Monday, January 4, 2010

Do Your Worst

Here are a couple shots from yesterday's 40 miles of packed snow, ice and gravel. Ride time temperatures ranged from 4 to 12 F. Perhaps due to the cold, Kevin's bike wouldn't shift and I flatted.

Yet, despite these trials and tribulations, we still managed to have a good ride.

Do your worst, Old Man Winter. I'm ready for you.

Shim and Limpach in the distance. Look at those snow banks!

Even in the grips of winter, a throw down ensues

What say you, Old Man Winter? Is that all you've got?!?


  1. I'm not convinced that was you. Prove it. ;-)

    Who won the prime?

  2. That's no ninja behind that mask. It's me, Bob.

    C'mon Munson, get a grip. Next time: have a bowl of hot steel-cut oats with brown sugar and raisins. Wash it down with a steaming cup of black coffee. Apply multiple layers and use toe warmers. Don't forget the balaclava and glove liners.

    Now what was a little dicey for me was riding on a 23cc slick front tire. I had a 32cc normal cross tire on the back for traction, but that front tire felt like I was on a dull hockey skate at times. Still, I managed.

    BTW: I believe you have studded tires. Hence, you don't have an excuse. So, as @bredemske often tweets, "GO GO GO!"

  3. I was thinking of riding because the roads were "open", but no bail out and did not want to slide out.

    Ya'll are crazy.

    I hope you rode the cross bike

  4. Sounds like a fun ride. What was it like to ride for a couple of hours in that temperature? Did you do anything special for the hands?

    What kind of pace did you keep on snow packed gravel at 10 degrees?

    Now that you have the Madone, I'm sure you'll have plenty more iced gravel road adventures.

  5. I rode the incorrigible yellow fervor, Murphini. When I get around to it, I'll put the cross tire back on the front. I opted for the slick b/c the cross tire was rubbing on the fender. That, and I'm following a theory that while a rear knobby is good for traction, a front slick tire offers better handling than the squarish knobby does. That may be true on wet streets, but the debate is still open on packed snow and ice.

    Riding into headwind wasn't great, but dressing appropriately helped. I started the ride with just the balaclava on my head & face under the helmet. After a few miles, I added a knit skull cap on over the balaclava. The hat brought much improvement for the head. My hands & feet were surprisingly fine. I wore liners beneath the Pearl Isumi lobster claw mittens, and I the chemical toe warmers prolly helped on the feet beneath the PI Amfib booties. The legs were covered with cycling shorts beneath PI Amfib bib tights. The torso was covered with a wicking base layer, a woolie and PI barrier jacket. Had I done it again, I would have worn the ski goggles over my eyes. But I was too afraid that Shim was going to make fun of me, so I left them in the car and suffered icicles embedded in my crows feet. My ego was warm and toasty.

    It may appear that I'm pushing Pearl Isumi stuff. So be it. For winter riding, they make *quality stuff that's relatively affordable. (* booty zippers are crap.)

    I'd say our average was around 16 mph. Lots of steady pace, with a few spirited charges mixed in. We were forced to stop once for maintenance (flat).

  6. Brady - reminds me of riding my faded creme/maroon Columbia bike (which I bought from Ronnie Brown for $8 pickle proceeds) to school during those Wisconsin Winters. We'd put a few ties of wire around the rear tire for better traction. It was fun to spit and hear the ice ball ricochet off the handle bars. And those were the good old days. 'Ol Dad

  7. Dad: Was your Columbia bike like this?

  8. On Columbia bike image: Brady, not quite - that model is definitely an upgrade. Mine did have a tank and light. Batteries cost 25 cents and would last about an hour. (flashlight batteries "D" series not yet known). I soon gave up on the light. No carrier either, simple chain guard, and had painted fenders. I'll bet mine was that color originally. Sadly, I don't recall what happened to that bike. "Ol Dad

  9. So, what sort of bikes/tires did you use for those conditions? Fenders? For snow-packed gravel, my choices are pretty much 28's with fenders or a mountain bike. Recommendations?


  10. That's great stuff, Dad, and fully qualifies for the WSCG Seal of Approval. I can picture you pedaling down County Hwy 171 after a steaming bowl of steel-cut (Irish) oats, firing frozen snot rockets at will.

    Hi Chris G: on that particular ride, I rode a Scattante cyclo-cross bike with fenders mounted above a 32cc Ritchey SpeedMax Cyclocross Pro Tire on the rear and a 23cc slick on the front. As noted previously, the slick on the front is an on-going experiment to see if the greater surface contact area of a slick tire improves handling in the winter than a squarish knobby cross tire. In packed snow/icy conditions, I'm not convinced. The others rode standard cross bikes and 32cc tires (unsure of brands nor tire pressure). They seemed to have better control with the 32cc on front than I did without. They are also both more experienced riders than I am, which could have played a part.

    Lots of commuters I know swear by the studded tires for traction in these conditions. Some other reader may want to offer their experience here as I've never ridden on studded tires.

    Next gravel ride, I'll take the time to adjust the front fender and ride the 32cc for a comparison. I'll also reduce both tires pressure to no greater than 40psi.

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  12. OK, first there wasn't really a prime, although I wish someone would have told Kevin. You see the thing about these conditions is this, the harder you go the more wind you create and the colder you get, no matter how hard you go, you can't offset the frigid air temps, so you just keep making it worse. My objective after the first 40 minutes or so was to find the optimal tempo to maximize body heat. On this particular ride I never found that happy place.

    As for the right tire choice, on this issue Brady is pretty much clueless. The cross tires Kevin and I were using not only have a much bigger contact point, the difference between a knobbed tire and a slick one on anything other than ideal paved road conditions, please! I told Brady this two months ago, but he is a seeker, and so he keeps on seeking.

    I am intrigued by John's idea of using wire to make your own studded tire. Maybe the art of the wired stud could be a future WSCG post?

  13. I'm a complete noob in cycling, having become an all-season utility and commuter cyclist primarily (and recreational cyclist secondarily) for only two years, but I really like my studded tires.

    It could be all in my head, since I've never tried riding on serious snow and ice on anything less than a 35mm studded tire, but I really feel like I've got positive traction in almost all conditions. Loosely packed snow, especially drifts or wakes in intersections, can make steering squirrelly, but overall, I've found snow riding not unlike riding in loose gravel.

    During the Bike De'Lights ride in December, I did ride a smooth 25mm tire along some neighborhood streets that still had snow on them. Reduced speed and caution seemed to keep the bike upright.

    I see my Nokian tires as an investment. The bike shop said I'll wear down the rubber before I wear out the 105 carbide studs on each tire. Last year I used a cheaper Innova studded tire and had worn the regular steel studs down in a single season.

    As far as "do you worst," I think Old Man Winter might have done that already, at least from a commuting perspective. -16F or so seems to be the low that we had this week. It might be lower in Saturday morning, but I won't be riding in it. Things are going to get messy... really messy when temps climb above freezing and start to melt off this stuff. I predict then, with overnight freezing, we're going to see a lot of smooth ice on the roads. For that, I'm glad I have my studs.

  14. It sounds like, if I wanted to ride with current equipment, I should stick to the MTB, but I'd miss the fenders, especially when it starts to get sloppy next week.

    If I was going to buy something, I don't have room for knobby (or studded or otherwise) 32's AND fenders on my road bike.

    Maybe I should get some fenders for the MTB.

    Thanks for all the input, everyone!


    P.S. My mother has informed me that I'm getting snowshoes for my birthday next week. Yay!