Just because the temperture drops below 50F and the sun sets around 5:30 doesn’t mean it is time to hang up your bike for the season. Biking in the winter is a great way to beat the slow, snow-ridden commutes and keep of that “winter weight”. Here are some tips from allweathersports.com that will help keep you out on the bike during the months ending in -er or -uary.

Winter Biking

Remember that all of the tips here can be applied to a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Use your judgement as to what you need to make your winter riding more enjoyable!
Go there directly with this index:


Our Iditasport Tip Sheet also has valuable information that you can apply to a variety of cold-weather riding conditions.

For your Viewing pleasure, we feature a winter riding photo gallery! We haven’t had much of a chance to organize this stuff, so be prepared to have 250K of JPEGs thrown at you.

The Tips:

Tires

    Wide tires with widely separated knobs work best on snow.

    Boazobeanna front and rear are the best tires we’ve found for soft snow.

    Use low pressure: start with 15-20 psi and experiment for yourself. Sometimes 5 psi feels great.

    Glue tires to rims: Use tubular tire glue or any strong contact cement in about 6 six-inch strips. Only glue one side. We always glue the right side so we don’t have to try to figure it out in the dark.

    Snow Cat rims improve flotation, traction and stability on snow or ice.

    Studded tires improve traction on ice.

    Chains improve traction on snow or ice but dig themselves in on soft snow and give a rough, slow ride on pavement.

Lubrication

    Bicycles don’t need to be “winterized” the way cars do. The loads on bicycle bearings are so slight that just about any grease will protect them. We put low temperature grease in bicycle bearings to make them easier to pedal and steer. Some bicycles have grease in their freewheels that can cause problems when it gets very cold. We can disassemble the freewheel, clean it out, and put small amounts of low temperature grease in the right places. The grease we use is good year round, it doesn’t have to be changed for summer. So, if your bike works in the cold, it’s already “winterized.”

    On the other hand, bicycles that are used regularly end up with more dirt and water than grease in their bearings and yearly repacking will make them last a lot longer So repack bearings in the fall with low temperature grease and call it winterizing.

    We test greases for winter bike use by putting them outside when it’s minus 40 degrees (F) or colder. Some “low temperature ” greases get a lot stiffer than others at those temperatures. The best we’ve found so far is Lubriplate Mag-1.

    We have a lubricant for cables that stays liquid at minus 40 degrees (F). This can help your bike shift better in winter.

    Goretex RideOn cables require no lubrication, so they work well no matter how cold they are.

Lighting

    Most states require bicycles to have a white light in front and a red light in back, both visible at 500 feet, as well as side reflectors and a red rear reflector. Red flashers that meet this requirement are available for about $16.

    White strobes are brighter and are visible at a greater distance but alone they don’t meet legal requirements. Also, they blink less frequently, making it harder for drivers to see your position and direction.

    Flashers are best mounted on your bike or rear rack, where they can be aimed precisely, rather than on clothes or packs, where they shift around. Many people install more than one rear flasher.

    Headlights that meet the state requirements also start at about $16 These are basic, non-rechargeable lights that will make you legal, let you be seen and help you see under some conditions. This is often enough. However, people who ride longer distances and in all conditions usually use more powerful lights. One popular high-power system uses dual beams, produces 35 watts and costs $300. There are many systems available between these extremes. Each system offers a particular combination of power, endurance, weight and price.

    Winter trail riding requires surprisingly little light; 4-5 watts is plenty The snow reflects well and there are no other light sources so your eyes can adapt to low light. If the moon is bright or the clouds are reflecting light from the city, try turning your light off. For long trail rides try installing a lower wattage bulb to get more battery life. Make sure to match bulb and battery voltages.

    Generator lights don’t work well in wet or snowy conditions and often don’t give enough light at slow winter speeds. The less sophisticated ones give no light when you’re not moving.

    Systems that power the taillight and headlight from the same battery may leave you invisible from the rear if a wire breaks.without your knowing it. Independent rear flashers are very reliable and can run for at least a year on 2 AA cells.

    Reflectors are available as vests, straps, tape and plastic pieces that mount to bicycles.

    Clear (white) reflectors return twice as much light as amber ones and more than three times as much as red ones

Riding Technique

    Try to pedal smoothly and relax your upper body, especially on ice and soft snow.

    When the bike starts going sideways, make small corrections rather than oversteering and weaving down the trail. Practice riding in a straight line when the trail is good so it’s easier under bad conditions.

    On some soft trails, higher speeds take less effort than lower speeds.because your tires sink into the snow less at higher speed.

    When riding in a group on soft trails, have the weaker, less skilled or badly equipped riders lead so they can use the trail before the better riders cut it up.

    Snow machines leave the center of the trail soft. Their best tracks are left by their skis, if you can ride straight enough to use them.

    Dogsleds leave harder, smoother trails than snow machines.

    Road ice can provide lots of traction or very little. Learn how the different types look and sound. Try not to brake hard on the slippery sort, or if you must, use only your rear brake. Watch for dry patches where you can do your braking or turning.

Clothes

    Cycling generates a lot of heat so clothes that are warm and comfortable have to control the buildup of heat and moisture as well as insulate and protect from wind.

    Your particular metabolism, physical condition and riding style will determine what’s needed to keep you warm. We see people who ride in Carhartts and bunny boots and others who ride in lightweight ski gear. You’ll have to experiment.

    Your outer layer on top and bottom should have a windproof front and breathable sides and rear.

    Goretex and other “breathable” waterproof materials become clogged with ice at below-freezing temperatures. As windproof front materials these fabrics are acceptable but unnecessarily expensive. On the sides and back of your riding clothes they’ll trap moisture and freeze you.

    Layer various weights of polypro, capilene, drilete or thermax under your outer, breathable/windproof clothes. Multiple light layers with neck zippers let you adjust your ventilation as you ride.

    Your base layer (against your skin) and mid-layers should be synthetics or wool. Cotton in these layers will feel wetter and colder than the above materials. No T-shirts!

    Over the years, the Kucharik company has most consistently offered clothes that meet our need for outer layers with windproof fronts and very breathable sides and back.

    Windproof jocks, as used by skiers, are much appreciated by men. In an emergency, stuff a mitten or hat in your pants.

    If you feel warm as you start out then you’re probably overdressed for any ride longer than a half hour.

    Kinneys’ snow jogger boots are light, warm and inexpensive. They can be adapted to use SPD or Grafton cleats. Try them on with at least two pairs of heavy socks. If Kinneys doesn’t have them this year,Big Rays, LL Bean, REI and Eddy Bauer have similar shoes. For extreme cold or sensitive feet try Sorels or neoprene boot covers.

    Power grips are a type of oversized toestrap used in place of toeclips. They work well summer or winter and they’re available in an extra-long version for winter footgear. Because they’re made of fabric and don’t compress your toes, they’re warmer than toeclips.

    Bike pogies are oversized mittens that fit over the handlebars. They let you ride barehanded when you’d wear gloves and let you wear gloves when you’d need heavy mittens. This improves your control of the bike and makes eating, drinking, clothes adjusting and nose wiping easier.

    Disposable heat packs can be part of your normal system or can be carried for emergencies. They come in hand and foot varieties and last for 2-5 hours, depending on conditions. The reusable types are heavy and bulky and less effective.

    Carry headband, hat and facemask and try them in different combinations. Neck gaitors and balaclavas are variations on the theme you may find useful Your face, head and neck will need different amounts of protection as conditions vary. Uncovering your head is usually the simplest way to dump heat.

    You may need to change the sizing pads in your helmet or remove them entirely to fit your winter headgear. Some hats are made specifically to fit under helmets. Try taping over the vents in your helmet if your head gets too cold.

    If you’re riding in a headwind or falling snow you’ll find eye protection very helpful.

Miscellaneous

    It’s easy to get dehydrated just living up here in the winter. Exercising outdoors makes it even easier. Dehydration causes decreased blood volume which makes us more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. It’s important to drink water frequently if you’re riding for more than one hour. Some people use insulated waterbottles but the most popular and generally successful system is the Camelbak, usually worn under the outer layer of clothes.

    Below zero, cycling speeds generate enough wind chill to freeze exposed skin quickly. If parts of your face feel cold or numb, stop and warm them before they get frostbitten. If you’re riding with others, watch each others’ faces for white spots.

    Be careful with glasses, watches, jewelry and zipper pulls. Small metal and plastic objects can get cold enough to cause frostbite.

    Carry emergency food in your tool bag so it’s always on the bike. Energy food, like a Powerbar, works well

    Carry an extra clothes layer, about 20 degrees worth. Windshells, an insulated jacket, something to keep you warmer if you have to walk for a while.

    If your feet get cold, run with the bike.

    Mushers always have the right of way. Get fully off the trail early to let them by. Some of them have $10,000 lead dogs and none of them want to risk tangling with bikes.

    Dogsleds can be vey quiet and very fast. They can surprise you from behind or head-on.

    Cover your tools with tape so you don’t have to touch cold metal directly when doing emergency repairs.

    Few mechanical things work well when it gets very cold (say minus 30 degrees (F) or colder). Even a well prepared bicycle isn’t at its best then.

    Steel gets more brittle at winter temperatures but I haven’t seen any steel frames or components break from the cold.

    Aluminum and titanium don’t get significantly more brittle at winter temperatures.

    Aluminum shrinks more than steel as it cools and on a bike with a steel fork and aluminum frame the headset will get loose when it’s very cold.

    Plastics do get brittle and we see waterbottle cages, toeclips, pedals and the sheathing on cable housing break all winter. If the plastic cracks on indexed shifter housing, the housing will buckle and the shifting won’t work.

    You can reinforce the shifter housing with heat-shrink tubing (available at electrical supply stores) to prevent this problem. The size that fits best is 3/16″.

    Elastomer suspensions generally stop moving between 20 F and 0 F but they don’t seem to be damaged by the cold.

    Oil-damped suspension systems are often damaged by operating at low temperatures You can change the oil in them to avoid this or install a rigid fork

    Only bring a cold bike indoors if you can keep it there until it’s dried off completely.

    If you bring a room temperature bike out into cold snow and ride it immediately, the snow thrown up by the tires may freeze onto brakes and derailleurs. Some winter bike problems have very simple solutions.

    As you ride through the winter questions and problems will come up. Feel free to come by or call; we want to help.


Tires | Lubrication | Lighting | Riding Technique | Clothes | Miscellaneous


Emailed questions, suggestions, and tips are welcome!
simon@allweathersports.com

Seeing advertisements for Thanksgiving, and remember gut-busting feasts of years past, I thought of all good times with family I have had on this special day, and all of the calories I must have consumed over the years of turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, and pie (ohh the pie!!). I found this link from about.com (walking.about.com/library/cal/blthanksgivingcalories.htm) that lets you calculate the total caloric intake from the thanksgiving festivities. I plugged it what I normally ate for Thanksgiving day and the total was . . . remember I am a growing boy . . . 2995 calories. The website readout then said, “You will need to walk 29.95 miles, 48.30 kilometers, or 59900 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.” If I walked at the average pace of 15min/mile it would take me over seven hours to walk off Thanksgiving! However, if I biked at a moderate pace, burning 800 calories an hour, I could burn the same meal in less than 4 hours. So my advice is that this friday, if you have woken up from your tryptophan-induced coma, andyou are not fighting with someone in a Wal-Mart over a flatscreen TV on sale for $15, go for a bike ride, enjoy the fall air, and the watch the savory Thanksgiving pounds melt away.

turkey-biking

The ECCC is the ruling body of collegiate cycling from the Delaware to Maine, including some universities in Canada! The ECCC is by far the largest collegiate cycling conference in the nation, almost doubling the ridership of the second biggest conference. At the recent fall meeting to go over rule changes and race proposals for the spring, this map of the current ECCC teams was shown. This is a great visual aid, showing the layout of the conference and why so many races seem to be in the southeast of the conference. Going with the theme of internet mapping, I want to offer each team in the ECCC a free Mappler Mapping site like the one I have created for the Rutgers Team (www.mappler.com/bikeru). These websites can be used for anything from increased ridership to mapping you teams race schedule and race courses. If you are an official ECCC and are interested in the website, please contact me about getting your school’s Mappler site going.

For more on collegiate cycling visit www.collegiatecycling.org

Posted by: bikenwalk | November 20, 2008

Velib, French for “Bikeability”

Actually Velib, or velib libre, means free bike or bicycle freedom. Velib has also meant a new way for citizens and visitors of Paris to see the city of love. Velib is a bicycle sharing program that was started in the summer of 2007 with a fleet of over 10,000 bicycles. Like most rental cars services, for a nominal fee the bikes can be picked up at one of the drop points around Paris using a swipe-card. The bikes can then be used to tour the city. Subscriptions can be purchased for anywhere from a day to several years. The program has skyrocketed and spin-offs have poped up in cities like Rome, Amsterdam, and even Tokyo. On this side of the pond, a bike-sharing program called “Smartbike DC” was created by the Clear Channel Outdoor organization and the District Department of Transportation. To prove that this system works at any level, McDaniel College, a small liberal arts school in Central Maryland, has started a yellow bike program that is modeled after the Velib program and the Smart Bike Project.

Smart Bike Drop Point

Smart Bike Drop Point

What I think makes these programs so successful is that it eliminates what has been found to be the most intimindating part of cycling, and what keeps most people off bikes, is the technical aspects of bicycle riding. By leaving the maintence to the mechanics, people finally have a carefree way to enjoy bike riding. The only way I can see to make bike riding more convienient is to provide user-friendly maps of the community so that bikers can find a route that gets them to where they want to go, suites their capabilities, avoids any potential hazards, and is scenic and enjoyable. This is what I hope to accomplish through the Bike N’ Walk Program. With websites like www.mappler.com/rubike I hope to provide a way for communities to come together and provide relevant bike information regarding their streets and cities. I hope that sharing this information on these mapping websites makes bike riding as convenient as Velib has made bike riding in Paris.

For more infomation bike sharing programs, please visit the following sites:

Velib, Paris France, www.en.velib.paris.fr/ (English Version)

Smart Bike D.C., Washington DC www.smartbikedc.com/program_information.asp

Yellow Bike Project, Portland, OR and McDaniel College c2.com/ybp/

Posted by: bikenwalk | November 19, 2008

What’s your carbon footprint, bike tred, or car tred?

I found the link for rollingcarbon.org on the Transportation Alternatives webstie. While there are more extensive websites for determining your overall effect on the environment, rollingcarbon.org allows you to see the impact on a daily, and easily changed behaviors, commuting to work. Reducing the amount of carbon produced during your commute to work means that you are putting forth more energy, meaning a healthier you, and also means less environmental pollution, meaning healthier air for everyone.

I have two jobs, the one that lets me write and advocate for biking, which is awesome, and another one that pays the bills. With the first job, I am lucky to live close enough that I am a quick bike ride or a pleasant walk from work. This commute leaves no carbon footprint. My other job unfortunately is too far, and too dangerous, for biking or walking, so I have to drive the 10 miles each day to work. This commute 24.4 pounds of carbon dioxide. To offset this I would need to plant 35 trees a week. I either better start digging or carpooling to work.

Find out your commutes carbon footprint at rollingcarbon.org

Posted by: bikenwalk | November 18, 2008

A Virtuous Cycle: Bicycling in DC

Part of the YouTube and Pulitzer Competition, the video “A Virtuous Cycle: Bicycling in DC” was created to document the current transitional state of cycling in the Nation’s Capital. Efforts by different organizations in the Distric of Columbia, like the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Pedestrian and Bicycling section of the Dept. of Transportation, have created over 40 miles of bike lanes and more bike facilities (including a public bike rental organization). These efforts have led D.C. to become one of the only northeastern cities to make the League of American Bicyclists most bike-friendly cities.

Despite these improvements DC still requires significant improvments before it can be consireded to be on the same plan as Portland, OR or Davis, CA. As stated in the video below, like most cities, increased gas prices and overcrowded streets have led to increaed interest in bike commuting. However, again like most cities, DC does not have the infrastructure or resources to handle a mass inrease in bike commuting.

While I think that DC has made some incredible strides toward being a biking city, one thing that I feel is overlooked in this video, and by many other organizations, is improving the biker as well as the biking in a city. Repaving or widening roads, adding bike racks, and all other maintenence-related bicycling improvements can take hundereds of man hours and cost milliions of dollars. Having an population of cyclists that are informed of road rules and cycling etiquite is an effective, and economical, way of making urban cycling safer. Also, having a knowledgable bicycling citizens gives administrators and facility maitanence personel eyes and ears into the bike facilities and what changes will make the most difference in improving bikeability. This is why I am a proponent to creating online, and interactive, bike resources for different communities. I have created such websites for my college community at Rutgers University, rubiking.wordpress.com and www.mappler.com/rubike and I hope that other communities follow these examples and the intiatives set in DC to make their own communities more bike-friendly.

Posted by: bikenwalk | November 14, 2008

Common Grounds Seminar: Bikeability panel

After our guest speaker for the Voorhees Transportation Center’s Common Grounds Bikeability Seminar, discussed in yesterday’s post, there was a Q&A session with three notable figures in bicycling and public policy in New Jersey. The panelists were Jerry Fired, Recently elected Mayor of Montclair Township and avid cyclist, Liza Betz, Planner for Union County, and Micahel Dannemiller, NJ-East Cost Greenway volunteer and Senior Planner for the RBA group. Each member of the pannel brought very interesting information and opinions to the table. Here is a brief summary of each panelists talking points.

Jerry Fried got involved in politics through his organization, Bike Montclair. He shared with us how he sees biking as a way to create a more intimate community within his township. Mayor Fried shared some of his ideas for promoting bicycling, such as a Township wide bike day in early spring, making biking less intimidating by avoiding spandex (something in direct conflict with me and my wardrobe, but a good idea), and a a scavenger hunt throughout town pitting car vs. bike (showing township members can get around town much faster on a bike).

Liza Betz is a planner for Union County and took us through the steps her department has taken to increase bikeability in Union County. One major focus of her talk was creating an extensive bike map for Union County residents so that they have a way of knowing what bike routes are safe, as well as what bike routes and improvements will be made in the future.

Michael Dannemiller primarily discussed the completion and NJ-NY connection of the East Coast Greenway (ECG), a trail running from Maine to Florida. Michael talked about all the improvements to the ECG, and how supportive the local and NJ state government organizations have been of the ECG, building a multimillion dollar bridge to connect the ECG over a major highway.

After leaving the Common Grounds Seminar, I felt optimistic about the future of cycling in New Jersey. With the passion, motivation, and skill of the presenters and attendees of the seminar, I think bicycling will continue to grow as a way to connect people and communities in New Jersey.

On October 29th, transportation experts from accross New Jersey traveled to the Edward J Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers Universtiy for the Voorhees Transportation Center’s Common Grounds Leadership Seminars on walkability and bikeablity. The morning seminar on walkability and the afternoon session on bikeability were both conducted in a similar format, introduction to the material, a keynote speaker, a guest speaker panel, and an open forum. The keynote speaker for both seminars was Michael Ronkin, of Designing Streets for Pedestrians and Bicyclists and an expert on street design. Mr. Ronkin went through several different theories as to how to make neighborhood streets can be made more bike and pedestrian friendly. One underlying theme that I took away from Mr. Ronkin’s talks was the less-is-more philosophy of road re-development. We often think that roads must be repaved and widen to accomidate pedestrians and bicyclists. However, what Mr. Ronkins showed was that by simply restriping many major roads, the can me made extremely accominadating for cyclists. What also supprised me was that Mr. Ronkins was not in favor of “Share the Road” signs, as they distract both cyclists and drivers. Also, Mr. Ronkins did not think residential roads should be stripped as studies have shown that if local roads are strippedĀ for cyclists, cars will travel faster and pinch cyclists against parked cars. These are just a few nuggets of info that Mr. Ronkins provided the audience in his wonderful lectures. My next post will be regarding the exceptional panel we had for the bikeability forum in the afternoon.

Common Grounds Flyer

Posted by: bikenwalk | November 11, 2008

The Statistics of Cycling

If these facts don’t even make you consider getting out on a bike, I don’t know what will.

Stats from Bikes Belong:

-Bicycling brings more than $1 billion to the Colorado state economy

-Bicyclists in the northern Outer Banks region of North Carolina bring an estimated $60 million annually to the area’s economy, nearly nine times the one-time expenditure of $6.7 million of public funds to construct bicycle facilities in the region.

-The benefits of investments in cycle networks are estimated to be at least 4-5 times the costs, making such investments more beneficial to society than other transport alternatives.

Posted by: bikenwalk | November 11, 2008

Bikes Belog: But not in Jersey

Bikes Belong is an orgnization that has taken on the the simple yet daughnting goal of increasing the number of bikers by supporting groups throughout the country that want to increase bikability in their area. I thought this was really great and wanted to highlight a local project in Jersey that has worked with Bikes Belong. However, when I went to the Bikes Belong Grant Page and looked at the map of previous grant recipients, the S-shaped which most call New Jersey, and I call home, was void of any grant recipients. The most densly populated, and arguably the most heavily trafficked, state in the nation has not had a single project to increase its bike ridership. I hope that in the coming months one of the organizations I am working with, or another brave bike crew along the NJ Turnpike, will take the lead and put New Jersey bicycling on the map!

To read more about Bikes Belog click here

To view the map of Bikes Belong Grant recipients click here

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