Date: 01/14/10 8:31 pm
I do my winter riding in Toronto, where the streets are less snow-packed than Ottawa. That being said;
- I'm trying this winter on fixed gear. Hipster points aside, having braking power without worrying about brakes getting clogged is great.
- If fixed gear isn't your thing, single speed is also great. Derailleurs are a nightmare once they get gummed up. The more minimal the bike, the less maintenance.
- Oil your chain!
- Wipe off any salt build up ASAP. Keep moving parts (brake springs, shifters, etc) well-oiled.
- Oil your chain! (This needs to be said twice.)
- Some people like thick, knobby tires (cyclocross or mountain, depending on what you ride). Some go all out and get studded tires (which you can DIY with some old knobbies, lots of screws, and then a thick liner to protect your tube from the screw heads).
Many, myself included, stick to high-pressure skinny road slicks, which cut through the slush and grab under the pavement. I freely admit that any uneven terrain (hard-packed snow, mostly) is much trickier handling on the road tires. I don't see this too much in Toronto, your results may vary in Ottawa. I tried switching to a thinly treaded 28mm tire from my slicks, but the clearance on my bike is tight, and slush was dragging the wheel against the brakes. Check your clearances and see what your bike will allow.
- Full coverage fenders! Again, check the clearances so that snow doesn't pack up.
- Dress like you're skiing. I thought it was overkill, but now I swear by goggles and a snowboard helmet. Keeps your face much warmer and prevents drippy sinuses. A headband and a bandana under a normal bike helmet is perfectly warm.
- I wear my usual ski jacket, and wool gloves. Dedicated winter biking gloves in the <$40 range are either not warm enough, or don't breathe at all and will give you cold, clammy hands within three minutes of putting them on.
- Snowboarding pants are bulky, but are the warmest things available, and will keep you dry. I hold off on wearing them, and long johns or bike tights under rolled up jeans still kept me reasonable warm biking in -25 weather.
- You might want to protect your face when it's bitterly cold with a balaclava or face mask, but the condensation sucks. Lots of people wear scarves, but they never stay in place for me.
- I wear my usual winter hiking boots, with big plastic toe clips. Does the job.
- For maximum dorkitude, keep two sets of lights if you ride at night. Batteries will freeze, and having a backup is crucial. It's also beneficial to run two sets in sloppy conditions.
- Take your turns slowly. It's when you're turning that you're most likely to lose traction, so go wide and slow.
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Date: 01/15/10 10:43 am
Yeah bro I did them myself, guy.
The Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Elephants, Froggies, Turtles, Apes, Raccoons, Beetles, Ants, Sharks, Bears, and, of course, the Squirrels.
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