Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Storm Hercules Report (or: How to Ride a Bike in Winter)

Do you live and/or work in Stamford? There's still time to take the Stamford Share the Road survey! And don't forget to attend the January 7th meeting at the Government Center to defend bike lanes!

If you're a cyclist in New England, winter can be especially disempowering. So much so, I recommend you travel to Ottawa to watch the Canadians ride around town as though they aren't even aware it is snowing.

But if you do go out, especially on a day when a winter storm is treating the region like a baseball bat treats a mailbox, there are a few things you can to do as a precaution.

First, you must dress like Snake Eyes from the 1980s G.I. Joe cartoon. You want to appear catlike and have no exposed skin. If you plan to take photographs - selfies or otherwise - be sure to use a waterproof housing, like the one my grandmother gave me for my Canon Elph.


Then, select a bike from your fleet (assuming you have a fleet) that is most suitable for winter travel.


Now this of course is my snowbike; the driving wheel is from a kit made by KtraK I bought a few years ago. It came with a front ski to replace the front wheel but I decided to try using the front wheel from the mountain bike I built since the plows had been by.

While the bike does function differently from others in the snow, the usual rules apply. The first rule is: go slowly.


Also, watch out for cars even more than usual since people can't see or stop very well. Granted, that is almost always the case anyway, but still.

Next, if you insist on taking photographs in a snowstorm, you may be forced to take your hand out of the glove so you can press the shutter button. Put your hand back into the glove as quickly as possible and be very aware the the high winds may knock your bike down just as you're taking a picture of, say, West Beach in Stamford.


Finally, when you get home - on a snowbike or any other kind of transport, be sure to clean the bike as much as possible. Yes, as if winter couldn't be any more irritating: even when the roads are clear, the sand, salt, grit, grime and other dirty things cling to your bike thanks to the wet roads.

Now cleaning the bike off has the unfortunate side effect of making the floor dirty, so I recommend buying a few of the inexpensive plastic Dexter Morgan-style drop cloths.


Spread one on the floor, clean a bike or two, and it's like nothing ever happened.


You can also put your bike on rollers or a trainer and save yourself a lot of trouble. You can also go to a place like Exhale in Stamford to take a spin class. But I know, I know: there's nothing like a ride outdoors. My Friday rides are usually about 20 miles. On the snow bike today, with temperatures flirting with the single digits and drifting snow, I managed two. I'll keep this up as much as possible and will continue looking forward to spring while I work on some new builds. Stay warm and safe, and as always: thanks for reading and thanks for riding.

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