Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Four Season Cyclist

I have been a commuter by bicycle for.....what? Fourteen years now?  Yeah, pretty close to that. So, I have got the route, the bike, the clothing, and the rest all sorted out. Not only that, but I ride all year long.

That surprises some people, which by this time, I find rather strange. To my way of thinking, it is more of a "why wouldn't I ride my bicycle?", than it is a "why would you do that?" sort of thing. Once you get the hang of it, it beats driving a car hands down. Driving to work, on the rare occasions that I have to, makes me go crazy. I hate it. Really.

I hate driving to work.

Maybe if I had a rad '57 Chevy, or some such car...... Nah! I'd still ride my bicycle! It's got way too many upsides to it than negatives. So, I took the time over the last year to gather a shot from- more or less- the same vantage point to illustrate how riding to work every day is a beautiful thing to me.

So, there you have it. A four season view from a four season cyclist. I love riding in all four seasons. There are really fun things about all of them, along with challenges, which are fun to figure out and overcome. Mostly, I like the mind clearing, centering facet of commuting by bicycle. It is addictive and now I wouldn't live without it. Get out of that metal and plastic rat cage and clear your mind of that road rage. Commute by bicycle y'all!


Phillip Cowan said...

I guess I'm a three season commuter, spring,summer and fall, but I give it up when the road ices over. Still I have fantasies of riding through the winter. We have a lot of winter here in northern Illinois and I hate going to the gym so I end up doing nothing. I lose all my summer fitness. My question is do you use studded tires and if so which ones do you like. My apologies if you've already written this up before.

Slender Fungus said...

I ride all year also and I think last year I got driven to work one time. I remember it was freeze raining. It was December and my wife said to me: " You go out there and ride in that and you are going to fall and crack your hip guaranteed. Then you won't be able to ride for months" I took her advice and was thankful. I had left my studded tires at the shop and would have fallen for sure. Commuting does take preparation.
Thanks for this post GT!

Guitar Ted said...

@phillip Cowan: Actually, I don't like studded tires very well at all. :>) I have used 45 NRTH's 700c studded tire, whatever goofy name they call it, and it works well. I rode on ice so slick I couldn't stand up on it once, but we get that sort of condition here so rarely that I can usually get by with a fat bike and about 6psi in the tires.

If we did get a lot of icy roads often enough here, I would opt for the highest quality casing I could get that was studded. I think the budget, cheaper studded tires are absolutely dreadful to ride on.

Unknown said...

I'm in Madison, WI and like GT says, there aren't actually a ton of days in the winter when studded tires are a huge asset. That said, for me *winter* tires are more than just the studs and they're a staple of my winter riding equipment. The studs are great for icy conditions, but the tread also works really well to cut through and shed snow and the high shoulders ensure a good contact patch when traction may be otherwise compromised. The rubber compound and siping also give really good traction on bare pavement in cold conditions. Full fenders and good lights are the other critical pieces of winter biking equipment.

I ride Schwalbe Marathon Winters and went up from 35c to 40c two winters ago. If you can fit the 40s under fenders, I would go that route. They're not that much heavier and they really make mashed potato riding more manageable.

Phillip Cowan said...

A new fat bike would be sweet but I've got too many irons in the fire now and my budget won't stand for it this year so studded tires are probably my best option. My favorite commute route is about 85% paved rail trail. It's really nice but it never gets cleared in winter so a thick layer of crusty rutted ice builds up. A layer of fresh snow makes it more treacherous because you can't see whats under there. I'm really envious of the fat bike guys. I'm sure they float right over this stuff. Anyway thanks for the advice GT and GF.

Mac said...

I've been a four season commuter for years in Chicagoland. I only call off my five mile commute when snow will be affecting morning rush hour traffic, or if wind chills are predicted to be below -25F. I also use Schwalbe Marathon Winters, but because I will end up riding through packed snow/ice that has been insufficiently cleared towards the road edge.

I decided to drive this morning though, because it was raining, and regretted it two miles and twenty minutes later.

blooddoc23 said...

3 1/2 seasons here. Ive had some bad crashes on ice (thaw and refreeze) probably because of inadequate gear, so Im out with ice and snow. Global warming has resulted in more year around riding!

Dan said...

Thanks Mr. GT for this post. I commute year-round - and you've inspired me to take some four season shots.

Daniel said...

I commute year around in Portland, OR. Our winters consist of lots of rain and maybe a day or two of snow. People are amazed that I ride my bike in the winter but its pretty easy if you have the right gear.
Does anyone else gets a certain sense of pleasure of riding past a line of cars that are stuck in traffic. Its great.

Mike316 said...

I commute on a Pugsley year round in Des Moines. I have three sets of wheels 25mm, 65mm and 80mm. In the winter I can stay of the road for almost the entire route by using bike trails and RR access roads. I use 27 TPI Dillinger 4 studded tires all winter long unless we get a long warm dry spell. I am about 10 minutes slower on my 18 mile round trip but I really like them. Even though the trails are plowed they can have significant ice patches from thawing and refreezing. The studded tire give lots of confidence and I haven't gone down yet. My wife and we were out riding together on the trails last winter. She has a Pugsley and was riding the Nates that came on it. We hit one of the ices patches under snow and she went down while I rode through with no issues. I just got 120TPI Dillinger 5s off the fat bide trader facebook page and I am going to put them on the front of both bikes. The 4s will move to the rear. I thought 27TPI worked fine in the rear where all the weight is but in the front they are a little to stiff. I think the wider more supple 5's will work well.