Author Topic: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!  (Read 4036 times)

Monkey stache

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Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« on: January 10, 2014, 08:47:32 PM »
I'm newer to biking as a form of transportation and I promised myself I would attempt to winter bike. That didn't happen since the last time I biked was in October. Until a few days ago! I decided to give it a shot. I figured if other Minnesotans bike all year then why couldn't I? It was -20 degrees with -50 degree wind chills that night. I layered properly and it really wasn't that bad. I feel so empowered to bike everywhere in any weather conditions now!!

NinetyFour

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2014, 08:53:05 PM »
Wow--awesome!

NWstubble

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2014, 12:07:26 AM »
You are one badass monkey!

GuitarStv

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2014, 03:19:46 AM »
How's the salt in Minnesota?  I had to completely overhaul my hubs this year because of salt related winter biking damage . . .

hoppy08520

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2014, 08:20:38 AM »
Badass! I biked through the vortex in the Washington DC area. It was only 7 degrees F. It was cold but not as bad as I feared. I just had to make sure I was dressed right. The only problem was my fingertips, in spite of wearing heavy-duty snowboarding gloves with a thick fleece liner AND a wool inner glove. I need to find something that works for my hands...

windawake

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2014, 09:43:34 AM »
I'm very impressed! I live in Minneapolis and that day was painful. What sort of set-up do you have for your bike? I don't mind the cold so much but the choppy solidified snow patches are terrifying. I want to bike now that it's warmer (and hopefully the roads will clear up a bit). I have knobbly tires on a hybrid, I was thinking about getting a studded front tire so I'm not terrified the entire time I'm riding.

Monkey stache

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2014, 10:16:52 AM »
It's pretty salty here but I've been using wd-40 on my bike. I use my husbands Specialized rock hopper since the seat drops easily on it. Biking in snow and ice is definitely a different experience and I did wipe out once. I used to play roller derby and I've spent countless hours practicing safe falling so I was alright. I'm considering adding studded tires. In the meantime I try to take busier streets since they're pretty clear. I would love a fat tire bike. Does anyone have one? Is it worth it?

lcg377

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2014, 11:47:33 AM »
Good job! My husband just started studding a set of his old tires, so you could even just DIY them if you have another set.  He found the directions online, and bought a box of screws at the hardware store.  I think he's lining them with an old tube (or maybe a road tire?) and has to get some adhesive for that.

hoppy08520

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2014, 03:31:54 PM »
I'm very impressed! I live in Minneapolis and that day was painful. What sort of set-up do you have for your bike? I don't mind the cold so much but the choppy solidified snow patches are terrifying. I want to bike now that it's warmer (and hopefully the roads will clear up a bit). I have knobbly tires on a hybrid, I was thinking about getting a studded front tire so I'm not terrified the entire time I'm riding.
I just got studded winter tires and they're amazing. From what I've read, you should really get front and rear. These tires aren't cheap, but I've found they appear a lot on Craigslist from people who bought them but never/hardly got around to using them. I'm impressed with anyone who would DIY these things...that's quite a project.

See Peter White's webpage (http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp) for a good overview of the various options.

Just to temper your expectations, though, regarding riding on "choppy solidified snow patches". If you're talking about the sides of the roadway where the frozen ice from cars and plows piles up into hard rocky ice crud, or on paths where the snow drifted a bit and then solidified into wavy hardened ice lava, then studded tires won't really help so much with that. These tires work best on relatively flat surfaces, be it ice or flattened snow. Some of the studded tires have studs half way up the sidewall, and those might work a little better, but they aren't going to chop through ice boulders.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2014, 09:11:37 AM »
Nice! The worst night I ventured out was -15F with -40F WCF (about 20 mph headwind the entire ride). Made it my 9 mile commute but cold really saps the energy.

Went out at -10F with NO wind and man was that comparatively nice. Made it my entire 25 mile training loop.

No personal experience with studded tires but I think they're mainly for grip on ice. For powder or snow, a knobby MTB tire is probably going to to better because of the deep tread. Generally speaking, though, I avoid all of it and try to stick to roads that have gotten a plow pass. My Schwinn MTB gets good grip up 2" of snow but it's still a better ride if the pavement is closer to bare. If cars have to go around me, so what?

So far my bike has been coated in salt and it does okay, but I'm taking the route of "winter beater" plus nicer bike for rest of the year. Still need to find that nicer bike, mind you. Looking at one tonight!

BPA

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2014, 09:32:54 AM »
Impressive.  I was all catheter and bedpanny by taking the bus during the polar vortex.

StPaulCityGirl

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 11:51:09 AM »
I commute during the other seasons but have yet to try winter commuting. It is only 6 miles RT, but I'm old (45, haha) and worry about wiping out and breaking something (on my person, not my bike). I just purchased a new bike and plan to convert my old one (18 years old and still going strong but so HEAVY!) into a winter bike. Glad to see there are women bikers out there braving the elements! It's hard to tell when winter bikers are mummy wrapped head to toe. Please post any words of wisdom or direct me to any useful bike-commuting blogs/sites. Thanks!

Shor

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 02:44:48 PM »
Badass & inspiring! Keep up the tough routine.

PindyStache

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Re: Winter biking in the polar vortex in Minnesota!
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 01:27:21 PM »
I'm out here with you MonkeyStache! My favorite parts from last week's weather:
1. Everyone I saw biking last week was smiling and expressed camaraderie with one another
2. Now 0 degrees F feels quite warm
3. I know I can take whatever cold the next 18 years throw at me! (this was the lowest temp in our area in 18 years)
4. I prefer biking on cold, non-melting, packed snow vs. slushy mix of ice/water/road sludge