Icy roads? No problem for biking and running

With the reductions in municipal snow removal, the streets have been a bit of an icy mess for a while, but that’s no excuse for not continuing to bike and run.

My winter bike has Nokian Extreme tires with steel carbide studs he got them from a tire services. They’re not needed all winter long, but they work great on icy roads.

And winter biking is often in low-light or darkness, which makes it difficult to see all of the icy spots.  The Nokians add a layer of confidence that if you do hit the ice, you won’t hit the deck.

For running, I’ve added 11 sheet metal screws to the tread of an old pair of Nikes. The screws are short enough to not poke through. So far I haven’t lost a screw but I sure have worn some down.

There still is a little bit of slippage with these shoes when pushing off hard on the ice. I think a few more screws in the lower-forefoot might solve that.

Robert’s Winter Rides in Metro Detroit

Robert Herriman has posted the winter ride series for 2010/2011. Those events are now displayed on www.allyeargear.com in the left sidebar.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Robert takes attendance and awards points to each rider. The colder it is, the more points you get for that ride. Night rides get bonus points. You also get extra points if you’re on a singlespeed bicycle.

This points competition is a clever means to motivate cyclists to ride, especially in the worst of conditions (more points!).

All are welcomed, but be forewarned that the pace is generally brisk.

Windsor Winter Ride Challenge Series

img_2021The Winter Ride Challenge Series has gone international.

Last Sunday I did the Windsor version.  The points scoring is similar except that they measure their temperatures in celsuis like the rest of the world.  

I rode my singlespeed winter bike but I’d brought a knife to gun fight.  Most everyone was on geared cyclocross bikes.   I had no problem hanging with the group at 18 MPH, but then the attacks started.  The pace was pushed to over 21 MPH and I didn’t have the gearing for that.

So, I dropped off the back and made my own ride by heading north to the river and admiring all the work Windsor has done to make biking easier and safer with bike lanes, trails, signage and more.

For those thinking about heading over for the ride, you will have to pay some tolls at the bridge ($4) or tunnel ($3.75).   Make sure you bring your identification as well.

The City of Windsor does have a bike map on their web site.  It’s difficult to print and use, so you want to pick up a copy at a Windsor bike shop instead.

Betting on the Bank Thermometer

Photo by Robert Herriman

Photo by Robert Herriman

Tonight was ride #36 of Robert’s Winter Ride Challenge  Series.

I had to go.  Robert awards points based on temperatures.  The colder it is, the more points you get.    My points had me in 9th place and I couldn’t afford to miss out on these points and drop in the rankings.

The ride started rough.  I was late and a had a slow motion crash on my way to the ride.  I turned too tight on smooth, dry concrete and the studded front tire just slipped out.  No biggie.

Though I missed the pre-ride photograph, I did make the ride, biked 21 miles,  and got 120 points.

On this particular night, we’d started the ride by going past the local bank thermometer.  It read 8F.  Before we got near that same sign on the return, Alex Dolpp and I guessed at the new temperature.

He guessed 5F and I guessed 6F.

As we rode up to the sign, it flashed 6F and Alex gave his congratulations.  Within 50 feet of the sign, it changed to 5F, which was good for a laugh.

According to Robert, the lowest recorded wind chill during the ride was -5F.

There was Challenge in the Series tonight.

Avoiding Cold Feet on the Bike

img_1976I made a change recently in my footwear and it’s really made an improvement in keeping my feet warm.

To begin, I wear a very thin synthetic sock as the base layer.

Next is a Patagonia Insulator sock, which is made from 2mm neoprene with sealed seams.  These socks are made for fly fishing, but they work well for cycling because they are waterproof (a vapor barrier) and fit relatively snug.  Best of all they can be rinsed clean rather than washed.  Hopefully this translates into a very long life.

The outer sock is a thick synthetic Patagonia sock, though I don’t recall the name.  Most anything would work here, including wool, so long as it can stretch over the neoprene.

Of course I can’t wear my normal shoe size with this much insulation on my feet, so I wear size 13.5 Lake winter cycling shoes rather than my normal 9.5s.

I could also throw in a chemical heater outside of the neoprene, but it hasn’t been necessary.  I recently rode 15 miles in -20F windchill and my toes only felt a slight but sustainable level chilliness.

I had been using SealSkinz socks, which work well.  The problem is they have a soft lining material that absorbs odor and requires washing.  After using them for a year or so, the socks are no longer waterproof like they once were.

Link: More information on keeping your feet warm while biking

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