Monday, 8 February 2010

Winter Biking

Well, I have actually got into the winter biking thing and pedalled over 230 km since December on the winter bike with the studded tires.

The Winter Bike

Most of my riding is around the communities of Bridlewood and Glen Cairn on the neighbourhood collector roads which are usually always clear. Lately due to the lack of snow even the side streets have been easily rideable.

The cold has been somewhat of a challenge, as biking adds about an extra 15 km/hr wind chill, so my rides have typically been limited to 15-20 kilometres.

I have to say that I am quite pleased and somewhat surprised at how well the cheap Supercycle performs, even the gears are shifting well despite the cold and slush, although I have been bringing the bike inside every week or so to clean and lube. I've been using pretty heavy lube - lithium grease and chain saw bar oil, which I am pretty sure would get the bike clogged up with gunk from the trails in the summer, but it seems to help protect from the salt and slush in the winter.

The studded tires are also fantastic. When I first started riding them I would look for every piece of ice I could to test them on. The other day I was over on some new subdivision roads where they have not been working in the winter and found lots of ice to tool around on and it was like riding on bare pavement.

The only problem with the cheap bike is the lack of suspension on some of the hard packed walking trails that are not cleared (gravel rather than pavement underneath) and even though they don't look so bad you can really feel the bumpiness without suspension so I don't usually last very long on those sections.

The actual forest trails are much smoother than that, and due to the recent trail conditions I was actually able to ride a few times on the Old Quarry Trail where the snow is packed enough that I just rode along top without sinking in, and wide enough I could ride alongside the ski tracks where there were any. Even people walking the trails are not sinking in. Other trail users seemed more amused than anything and I often stopped to chat with them. One asked me if I was patrolling the trail, probably because I had my yellow reflective vest on that I wear to be certain to be seen in traffic.

A Typical Ride on The Winter Bike (click to enlarge)

I am still looking forward to the new biking season and getting out on the good bikes but the winter bike is at least keeping me pedalling and it will be something to ride in the spring until they stop dumping bike-killing salt on the roads and paths.

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