Note to Self:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Biking In The Snow

I like to bike in the snow. There, I said it...call me crazy if you have to. I wouldn't want to do it all the time, nor do I particularly like to bike in near blizzard conditions (like I did the other day), but on a beautiful winter's day (or night) I enjoy it immensely...it feels good to be outside and in the elements. And over the years, in the same way that a person drives a car differently in the snow, I have developed certain habits for biking which I find useful. Going much slower is obvious. But I also find that if the snow is loose or deeper than the rim of my tire, for example, when I stand and lean on the handlebars--putting most of my weight on the front tire--I have stronger steering capability. And if I see unexpected ice (and do not have time to avoid it) I hold the steering perfectly straight and coast...no pedaling, and absolutely no braking...if it is necessary to brake it has to be done very gently. I also use 1st and 2nd gear a lot more during the snow...this makes me go slower but it also gives me more control over the bike. I'm also much more cautious of other vehicles...I take side streets more often and if things look particularly perilous I'll actually choose the sidewalk over the road (something I rarely do when the roads are dry). Have I ever fallen...yes, of course, but not often. It's all trial and error. Some people like to go off-road or mountain biking...this is my off-road. I also have to be honest and say that I use my truck more often in the winter than I do during temperate months...but not exclusively. When you're a biker living in a region like this you have two choices during the winter: put your bike in storage or ride through it. I choose the latter. Sometimes I think I'm a little nuts for doing this, but the bottom line is I enjoy it...and that, I think, is what really counts.

If you are a person that bikes year-round in the snow you may find Up In Alaska and IceBike interesting.

1 comment:

David Anderson said...

I rode, not far just around the corner, in the nasty storm the other day. I put studded tires on my bike a few weeks back and the traction on ice is awesome. A bit dear at $55 per but less expensive than a broken elbow.

You might want to check the winter biking forum over at bikeforums.net. There's a particularly hardy individual in Rochester who has lots of good advice and amusing photos.