It is officially time to retire my red bike for the winter.
We have had our first taste of wintertime this week, I don’t know if it is here to stay, but the weather (and the roads) is too unpredictable for the bike’s skinny, slick tires. When I left my house one morning this week, the roads seemed fine, but as I headed towards work (lower in elevation, oddly enough) things started to get really slick. Slick enough that I walked my bike the last little bit. That same day we got our first dusting of snow in the city (a couple of cm). So I ended up walking my bike home. Last time I fell off my bike I broke my arm. I’d rather not repeat that.
Enter my new, to me, winter bike! I started casually looking for a used winter bike in September and found one the fit the bill right away. So what makes for a good winter bike? Studded tires are a must. And you have to make sure that there are studs up on the sidewalls of the tires too (or you’ll wipe out going around turns). It is also preferable to use an older bike as a winter bike given the salty roads and then inevitable rust you will encounter.
I have no picture of said bike because it is dark when I leave my house in the morning, and again dark well before I return… But it is grey. With a little bit of yellow.
My new bike works pretty well (I did a little bii of bike work on it – and by I, I really mean ME! I did it, myself – with some help of course, and some YouTube guidance). I’ve ridden it a few times and I’m timid but generally felt safe riding on the icy roads thus far. Hopefully I’ll get more confident with time/miles. Although now I realize how easy I had it on my red bike with it’s slick tires and light frame. I have to work twice as hard to ride just as fast with the new-old bike!
It has yet to be seen if I will become a full-time winter bike rider. Biking is so much faster than walking to work (10-12 minutes versus 30-35). And both faster and cheaper than taking the bus (8 minute walk, wait for a few minutes, pay $5 to ride for 6 minutes, 10 minute walk). Numerous people have told me that they feel safer riding with studded tires on ice than walking, although they probably aren’t using spikes on their shoes like I do. The most dangerous part is getting off the bike and then stepping onto the ice. I am not sure how practical it is to wear spikes on my shoes while riding my bike – I could see spiked shoes getting caught in pedals and leading to disaster, but we will see.
One thing is for certain – no one is going to run over my hands! (Note, despite being labeled “winter gloves,” these suckers do not keep my hand warm if it is below freezing. I’m now on the hunt for something else that will do the job.)