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Tag Archive: winter riding

Nor wind, nor rain, nor snow, nor sleet… (but I’m no hero)

… we continue to prove that bike commuters ride through it all. Just on the news this morning, I heard that over 2/3 of the U.S. is experiencing wintry weather (especially the Midwest).

Last night’s commute home offered me a full wintry mix of conditions. First, the wind gave me a nice push; the wind coming out of the southeast provided a welcome push and facilitated pedaling through the slush quite nicely. Then the wet slushy snow flakes completely soaked me – at least my legs (still seeking better waterproof rain/winter pants). And finally sleet pricked my exposed cheeks.

winter slush

Luckily the temps remained in the upper 30s and kept the temperatures mild and and roads wet (and just a bit slushy) but no ice.

Today as the winds pick up and bring the freezing weather, many of us can expect blowing snow and blustery (likely icy) conditions.

Yesterday when I rode in, my co-worker called me a hero for riding in the snow. I’m no hero and I know when the conditions are too dangerous. I don’t want to be a hero. I’m just out to safely enjoy the ride.

Winterizing – the Green Machine Rides Again

This morning I fully intended to ride my regular commuter bike – El Toro (as I’ve deemed her) – with new narrower bullhorn handlebars and a new stem for better reach/height (more about the commuter fitting I got coming soon). However, a few snafus during the part swap led to El Toro taking a few days off and me putting the Green Machine (last year’s winter bike) back into service. Perfect timing, too, since flurries danced through the air as I rode to work.


Lincoln Avenue on a wintry weather morning - flurries in the air.

I know it’s winter in Chicago when the extra layers get added to the wardrobe and I take time to consider the bike choice (since last year I’ve chosen to ride the mountain bike in winter) and tire choice (should I add studded tires this year?).

In fact, with my extra winter layers on, I’ve been told I’m not recognizable by folks who never see me sporting the helmet, jacket, balaclava, gloves, boots, etc. The layering process is a post for another day, but wisely selected layers are invaluable.

My choice to switch to the Green Machine came after a couple of winters on my old ten-speed and doing some research on how other riders battled the elements. Ideally, I’d love a Pugsley, especially after reading about it on the blog Up in Alaska; if she can ride in Alaska, I can certainly ride through Chicago’s winter!

What bike do you ride in the foul elements? Anyone got experience with the studded tires and their effectiveness on snow/ice? Each year and each season I continue add to my arsenal and my knowledge as a bike commuter.

Advance Commuter Tip: Newspaper!

When I was a young pup, I couldn’t afford any type of winter clothing for cycling. So I resorted to using newspaper underneath my jersey as a way to keep warm during my rides. It was my step-brother that gave me this tip. He had seen pros do the same thing in old photos and videos of the Tour De France…back in the Eddy Merckx days.

What this does is soak up your sweat and prevent cold wind from touching your skin. All you have to do is fit a few pages on your front side(chest) and a couple more on your back. Generally, my legs don’t need them. But you can wrap sheets of paper around your thighs. Heck, if you want to impress the ladies, just stick a rolled up section down your shorts…

The only drawback to this technique…your skin will look like the Business Section of the paper. The ink gets absorbed and leaves an image of whatever was on the page you used. But don’t worry, it washes off!

My ears were so cold, they were hurting…


This morning’s ride hurt…it was about 40 degrees and my ears were aching from the cold brisk air….I don’t like putting on beanies under my helmet because I get schwetty and its too bulky. I was thinking of asking Randy to sew me up some custom made beanie that is thin enough to fit under my helmet, yet thick enough to keep my ears warm.

What do you use for your ears?