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Overcoming fear of riding in the cold

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Overcoming fear of riding in the cold

Old 11-02-19, 06:26 AM
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alloo
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Overcoming fear of riding in the cold

How do you get over the fear of riding in the cold. Cold being below freezing. This is my first year riding my ebike to work. We just had a four day snow storm which took me off the bike. I am waiting for the snow and ice to melt before getting back on the bike. What are your thoughts? What are your tips? I ride in early in the morning like at 4 am before the plows are used for the bike paths and roads, but come home at around 3 pm.
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Old 11-02-19, 07:10 AM
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tempted to suggest, try it on a non-work day

lots of cold weather riding tips (clothing etc) in this winter subforum
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Old 11-02-19, 08:01 AM
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What specific kind of tips are you looking for? Tips on how to handle the cold? Tips on how to dress for the cold in a commute? Tips on what equipment/components/tire to have on the bike?

Dan
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Old 11-02-19, 08:21 AM
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Nothing to fear, just a bit cooler outside. Dress for it, have the right tires on for ice/snow, and ride smart.

Hardest part is just getting out the door.
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Old 11-02-19, 08:45 AM
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Just the mental hurdle of getting on the bike is the biggest thing to overcome. Once you're riding, it's business as usual. I would ditch the eBike for pure pedal power. You dont get cold when you're working hard, and sometimes any added power could throw off my balance when on ice or other slippery conditions - you need full control over your whip, it's not about speed in the Winter. Also, I would get cold some days if i had an assist, but if i ever seem to be getting chilly, a good hill takes care of the matter. Was good down below -30F last winter.
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Old 11-02-19, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
How do you get over the fear of riding in the cold. Cold being below freezing.
I never had such fear and I don't even know what fear of the cold feels like...Getting outdoors in winter feels as natural to me as any other daily activity..
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Old 11-02-19, 09:14 AM
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If your fear is related to slipping on ice get some studded tires. If you just don't like cold I don't know what to suggest other than wearing appropriate clothes. If, at the end of your ride, you're still uncomfortably cold, add more layers next ride.
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Old 11-02-19, 11:15 AM
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Overcoming fear of riding in the cold
Originally Posted by alloo View Post
How do you get over the fear of riding in the cold. Cold being below freezing. This is my first year riding my ebike to work.

We just had a four day snow storm which took me off the bike. I am waiting for the snow and ice to melt before getting back on the bike.What are your thoughts? What are your tips?

I ride in early in the morning like at 4 am before the plows are used for the bike paths and roads, but come home at around 3 pm.
Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Nothing to fear, just a bit cooler outside. Dress for it, have the right tires on for ice/snow, and ride smart.

Hardest part is just getting out the door.
Originally Posted by SalsaShark View Post
Just the mental hurdle of getting on the bike is the biggest thing to overcome. Once you're riding, it's business as usual.
Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I never had such fear and I don't even know what fear of the cold feels like...Getting outdoors in winter feels as natural to me as any other daily activity..
On the other hand,
Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
"When does Hardcore become Stupid?"

Hardcore becomes stupid when it becomes dangerous.

Hardcore becomes stupid when anything going wrong becomes a safety problem instead of an inconvenience.
For example, fixing a flat if hands are too cold, pump is froze up, glue won't stick or whatever. Of if "walk of shame" back to the house with mechanical problem becomes death march in the wilderness.

Hardcore becomes stupid when minor errors in judgment become safety issues. You estimate how long it will take, what you need to wear, whether you'll need lights, etc. If you estimate wrong, do you get a chill? Or do you die?

Hardcore has clearly become completely stupid when you lose any fingers or toes to frostbite.

In each case, it's not just the weather that makes it hardcore or stupid, it's the degree of preparation and knowledge used in dealing with the weather.
Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
"Safety and Winter Cycling"

I was thinking of starting a similar thread so I'm glad to see someone else is pondering this issue as well.

It's an issue that I feel gets right to the heart of many advocacy and safety issues and our "right to the road".

I have been riding a bike for transportation purposes in New England winters for almost 40 years now. A few things I've observed during that time:

#1 ) A bicycle can be an excellent means of transportation in the winter, even in relatively extreme conditions if the cyclist is well prepared and aware of the limitations and liabilities of winter riding.

#2 ) Bicyclists are a small percentage of vehicles on the road in mid-summer, maybe 2% at maximum. Meaning 98% of the population has chosen to drive a motorized vehicle, usually a car.

In the winter bicyclists are an even smaller percentage. A really small percentage of vehicles on the road in the winter are bicycles, perhaps 0.0002% of the vehicles will be bicycles. That means more than 99% of people have chosen another means of transport- usually the automobile.

#3 ) The number of people who will think you are "crazy" for riding to work mid-winter will be much larger than those that roll their eyes when you told them you just rode 100 miles to the company picnic mid-summer. Many of those people will also be "bicyclists" themselves.

What this means is that you will have few allies and very few people who understand why you insist on riding a bike in the winter. It is an uphill battle and one that may not be worth engaging in with most people.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Generally I get kudos or just indifference towards my cycling, mostly as a year-round commuter here in Metro Boston, even after my serious accident four years ago.

The most hostile remarks, particularly in Winter, are from those drivers who fear for themselves to hit me.

#4 ) In really bad conditions the only motorized vehicles on the road will be snowplows, emergency vehicles and people in cars who are too stupid to stay home. That means that the bicyclist must be prepared to take evasive maneuvers and ride with extreme caution when in the proximity of any motorized vehicle during the winter.

#5 ) Snowplow drivers are super dangerous. Don't mess with them. They have often been driving the plow in horrible conditions without sleep for 24-48 hours and are soused in coffee and possibly worse and they may not be able to discern whether your reflectorized vest and blinkie is an alien spacecraft landing or the beginning of a migraine headache but the last thing they'll expect it to be is a bicyclist.

#6 ) Take the lane and be visible. Drivers often hop into their car after having scraped a small 4" diameter circle in the ice on their windshield and soon the interior of their car windows are fogged to such a degree to turn all drivers into Mr. Magoo. But be prepared to give way when necessary or to take alternatives that will not put you in the way of too many cars. A plowed MUP can be a healthy alternative to the road.

#7 ) Mid-winter, IMO, is not the time to politicize your bike riding. Take the lane as a necessity but a snow storm is not the time to assert your right to the road in any self-righteous fashion or in a way that can be perceived as such. See point #2 - YOU WILL HAVE FEW ALLIES! This is a fact of life, a reality.

Most people think you're nuts to be out in that weather- even other cyclists. If the bike lane isn't plowed, if the MUP isn't plowed you're entitled to being ticked off about it but be realistic most town/city/state budgets are cash strapped and special plowing for the .0002% of vehicles during a snow emergency may not be a priority right now and that means being prepared to ride in crap.

My commute to and from work can turn into something more akin to a challenging MTB ride than a pleasant road ride. Don't expect a smooth ride. Sorry but no one really feels they owe that to those of us who bike ride in these conditions.

#8 ) Outfit your bike for winter riding. You have to be an extremely skilled rider to get through a New England winter on a fixed gear with 23 mm slicks. If you're a messenger and only riding downtown on well traveled streets you might be able to get by but if you're commuting 10 miles out of the city you'll encounter roads and conditions that will be challenging to say the least.

Have a bike just for winter riding or modify the bike you have. Having a poorly equipped bike in the winter is the equivalent to the jerk in the car driving on bald tires, old windshield wipers and no defroster.

#9 ) The reality is that people driving their cars are far more dangerous to both themselves and others on the road than a cyclist is in winter conditions. Someone just slid off the road the other day, across the bike path and into the Charles River in their car and died. My sense is that some people have no business being in cars in those conditions bikes actually do fine.

#10) Winter cyclists are definitely marching to the beat of a different drummer.
˅˅˅˅

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-03-19 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 11-02-19, 11:21 AM
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˄˄˄˄

Not to be a Captain Bringdown on Winter Cycling…
Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
...lots of cold weather riding tips (clothing etc) in this winter subforum
Originally Posted by gerv View Post
I often recall how BF played such a vital part in getting me out on the street and in better health....

What about you? What role did BF play in getting you out on two wheels?
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have been an avid cyclist, as a lifestyle since about 1972… I happened serendipitously on Bike Forums in 2008, and it was frankly incredible to find a community that shared so many concerns I had kept to myself as a lone cyclist.

This enthusiasm has definitely increased my enjoyment of cycling. As far as improving it, what I have gotten directly from BF [include]:

  • the motivation and tips to ride in rain, and wintry roads, i.e. studded tires
  • the opportunity to post and literally "journal" my thoughts and activities about cycling and lifestyle (even if nobody else reads them), but which I wouldn't write down otherwise….
    ˅˅˅˅

    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-02-19 at 11:43 AM.
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    Old 11-02-19, 11:23 AM
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    Jim from Boston
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    ˄˄˄˄

    To handle the nefarious situations of Winter Cycling, see this thread “Emergency Winter Cycling Kit?,” including my measures.
    Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    I too ride on urban / suburban routes with similar measures, but early, before 6 AM. I envision going to an indoor ATM machine to fix a flat, so I carry a bank card too.

    I routinely bring enough clothing in a pannier to accommodate any wet / cold weather, with enough space to doff items, from about 50° F to zero. I don’t carry a lock and wouldn’t want to abandon my bike, with hassle of picking up later.

    I have only about three times called a taxi on my decades of commuting, all in temperate weather. I haven’t used Uber yet, so I don’t know how long wait (and inactive) times would be, especially in the early AM,so I would prefer to keep moving in the cold.


    Since I have excellent Commuter Rail as an alternative commute, even on which to take my bike, I have frankly disdained busses, which are more accesible and frequent on my routes. Last week I did take a bus with my bike, and was pleased with the service, and carrying capacity, so now that looks like a primary emergency measure.

    PS: I also use Kevlar tire liners year round, even on my fair weather carbon fiber road bike, to hopefully forestall flats.
    Addendum: I just read this tip on the Winter Cycling Forum, "Winter is just around the corner." not so much for safety, but comfort (which I do):
    Originally Posted by 3S1M View Post
    I did figure something out last night, I think I'll either put my fenders back on or just ride my wifes bike in the wet.

    It leave less of a mess on my jacket that I wear for riding. Which I also wear for normal stuff too. LOL.

    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-03-19 at 07:10 AM. Reason: Added Addendum
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    Old 11-02-19, 08:52 PM
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    Thank You all! I rode to work taking a chance. The ride to work for the most part was good. I dressed enough to remain comfortable. I discovered that heated gloves are good for both motorcycles and bicycles. The ride home was dark and the MUP was icy, so I rode on the road instead. I felt the ride home was more chancy, but I took a different route. I decided to coast through the ice and kept my balance and looking on the horizon. Overall, I think riding bicycles on bike paths are harder than riding my scooter on the street. Highly used roads have less ice than bike route roads and bike trails. Anyway, by Monday, more snow and ice should be melted.

    I guess, I'm learning about layers and road conditions, that is my fear. I fell on my bike in August and had a concussion. When you're older you take less chances and become more fearful. This is my first winter riding bicycles to work as a commuter. Yes, I understand that riding an analog bike causes your to generate more heat. Ebikes makes you cooler and needing thicker gear in my opinion. When it clears up, I'm sure I will know how to read weather conditions to determine whether or not a particular route is good/Safe.

    This October we got 11 inches of snow so far. My adventure continues.

    Last edited by alloo; 11-02-19 at 08:55 PM.
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    Old 11-03-19, 02:39 AM
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    WRT the temperature as such, I’ll happily ride in any temperature I’d consider skiing or skating in. Or doing yard work in. Not a big deal once you’ve gotten your clothing needs dialed in. My bail-out plan in case of something unfixable is simple. I ride from the suburbs into the city. I’m never more than perhaps a mile away from some sort of public transport. I carry extra clothes that can keep me warm while waiting. And a sturdy lock to hopefully keep the bike secure until it can be retrieved. Calling a cab would probably work too.
    Through the suburbs there is a bike path just about all the way. Once I hit the city, traffic is so heavy that the speed difference between me and cars isn’t much of an issue any more. I use high-count, studded, deep-tread tires. They roll heavily but will deal well with ice and hard pack with only a little care.
    WRT car behaviour my impression is ”the worse, the better”. At bicycle speeds, it takes nearly a blizzard before visibility is affected. At car speeds, and car headlights, the backscatter gets so much worse. Traffic slows down, and drivers become more careful.
    The only thing that will definitely keep me from riding is snow depth. 3” or more, The commute simply takes too long, becomes too tiring. High winds have caused me to cut the commute short, not out of strict necessity, but rather in an attempt to be sensible. Those issues I’ve had have been mainly self-inflicted, ie unwillingness to use the bail-out plan even when available.
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    Old 11-03-19, 05:41 AM
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    There are many levels of cold and conditions that accompany it. Can you be more specific?
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    Old 11-03-19, 11:23 AM
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    Originally Posted by dabac View Post
    Calling a cab would probably work too
    re: calling a cab, which I've done twice in the past 2 years. the bike may or may not fit in the trunk. at least one wheel is gonna come off to help it fit. it the bike goes in the back seat area putting it in upside down can help. having a wet snowy bike in the back seat of the person's car isn't going to be great. expecting a cab to have a bike rack isn't realistic. expecting a cab company to have van in your area isn't realistic. research your route & compile a list of cabs in the area & carry that list with you. if you have AAA, they provide service for bikes as well but I've never used them for that
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    Old 11-03-19, 03:21 PM
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    I totally get it. I you fell and got a concussion, that would be a hard thing to not have in your mind. I guess it's the old adage of getting back on your horse. The more you do it the less you will fear it.

    I have not had to deal with this with riding yet, but I can totally understand it. I have lyme disease and I struggle with dealing with things that scare me that never would have when I was younger and didn't have health problems. And I've had to go up an down with a few of them.

    For example, I play guitar and bass guitar and drums and played in my Church for a long time before I got sick. Then I had to step down from not having any energy from Lyme. Then as I got better I started to play again. I've had to start a stop a few times from health issues and each time I start it's very nerve wracking. At the moment I don't typically struggle playing because I've been fine playing for over a year now. Now it's just business as usual. Now when they ask me to sing a solo, that's a whole other level. I've only done it 3 times in the last 10 years and one was a duet with my wife. But talk about nerve wracking. I don't know if I'll ever get used to doing that.

    Anyways... long story short, the more you do it and have success, the easier it will get on the mind. But it's completely understandable to have it stress you out more in the beginning. Since having a bad experience. Reminder, I need to wear a helmet more. That's one of the hard parts of winter. I've been wearing knit hats more and not a helmet......

    I need to ask what people do for helmets in the real cold. Like do you have an extra helmet that's larger than normal and were a hood on you head underneath it......
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    Old 11-03-19, 04:59 PM
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    Originally Posted by 3S1M View Post
    I need to ask what people do for helmets in the real cold. Like do you have an extra helmet that's larger than normal and were a hood on you head underneath it......
    No special winter helmet.
    Down to -15-17 C, I use a headband and a helmet cover.
    I have some special caps/balaclavas meant to go under a helmet. But I tend to sweat them down, and they interfere with fit more than the headband. Helmet cover works better IME.
    Past that, I’d probably simply use my skiing helmet instead.
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    Old 11-03-19, 05:22 PM
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    Originally Posted by 3S1M View Post

    I need to ask what people do for helmets in the real cold. Like do you have an extra helmet that's larger than normal and were a hood on you head underneath it......
    I use a snowboard helmet (Bern Berkeley, to be specific) and pair it with a balaclava/face cover. This comes out when it gets a bit below freezing. It's a helmet that feels like wearing a pillow.

    Otherwise, I have a tiny head so ear warmers and a balaclava fit just great with my normal summer helmet. I'm prone toward ear infections, so I actually cover up my ears once it drops below about 70*F.
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    Old 11-03-19, 05:30 PM
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    Originally Posted by alloo View Post
    How do you get over the fear of riding in the cold.
    Basically: trusting my preparation and gear.

    The right gear and preparation largely depends on conditions and routes. Studded tires help a ton with ice; different tires and pressures can help with snow. There is a learning curve to getting the right layers and hand/foot/face coverage, but experimentation and carrying around some additional items can help. I try to be prepared for the worst case scenario, whether it's getting a flat in town or having a major mechanical on some country road with no cell service. Preparation can involve bringing an extra layer and handwarmers...or knowing how to get the bike in a taxi or where to stop and get indoors.

    I used to freak out about temperatures below 0F, but that faded once I figured out the right gear. Some conditions I just don't encounter enough to be prepared for, so I do not ride in those (nor do I need to.)
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    Old 11-03-19, 08:04 PM
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    Some good stuff above. The only thing I would add is, even if I think I know what it is, I always sit down and review the weather forecast before I go out. It is part of my pre-ride ritual. Prevents surprises. Things can change in a matter of a few hours. So always check the weather. The other thing is ice. You live in Denver and so are an expert in snow by default. But I don't know how much ice you get. We get little snow in most parts of Portland, but we can get quite a bit of ice. The problem with it is that it is not always visible. I went down on a gentle left-hand turn in 2012 after hitting some black ice that was completely hidden from view. It looked like dampness from rain. I was on the pavement, sliding like as hockey puck before I knew what had happened. No serious injuries, fortunately. But I learned my lesson. I often now cancel a ride when the temperature is hovering around freezing and when there is precipitation falling, as that is where we most often see ice accumulate. Just too dangerous.

    So, those are my tips. Be aware of the most current weather data. And worry about ice when that is appropriate.
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    Old 11-04-19, 05:59 AM
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    Jim from Boston
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    Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
    Some good stuff above. The only thing I would add is, even if I think I know what it is, I always sit down and review the weather forecast before I go out…

    So, those are my tips...
    One other danger of Winter Riding I did not see mentioned above, which I have focused on (pun intended):
    Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    I perennially post about my winter eyewear for my 14 mile year-round commute, from about 35° down to as low as 0°. I must wear my prescription eyeglasses, and fogging is one of the worst dangers of winter riding. I am entirely satisfied with my system:…
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    Old 11-04-19, 06:07 AM
      #21  
    Jim from Boston
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    Originally Posted by alloo View Post
    How do you get over the fear of riding in the cold.
    Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
    Basically: trusting my preparation and gear

    I used to freak out about temperatures below 0F, but that faded once I figured out the right gear. Some conditions I just don't encounter enough to be prepared for, so I do not ride in those (nor do I need to.)
    I have recently posted,
    Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    Winter is right around the corner

    On several threads, I have posted my slogan for winter riding, Gear and Gumption,” obviously mostly clothing. ...As for the bicycle, the definitive transition to winter is mounting the studded tires, early in December, and removal signals winter is over, usually in late March.

    And I transition entirely to the beater bike with the studded tires until a late winter storm thoroughly rinses off the road salt; then I bring out the pristine carbon fiber road bike.

    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-04-19 at 08:30 AM.
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    Old 11-04-19, 09:59 AM
      #22  
    3S1M
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    Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
    Some good stuff above. The only thing I would add is, even if I think I know what it is, I always sit down and review the weather forecast before I go out. It is part of my pre-ride ritual. Prevents surprises. Things can change in a matter of a few hours. So always check the weather. The other thing is ice. You live in Denver and so are an expert in snow by default. But I don't know how much ice you get. We get little snow in most parts of Portland, but we can get quite a bit of ice. The problem with it is that it is not always visible. I went down on a gentle left-hand turn in 2012 after hitting some black ice that was completely hidden from view. It looked like dampness from rain. I was on the pavement, sliding like as hockey puck before I knew what had happened. No serious injuries, fortunately. But I learned my lesson. I often now cancel a ride when the temperature is hovering around freezing and when there is precipitation falling, as that is where we most often see ice accumulate. Just too dangerous.

    So, those are my tips. Be aware of the most current weather data. And worry about ice when that is appropriate.
    We get that here sometimes too (black ice) and I'm glad you weren't hurt. I'm a bit concerned about that too as it will be my first year to try and ride in the winter. I will have to pay attention to when the ice seems to be worst. We don't get as much rain as you guys obviously. But this year it practically feels like it. It seems like for the last two months it's like every other day or every third day it's raining. Not all day, just parts of the day.
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    Old 11-04-19, 10:49 AM
      #23  
    Leebo
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    Studded tires keep you upright and not on the pavement. Keep your head, hands and feet warm, the rest will follow. I usually try to keep and extra warm layer, some hand warmers too on the bike. Phone and an ATM card too. Usually those cash machines have a heater blasting, great place to warm up. And thermos of hot coffee is great too.
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    Old 11-04-19, 05:45 PM
      #24  
    alloo
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    I guess, I'm trying different things out. It's the beginning of winter for us. I'm learning different routes. I think I have my layers down. It's just not knowing which streets remain icy/What part of the route has a tendency to remain icy, How long does it take for the snow and ice to melt after a snow storm? I know that it takes two days of 40+F for main roads to clear up and be safe for scootering. What about less used bicycle routes. I haven't gotten studded tires, my take is if the road is icy/Snowy(Compact) I am catching the bus/train to work. It's just nerves of being older 50+, I can usually remain calm and make the right decisions. I also do watch weather forecast, but when you have micro climates throughout your ride, my ride might be fine near my home, but conditions are different near my work or on the way there. I am continuing to learn and you're right the more success I have during this first winter, the better. I already made it through the spring, summer and fall. The first few storms are the hardest because I have no experience base to rely on.
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    Old 11-04-19, 06:26 PM
      #25  
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    Originally Posted by alloo View Post
    I guess, I'm trying different things out. It's the beginning of winter for us. I'm learning different routes. I think I have my layers down. It's just not knowing which streets remain icy/What part of the route has a tendency to remain icy, How long does it take for the snow and ice to melt after a snow storm? I know that it takes two days of 40+F for main roads to clear up and be safe for scootering. What about less used bicycle routes. I haven't gotten studded tires, my take is if the road is icy/Snowy(Compact) I am catching the bus/train to work. It's just nerves of being older 50+, I can usually remain calm and make the right decisions. I also do watch weather forecast, but when you have micro climates throughout your ride, my ride might be fine near my home, but conditions are different near my work or on the way there. I am continuing to learn and you're right the more success I have during this first winter, the better. I already made it through the spring, summer and fall. The first few storms are the hardest because I have no experience base to rely on.
    Well, you clearly don't know nothing, because you are aware that there are microclimates there. We have some pretty profound microclimates here as well, but every legit forecaster here knows they must mention what the weather is going to be as one gets closer to the Columbia River Gorge/East Portland (colder, windier) and Mt. Hood an hour to the east (colder, snowier). I feel certain the Denver-area forecaster must do the same. If they don't, then I would suspect your microclimates just aren't that prominent in your area.
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