Tag Archive: winter

Snow! (and studded tires)

Yesterday I awoke to 25-degrees and snow. Luckily Chicago didn’t have any measurable amount of the white stuff, but it was enough to blow around on the pavement and set the tone for wintry weather to come.


By the time I rode home the roads were completely clear, but as I approached a red traffic light and a fellow cyclist, I heard the recognizable chatter of studded tires on dry pavement. When we stopped, I had to verify that my ears weren’t deceiving me, “Do you have studded tires on your bike already?” Of course he did! His preferred tire? Nokian brand tires from a company in Finland. He seemed very confident in his decisions – both in brand and in having mounted them on his bike already.

My friend Dottie from LGRAB swears by her Schwalbe brand studded tires, which I’m sure will soon be back on her Oma for the winter.

So far I’ve managed to commute year-round in Chicago without studded tires, but each year about this time (when I see white snowflakes dancing through the air and patches of ice forming on the streets), I question whether or not they would be helpful. I am impressed by the seeming lack of rolling resistance that studded tires offer while on dry roads. Apparently the carbide studs used in today’s studded tires are much more durable than the steel studs manufacturers used to use. The bike commuter I met last night definitely rolled along at a speedy pace.

Questioning your own need for studded tires? Stay tuned… Our very own Just Ask Jack will soon be offering up more answers to your questions about studded tires.

The best gift of all

Today I rode my bike; ordinarily that statement would come as no surprise. But unfortunately for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been battling congestion, sore throats, fatigue – cold symptoms that just wouldn’t quit! – and I’ve not been riding.

On my final work day this week, I’m happy to report that I bike commuted. In the wind and sleet, I smiled all the way and enjoyed breathing in the crisp air. I wished I could just keep going.

It’s the best gift ever – not the ride – but the restored health so that I can ride.

Even the green machine got “dressed” up for the holidays, sporting a red and gold holiday bow from my mom.

Happy holidays!

Dutch Bikes tour California

Earlier this month De Fietsfabriek-USA packed up the truck in Chicago and hit the road heading west along Route 66. In October I wrote about their Grand Opening party.

During the trip so far they have passed through
Boulder, CO – Dec 3-5
Albuquerque, NM – Dec 7-8
Phoenix, AZ – Dec 9

And now they’ve reached southern California! So, for all of our bike commuters and bike lovers on the west coast, please look out for Jon Lind and his fleet of Dutch bikes.

He will have the bikes on display and available for test rides this Saturday – TODAY! – at Orange 20 Bikes (corner of Heliotrope and Melrose in east Hollywood) from noon until 6 pm.

Los Angeles, CA – Dec 11-20
San Diego, CA – Dec 21-26
San Francisco, CA – Dec 27-Jan 5

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.