Author Topic: Winter biking  (Read 6107 times)

mountain mustache

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #50 on: February 12, 2019, 09:03:19 PM »
I live in a tiny mountain town, and live 1 mile from work, and it is ridiculous how often this Winter I've had to drive because of icy road/sidewalk/path conditions. Normally if I don't ride, I walk, because...1 mile...of course, why wouldn't I? But we've had an especially snowy, gross winter, and apparently the city is incapable of clearing the streets. Shoveling rules are also not enforced in front of businesses/residences, so sidewalks accumulate 4-5 inch thick ice sheets leading to the streets, which are ice sheets themselves. It's hilarious, because when I lived in a bigger city, I biked to work all Winter long 10 miles each way, because the streets were so well cleared! Here, I find myself driving the 1 mile because it isn't worth it to tear an ACL trying to navigate the ice slick sidewalks/streets. 

princeradar

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #51 on: February 12, 2019, 09:07:18 PM »
This is a great thread, very informative and inspiring.

I live in Toronto and my office is moving to downtown so I'll now be about 10km from work so I no longer have the distance to work is too great excuse.  Now laziness and the following excuses need to go:

1.  Current bike is too nice to ride in the winter with the salt.  I know myself I just can't do it.  I'll have to get a beater bike for the winter.  Any recommendations on the type of bike?  I'd assume those skinny roadbike tires are terrible in the winter, should I go for the fat bike tires, but they do look a bit ridiculous.

2.  Just curious if anyone is using an e-bike in the winter too.  Again the worries about the salt probably would stop me from doing this but I do see advantages of having one for the commute.

3.  What safety options are you using.

4.  Any feedback on your health since you started doing this?

Le Poisson

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2019, 05:39:04 AM »
This is a great thread, very informative and inspiring.

I live in Toronto and my office is moving to downtown so I'll now be about 10km from work so I no longer have the distance to work is too great excuse.  Now laziness and the following excuses need to go:

1.  Current bike is too nice to ride in the winter with the salt.  I know myself I just can't do it.  I'll have to get a beater bike for the winter.  Any recommendations on the type of bike?  I'd assume those skinny roadbike tires are terrible in the winter, should I go for the fat bike tires, but they do look a bit ridiculous.

2.  Just curious if anyone is using an e-bike in the winter too.  Again the worries about the salt probably would stop me from doing this but I do see advantages of having one for the commute.

3.  What safety options are you using.

4.  Any feedback on your health since you started doing this?

I'm only 3 km from work - my previous job was 6 km - so my distances are shorter, but...

1. If you take the beater route, have no fucks to give. Any cheap mtn bike will do. The lower gears will help overcome resistance of snow and slush on the route.

2. Fatbikes float, skinny tires sink. Really different applications. If you go through parks and need to go over deep snow lightly, then a fat bike with an aggressive tread may be better for you. If you are urban and need a tire that will slice through heavy slush to bite into the pavement below, then you want a narrow tire. It seems like there is no middle ground here. I lke studs, but that opens up another whole discussion.

3. Safety options - I am in the clown on a christmas tree camp - wear the brightest colours you can find and light teh bike up as much as you can. I wear a construction jacket (blaze orange with wide reflective bands) and have 3 tail lights*. I also have a couple side marker lights on my forks and a 650 lux headlamp. remember that drivers are out there without wiper fluid, who haven't scraped their windshield, and who are trying to see through a smear of road grunge. Those folks aren't looking for you at all. You have to make yourself a spectacle or they'll drive right over you without even knowing you were there.

*The three tail lights are a redundancy system. I have 2 on all the time and a third as a reserve. If one of them runs out of battery before I reach work, the other will still be going. Then I can turn on the third one for the trip home and still have 2 functional lights for that trip - in case one of them goes out. Dark comes early in the winter, and I never want to be without a tail light.

katscratch

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #53 on: February 13, 2019, 07:01:42 AM »
I rode a middle option my first year winter commuting :) Borrowed my son's single speed mountain bike with 2" tires, studded. Faster than a fat bike for sure, easier to maneuver than my normal commuter. For my area studded tires are mandatory for me - too much ice from now until April for me to ride confidently without.

Last year I rode my normal bike, a Surly Straggler w studded tires and it did great. No rust, chain/cogs were easy to keep clean. I keep my bike in the house though so that makes a big difference.

This year I am riding an Xtracycle with a Bosch middrive assist. The tires are 2.15" and the longer wheel base means it's very stable on slippy surfaces (the rear wheel does slide every now and then but no mashed potato snow shimmy like I've experienced with my other rides). No issues with battery life - yes it depletes faster in extreme cold but I can charge it at work/the gym. My full commute is 10 miles but right now I'm multi modal since our roads are terrible after back to back snowstorms.

My health is actually affected negatively by winter biking -- I have severe asthma and another chronic condition that make winter very difficult on my body. The e-assist lets me continue biking when I'd normally have to stop because of asthma symptoms. I am confident enough in my transportation options I gave my car to my son.

If I know I'll have to ride in traffic - like now with city crews still trying to catch up on plowing - I wear a yellow reflective vest. I have super bright lights and add a blinky light for traffic riding. I don't always wear the vest on my typical bike lane route where I'm often separated from car traffic - I find I get a lot more questions about biking being dangerous when I wear it (I always wear it while walking the dog though!). My bike is gigantic and bright blue, with reflective stuff everywhere on the bags, so I get way more clearance from vehicles, and lots and lots of questions at stop lights.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2019, 07:03:56 AM by katscratch »

BobbyTables

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2019, 07:05:15 AM »
This is a great thread, very informative and inspiring.

I live in Toronto and my office is moving to downtown so I'll now be about 10km from work so I no longer have the distance to work is too great excuse.  Now laziness and the following excuses need to go:

1.  Current bike is too nice to ride in the winter with the salt.  I know myself I just can't do it.  I'll have to get a beater bike for the winter.  Any recommendations on the type of bike?  I'd assume those skinny roadbike tires are terrible in the winter, should I go for the fat bike tires, but they do look a bit ridiculous.

2.  Just curious if anyone is using an e-bike in the winter too.  Again the worries about the salt probably would stop me from doing this but I do see advantages of having one for the commute.

3.  What safety options are you using.

4.  Any feedback on your health since you started doing this?


Toronto area as well, past few weeks have been rough. I've been driving/taking transit about half the time. The cold is no problem but I have to ride on some busy roads so any ice makes it too sketchy for me.

1. I'd go for an old hybrid or mountain bike, definitely something without suspension. If your route doesn't contain many hills maybe even go single speed, just less stuff to maintain. Make sure it fits 35mm or wider tires and fits full coverage fenders otherwise you'll be covered in sludge by the time you get to work. 10km is really doable but make sure the fit is ok otherwise you might be miserable. Personally I ride a not so cheap but not so expensive hybrid, I don't have space for a separate beater. Salt eats the chain but that is pretty cheap to replace. I wouldn't go fatbike here, the streets are mostly plowed, unless you're doing part off road.

2. Wouldn't know

3. Lights, helmet and common sense

4. No reference here, been biking to school/work ever since I was 4 years old. Although up until a year ago this was in the Netherlands, now in Toronto suburbs so maybe my mental health has suffered :) .

GuitarStv

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #55 on: February 13, 2019, 08:28:02 AM »
1.  Current bike is too nice to ride in the winter with the salt.  I know myself I just can't do it.  I'll have to get a beater bike for the winter.  Any recommendations on the type of bike?  I'd assume those skinny roadbike tires are terrible in the winter, should I go for the fat bike tires, but they do look a bit ridiculous.

I use a Giant escape hybrid that I bought used.  After four years of winter commuting the front and rear derailleur were shot, and the wheels started breaking spokes.  I prefer to ride on drop bars, so I swapped them on the bike (along with some bar end shifters) when I replaced everything.  (One thing to be aware of is that you need to choose components that you can comfortably work with a heavy glove on, bar ends are great for this.)  It has V-brakes, which are OK most of the time (but could be better in really slippery/icy/slushy conditions)

Most any bike will work OK for 10 km though.  Since it's so wet and shitty in the winter, I'd prefer to have a disk brake bike that will take at least 32 mm tires in the frame.  Make sure it has mounts for fenders (fenders keep your bike cleaner, which means less salt damage).  Stay on top of oiling your chain to prevent rust and premature wear, replace your cables/housings every year (two at the most) and every fall before winter comes, take the whole bike apart and grease everything with some marine bearing (or other waterproof) grease.

I use 32mm flat proof tires with a little bit of tread on them in the winter (Contentental Tour Ride), and regular 28mm road tires in the spring/summer/fall (Continental Ultra Sport II).  You don't need fat bike tires, or even mountain bike tires if you ride on the road.  It's really only a little bit of January and most of February where we get significant snow in Toronto.



2.  Just curious if anyone is using an e-bike in the winter too.  Again the worries about the salt probably would stop me from doing this but I do see advantages of having one for the commute.

I'd be leery of running an e-bike in the winter simply beacuse they're expensive and the salt will eat everything on your winter bike eventually.



3.  What safety options are you using.
- Reflective tape on bike / helmet
- Lights (lots of lights) especially through the winter where it's dark and visibility is often poor.  I run a front and rear light in the summer.  I run five rear lights (two on the bike, two on the backpack, one on the helmet) and two front lights in the winter.
- Fluorescent jacket with reflective patches
- Ride on the road, not the sidewalk.  Take the lane when you need to, ride predictably, don't blow lights/stop signs, signal your intent.



4.  Any feedback on your health since you started doing this?

Health is great.  I feel happier all day at work when I ride in, and sleep much better at night.  Regular commuting over the winter has helped prepare me for longer bike rides (did a couple 160km rides last summer, and weekly 100+km rides on the weekends).

wbarnett

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #56 on: February 13, 2019, 09:02:33 AM »
This is a great thread, very informative and inspiring.

I live in Toronto and my office is moving to downtown so I'll now be about 10km from work so I no longer have the distance to work is too great excuse.  Now laziness and the following excuses need to go:

1.  Current bike is too nice to ride in the winter with the salt.  I know myself I just can't do it.  I'll have to get a beater bike for the winter.  Any recommendations on the type of bike?  I'd assume those skinny roadbike tires are terrible in the winter, should I go for the fat bike tires, but they do look a bit ridiculous.

2.  Just curious if anyone is using an e-bike in the winter too.  Again the worries about the salt probably would stop me from doing this but I do see advantages of having one for the commute.

3.  What safety options are you using.

4.  Any feedback on your health since you started doing this?

1. Definitely get a commuting-specific bike with fenders (i.e., not a high end road bike). For under $500, there are a lot of options. I converted a 80s steel touring bike from a garage sale into a single speed and used it for a decade. Now I ride a hybrid from REI - MTB geometry, flat bars, fender mounts, clearance for 45c tires. In the summer, I ride a 25c slick and in the winter I ride a 35c knobby. Unless Toronto gets a ton of snow, a fat bike is probably overkill. I biked year-round in Montana with studded 2.2" MTB tires - it was great.

2. No experience with e-bikes. I kind of hate them, but not as much as the scooter craze.

3. Lots of lights, which people mentioned. I know a guy who has 3 front lights, one rear, and a blinky thing on his panniers. You definitely want to be seen.

4. I bike at least 10 mi total each day, and it's a blast. I estimate that the riding-to-running ratio is about 5:1 or 6:1, so biking 20k each day might be similar to running 3-4 km / day, which certainly isn't bad for you.

Brother Esau

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #57 on: February 14, 2019, 08:51:06 AM »
Another fun ride!

svosavvy

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #58 on: February 22, 2019, 03:17:06 PM »
One year anniversary commuting to work on my IZIP (Raleigh) E3 Dash in Western NY. 

Le Poisson

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #59 on: February 22, 2019, 03:30:53 PM »
Nice job! @svosavvy - How many days a week are you riding?

svosavvy

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #60 on: February 22, 2019, 03:40:36 PM »
Everyday!  Adamant to prove to wife we can sell our 2nd car.  Car sits in garage.  This is a touchy subject around our household.  We are constantly bombarded with "winter storm warnings."  This usually brings on the plea of "just take the car to work"  my reply "nope"

svosavvy

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #61 on: February 22, 2019, 03:46:49 PM »
5 days a week.  I work sat/sun for the "privilege" of mon/tues off. Haha can anybody say slave.

Brother Esau

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #62 on: February 22, 2019, 04:49:13 PM »
nICE ride  #studlife

princeradar

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #63 on: February 23, 2019, 07:50:06 PM »
Everyday!  Adamant to prove to wife we can sell our 2nd car.  Car sits in garage.  This is a touchy subject around our household.  We are constantly bombarded with "winter storm warnings."  This usually brings on the plea of "just take the car to work"  my reply "nope"

This is great, how has your fitness or health improved since you started this, or were you pretty healthy before you started biking to work?

svosavvy

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #64 on: February 24, 2019, 04:06:55 AM »
I am middle of the road health wise which is where I am happy.  I think the bike just helps me negate some of my bad dietary habits which I thoroughly enjoy (alcohol, sweet things made out of peanut butter).

HenryDavid

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #65 on: February 24, 2019, 11:12:36 AM »
Big congrats to everyone who is getting started, or continuing, with year round biking. To work or wherever. Itís gonna make such a difference!
Now that Iím retired, people often say 2 things:
Oh, youíre so LUCKY, you could retire in your 50s.
Oh, youíre so LUCKY, youíre so thin and fit in your 50s.
People, it ainít luck. Itís real easy: do not pay car and parking costs for 25 years. Save all that cash.
Do not sit on your ass in a metal box for hours each day. Use that time to pedal in the fresh air and sunshine. Or rain. Or snow. Enjoy that time like a little kid with a new bike.
Then you too will be SO LUCKY. You make that luck one ride at a time.
Keep up the good work, everyone.

svosavvy

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #66 on: February 24, 2019, 03:31:27 PM »
I am probably about 20 pounds overweight on a 6'4" male frame so I feel like I look ok.  This is actually where I like to be.  Not a total fat ass but can mostly enjoy some guilty pleasures as long as I don't go overboard.  I played HS football at a school that took that really seriously in the 90's.  I lived in the gym then and had a weightlifter physique.  Now I would not be caught dead at a gym.  I prescribe to the idea of "purposeful movement" (you heard it here first folks just kidding)aka "muscle over motor."  My idea is that one can use their physical body to create wealth, better their environ or surroundings, and be the better for it.  I have a 30 acre ranch I live on with 22 acres mature hardwood lot/forest.  I love chopping wood by hand and we use wood for 100% of our heat in western NY.  I had a wood splitter and found that it made the work too easy and me too fat.  This allowed me to take a deep dive into axe lore.  Very esoteric but satisfying.  Some of my best memories were of chopping wood with my grandfather who passed and riding my bike everywhere as a child.  Chopping wood and riding bikes makes me sane when my life consists of being a nurse at a job with nonstop mandation and my 12 year old twins which I love, but, sometimes I need a break. 

BobbyTables

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #67 on: February 27, 2019, 06:22:50 AM »
The only real bike lane we have which is next to a big arterial road has been covered in snow/ice since December, so I'm taking this 50km/hr 4 lane road which is plowed regularly.

But man, the amount of hate I get there is unreal. Even tough there are two lanes each way so I'm not holding anybody up I get yelled at to get on the sidewalk or gtfo the road. This road even has signs every few 100m that says 'bicycle route', which is completely useless I guess.

Hopefully spring is here soon so I can take the bike lane and parks + sideroads again, this is stressing me out sometimes.

GuitarStv

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #68 on: February 27, 2019, 07:13:00 AM »
The only real bike lane we have which is next to a big arterial road has been covered in snow/ice since December, so I'm taking this 50km/hr 4 lane road which is plowed regularly.

But man, the amount of hate I get there is unreal. Even tough there are two lanes each way so I'm not holding anybody up I get yelled at to get on the sidewalk or gtfo the road. This road even has signs every few 100m that says 'bicycle route', which is completely useless I guess.

Hopefully spring is here soon so I can take the bike lane and parks + sideroads again, this is stressing me out sometimes.

This is, unfortunately, kinda common.  Most Canadian cities plow snow into bike lanes during the winter (Toronto certainly does) making them unusable.  I've found that the majority of drivers treat cyclists alright, but if you're on a busy road for 40 minutes you're going to have probably 500 cars passing you.  Even if only one percent is an ass, that's still 5 people being a dick.

You kinda get used to the honking and stuff yelled at you.  I just try to focus on cycling safely, not blocking traffic more than is necessary, and remaining polite.

Le Poisson

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #69 on: February 27, 2019, 11:05:56 AM »
How long have you been winter Riding Bobby? I looked back in your other posts and it looks like you are fairly new to it, but I don't want to come across condescending.

Some suggestions I can make that may make things easier for you:

1. Buy a construction jacket - not just a vest, but a proper jacket. You can get one at TSC for about $25 on sale. This makes you look like a "drunk-on-a-bike" and drivers take pity on you as a po' folk rather than an eco-hippie, or someone challenging their worldview. Also, they will see you from way down the road giving them plenty of time to change lanes. (I just checked TSC's flyer and all Hi-Vis is on clearance this week - 50% off).

2. Take the lane. Don't even try to share - especially in winter. Part of my commute is Rossland Road, and I have only been buzzed twice on it. If you are out in the middle of the lane, wearing bright colours, drivers will see you from a long ways off, and move over.

3. Don't wait on the studded tires - get a pair and get them on now. The extra control is awesome on icy days. Also, they slide around like crazy on terrazzo floors so be careful when you walk your bike into the office.

4. Buy a pile of superbright lights. I have 3 taillights and now 3 headlights. You want to look like a clown on a Christmas tree. Remember strobe in the day, and steady at night.

5. Finally, as a cycle planner, my job is to lay out cycling infrastructure in my town. If you are willing to PM your trip ends I'll look for you and let you know if there is any supportive infrastructure that you may not be aware of in your town. Sometimes finding this stuff can be tricky - alternatively, call your town's planning/engineering department and ask to talk to a staff about your commute. It's their job to serve you, and if they are aware that the route is being used, you may see better maintenance. We can't fix what we don't know about.

katscratch

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #70 on: February 27, 2019, 11:16:42 AM »
I agree with taking the full lane in any locale it's legally allowed -- riding right in the middle of it. On a four lane road, cars can move into the next lane to get around you.

I also agree with wearing a construction jacket! I have a $5 bright yellow reflective vest and it makes a HUGE difference to how I am treated on the road. It's silly how appealing to driver psychology makes such a difference, but I'll take it. In summer I get the most space from cars when I'm wearing a dress, so those little tricks work.

BobbyTables

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #71 on: February 28, 2019, 06:46:42 AM »
Thanks Le Poisson. Technically I've been winter riding 25 years, but that was in cycling paradise of the Netherlands. I didn't wear special gear, my bike was always a rusty steel single speed tank costing 50 euros, so if the salt eats it after two seasons I just got a new one. I didn't have to share the road with cars at all so snow and ice was not much of a concern, even though the Netherlands does get some snow and freezing temps in the winter.

Here it's just a completely different experience, still enjoyable, but in a completely different way. Here I'm wearing the helmet and safety vest and have multiple lights. I have a some good routes picked out that take a little longer but are more peaceful, but these are not plowed much in the winter.

I guess I was just venting about the attitude I get here, and I'm not sure I fully agree about taking the lane. Even on a 4 lane road I get so much honking, yelling and 'punishment passes' when I ride in the middle of the lane that I feel it's better to be like 1m from the kerb or something, so it doesn't enrage drivers too much but still forces them to move slightly in the next lane.

GuitarStv

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #72 on: February 28, 2019, 07:09:50 AM »
Thanks Le Poisson. Technically I've been winter riding 25 years, but that was in cycling paradise of the Netherlands. I didn't wear special gear, my bike was always a rusty steel single speed tank costing 50 euros, so if the salt eats it after two seasons I just got a new one. I didn't have to share the road with cars at all so snow and ice was not much of a concern, even though the Netherlands does get some snow and freezing temps in the winter.

Here it's just a completely different experience, still enjoyable, but in a completely different way. Here I'm wearing the helmet and safety vest and have multiple lights. I have a some good routes picked out that take a little longer but are more peaceful, but these are not plowed much in the winter.

I guess I was just venting about the attitude I get here, and I'm not sure I fully agree about taking the lane. Even on a 4 lane road I get so much honking, yelling and 'punishment passes' when I ride in the middle of the lane that I feel it's better to be like 1m from the kerb or something, so it doesn't enrage drivers too much but still forces them to move slightly in the next lane.

Taking the lane is a judgement call, and it depends very much upon the situation you find yourself in.  It's really a balancing act between getting regularly close passed by drivers because they think they can squeeze by you while staying in the same lane, and angering drivers who don't like to follow the law regarding safe passing distances.  Unfortunately, while a large percentage of drivers remain unaware of their legal obligations regarding passing distance or unwilling to meet them there's no great solution for us.

dabighen

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #73 on: March 02, 2019, 06:14:47 PM »
The only real bike lane we have which is next to a big arterial road has been covered in snow/ice since December, so I'm taking this 50km/hr 4 lane road which is plowed regularly.

But man, the amount of hate I get there is unreal. Even tough there are two lanes each way so I'm not holding anybody up I get yelled at to get on the sidewalk or gtfo the road. This road even has signs every few 100m that says 'bicycle route', which is completely useless I guess.

Hopefully spring is here soon so I can take the bike lane and parks + sideroads again, this is stressing me out sometimes.

Yeah dude, my hypothesis is the  bigger the truck/suv the bigger the duech when it comes to how they treat bikers.  Unfortunatly, the wide trashy stripmall roads breed road rage especially.  But stay the course, the more of us out there, the more respect we will get.  Good luck.

Brother Esau

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Re: Winter biking
« Reply #74 on: March 03, 2019, 05:03:56 PM »
Brrrraaaaaap!