycling in snow, so I haven’t looked into studded tires, but I keep hearing about them. I guess it would be nice to be able to cycle a bit faster in snow, but do they work?

dr2chase
November 22, 2012

Since the best studded tires come from Finland, I’m not sure it is an American thing, especially given the popularity of (automobile) ice-racing in Scandinavia (yes, I learned to drive in a Saab).

Their main advantage is on ice, not snow, and they don’t make you faster, except in the sense that not slipping and falling is faster. You get some extra grip in light snow, but as soon as it is too thick for the studs to reach through, they make no difference. If you’re only riding on roads that are competently plowed+sanded+salted, you probably don’t need them, but if you end up on roads that are merely plowed, or want to ride out to visit the ice-fishermen, or want to go out in the middle of a storm, they’re helpful. With a longer winter commute they are helpful because you never quite know what the afternoon will bring, or how sloppy the plowing was three towns over.

And ice really is pretty near frictionless; with studs, you can feel when you hit it, because the bike speeds up a little bit. You DO NOT get full traction from studs; (from memory) at about a 38-16 gearing on ice, the back end comes loose if I stomp on the pedals. You have to be much more careful when braking; if you’re not comfortable locking up your front wheel, it’s rear wheel only. For example (notice the paired scratches, from and rear): http://www.flickr.com/photos/dr2chase/6267972404/in/photostream/lightbox/

November 22, 2012

I must admit, although I’ve never used any studs or chains on my tires, and although I’ve done quite a bit of ice/snow riding, I’ve never fallen on snow or ice. Slipped, sure, but fallen, no. I think mostly that must have something to do with the speed I go on ice, which is very slow – so slow that I’m easily able to put a foot down to stop a fall. I seriously doubt that I have any special ice-cycling powers. I guess I must be a very conservative cyclist.

Since I don’t fall, is there any use to these for someone like me?

dr2chase
November 22, 2012

Your experience is completely backwards from mine — only time I fell on ice was going very slowly — but if you are happy without them, I would leave well enough alone. Even with the sometimes-icy bike trail, 95% of the time they are not necessary. Otherwise, they’re noisy, slow, and expensive, and you’re some hundreds of miles south of Boston, right?

November 22, 2012

I am now. But we still get snow and ice occasionally, and this year, I get the feeling that we’re in for a real winter.

dr2chase
November 23, 2012

@IBC – if you do intend to try them, I can give you some recommendations.

Don’t bother with chains unless you are only riding in thick snow. I followed instructions on the internet to make some ( http://www.cs.hmc.edu/~ben/chains/ ), and they worked as advertised, but the vibration on pavement was insane. I was afraid I might chip a tooth, never mind what it was (rapidly) doing to my hands.

Peter White’s got pretty good information at his site about studded tires, and his prices are good ( http://peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp ). I can add the following: http://dr2chase.wordpress.com/2009/12/12/snow-tire-review/

 
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