Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Mattheq » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:47 am

Decided to take a second commute ride tonight while it was raining to simulate (sort of) commuting in the winter. I thought this would be a good idea to see what deficiencies I have in my current set up/kit so I can address them before the we weather really starts. Rain was on the light side of moderate according to the Bureau of Meteorlogy Radar Viewer (more uses than just seeing if you should bring the washing in!)

Main Practice Run Findings:
  • Have to ride slower because braking time increases - allow more time to get to work
  • PSP stands for Principal Shared Puddles (at least it does along the route I take)
  • I swear buses actually aim for the puddles next to the bike path - I got absolutely drenched by one bus (like in the movies, but wetter and colder)
  • Cleats are soaked through. No way they will be dry for tomorrow - good thing showers are forecast!
  • Gloves got very loose and slippery, causing some control 'issues'
  • Sand through front derailleur - had some shifting problems on the return leg
  • Cassette very noisy on the return leg - needs another lube - only 300km since the last lube
  • Current lights will be no good when it's dark at 5:30pm
  • Would need to get anti-fog wipes for glasses (can't use contacts)
  • Backpack with built-in rain coat worked really well. I'd recommend a Black Wolf Titanium backpack
  • Netti Icon jersey probably wouldn't be warm enough, but the reflectors down the shoulders are good for being seen in the dark
  • I'm thinking long nix would be better than shorts :|

In hindsight, I don't think this practice run was well thought out, or a very good idea! I can't say that I'm looking forward to winter now!

Does anyone have any useful tips for winter commuting that they care to share?


Cheers,

Matthew
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by BNA » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:22 am

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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby RobertFrith » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:22 am

Mattheq wrote:Does anyone have any useful tips for winter commuting that they care to share?

I find it pretty hard to stay dry for much more than 10k, feet, hands and back of neck are first to go. All downhill from there. I don't mind being wet so much as cold. Feet seem to suffer most. Mostly though, if you're in Perth, you'll get hot from being sealed inside your wet weather gear.

Mudguards help.
Washing the bike, particularly the braking surfaces for non disc bikes helps.
Rohloff hub helps.
Panniers help. Especially if you have a towel and a dry set of clothes in them.
Maintaining a sense of wonder at the people trapped in cars denying themselves an amazing experience usually helps. If that's not working a sense of resignation will come in handy :D
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby HappyHumber » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:02 am

I enjoyed the ride home today... solid heavier drizzle (wouldn't flatter it too much by calling a shower) for the whole hour or so home. Quite blissful along the Roe H'way PSP. The route to work was more on backstreets, but the small amount of traffic and amount of oily suds swilling around in the water was a little disconcerting. Ride for the conditions; remember brake fade in the wet if you're running caliper or v-brakes.

+1 for Mudguards. They don't help much for when the rain is continuous, but sure help when you the road is wet, but the sky otherwise clear above. Avoid that nasty skid mark up your back and they also go toward keeping crap out of your drivetrain.

+1 for Panniers. I invested in some Ortleib Backrollers mid last year, and today was my first personal test of their reknowned water proofness. I wasn't lied to :)

I also ride a Fixed gear, but a single speed would also acheive a simpler drivetrain for cleaning purposes. Yes, not as versatile as the Rohloff as Robert suggests but nowhere near as exxy either. Shimano and SRAM (I think) make other internally geared hub alternatives for a less exposed & lower maintenance drivetrain.

The fixed gear also gave me the contingency being able to modulate my speed with my legs, where the caliper pads on the rims rapidly gave up the ghost after the first two puddles. You can be continually dusting them as you go to try and keep them dry, but as long as there's some moisture on them performance is significantly less.


But other than.. every one's routine evolves depending on your luck with facilities at work etc.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Comedian » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:24 am

+1 Mudguards
+1 Panniers

Shoe covers only delay the inevitable. When you get home pack your shoes with news paper and pop them in the dryer on a shoe rack for a few minutes. Alternatively, look at acquiring spd sandals from keen. :)
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Oxford » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:38 am

yes SPD sandals are great in Brisbane's weather and beats having wet socks flapping around your ankles.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby goneriding » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:27 am

I've gone the reverse for riding in the wet by going for a minimal clothing set (knicks with a thin chamois and short sleeve jersey no gloves) rather than trying to waterproof myself. I figure you are only going to get wet once and your clothes have a better chance of getting dry at work. As far as getting the shoes dry is concerned initially I pack in as much paper as I can and tighten all the straps. After a couple of hours I replace all the paper, this time loosely, and finally remove all the paper and open the shoes right up. That seems to get them dry enough to get wet again on the ride home!

The cold is another story. Base layer, long sleeve jersey/arm warmers, leg warmers, long finger gloves, etc.

Cold and wet - you're going to be putting on wet clothes unless you take spares (definitely socks)!
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby HappyHumber » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:22 am

oh yeah.. after the tangents of my previous post

+1 to decent lights too..... and visibility, visibility, visibility.....

Depending on your hours and when you ride - I used get complacent during the summer months with the longer days and forget how simple a necessity theses things can be. Winter creeps up on you with the short days - and blammo, there you are with no or crap lights to get home in the pitch black; trying to suppress memories of all the times you swore under your breath at someone on a bike in a similar siutation when you were behind the wheel of car.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:31 pm

Mattheq wrote:Main Practice Run Findings:
[list][*]Have to ride slower because braking time increases - allow more time to get to work

Get some better brake pads. I use Koolstop salmons and don't find a whole lot of problems in this regard.

Mattheq wrote:[*]Cleats are soaked through. No way they will be dry for tomorrow - good thing showers are forecast!

In winter, stuff the shoes with balled newspaper and place them on your heating duct. Dries overnight, and don't lose shape.

Mattheq wrote:[*]Cassette very noisy on the return leg - needs another lube - only 300km since the last lube

Purple Extreme :D

Mattheq wrote:[*]Current lights will be no good when it's dark at 5:30pm

Busch & Muller IQ Cyo with a dynamo or Schmidt dynohub.

Mattheq wrote:[*]Netti Icon jersey probably wouldn't be warm enough, but the reflectors down the shoulders are good for being seen in the dark

Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket is great, but I really need their Storm Pants too.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:36 pm

HappyHumber wrote:I also ride a Fixed gear, but a single speed would also acheive a simpler drivetrain for cleaning purposes. Yes, not as versatile as the Rohloff as Robert suggests but nowhere near as exxy either. Shimano and SRAM (I think) make other internally geared hub alternatives for a less exposed & lower maintenance drivetrain.

For most of metro Perth the Shimano Alfine 8 will be fine - a Rohloff would really only be needed if you have to climb to Kalamunda.


Oh yes, +1 to mudguards and use a mudflap on the front to keep your shoes drier.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby queequeg » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:25 am

My winter wet weather riding gear consists of:

* SKS Chromoplastic Mudguards (full length) - Essential. Even in a torrential downpour, they keep all the mud off you and your gear (except your shoes - see Overshoes!)
* Endura Gridlock Rain Jacket - 100% Waterproof, will keep you toasty warm in freezing rain. You'll still get "wet" from sweat, but you do stay warm.
* Gore-Tex Overshoes (Gore Bike Wear City or MTB) - 100% Waterproof, keep your shoes clean and dry. Note: Water can enter from below where your cleats are, and can also dribble down your leg and into your socks, so you need to a) use waterproof socks like SealSkinz, b) If wearing long knicks, put the knicks over the Overshoes so that water doesn't dribble down your leg, c) in torrential rain, before putting the overshoes on, wrap your shoes in some plastic shopping bags.
* Gore-Tex Helmet Cover - stops the ice cold rain from dribbling through the vents in your helmet and then down your face and neck
* Full Length Fleece lined knicks, with "Rain Legs" over the top
* Under the rain jacket, a sleeveless baselayer (the jacket is warm enough without needing more than the baselayer)

In terms of other gear on the bike, I have:
* Lights - AyUp on the front, plus a little Knog Beetle LED Blinky as a backup. On the rear, a Planet Bike SuperFlash plus a Knog Skink as a backup.
* Koolstop dual-Compound brake pads give excellent stopping power in the wet
* Ortlieb 100% Waterproof Panniers - I have never had any water get through these, and I have ridden in torrential rain.

For eyewear, sadly there is not much you can do. I wear clean lenses to keep the rain from stinging my eyes, but you have to wipe the water off from time to time, and they will fog up every time you stop moving.

I know it sounds like a lot of gear, but the reality is that most of it is on the bike in dry weather anyway, so in my panniers I always carry the rain jacket/overshoes/helmet cover/rain legs. These all fold up and fit into a couple of small packing cells that sit at the bottom of one of my panniers. That way, I never get caught out with the weather.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby il padrone » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:53 am

queequeg wrote:* Gore-Tex Helmet Cover - stops the ice cold rain from dribbling through the vents in your helmet and then down your face and neck

It'd be nice but for just $3.50 I have found remarkable service from........... a shower-cap :mrgreen:

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Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Comedian » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:59 am

Can I say that the weather applications for your iPhone with weather radar have been remarkably effective at keeping me dry ;)
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby goneriding » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:34 pm

Comedian wrote:Can I say that the weather applications for your iPhone with weather radar have been remarkably effective at keeping me dry ;)


Is there a heating app on the iPhone or one that creates a bubble around you to keep the rain away? Oh wait, there is, the collected works of Steve Jobs, about Steve Jobs, narrated by Steve Jobs only available on iTunes!

Sorry :oops: , couldn't resist
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Mattheq » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:09 pm

Thanks for all the replies. Gives me a pretty good base to start with, and certainly seems like LBS will be gaining more of my hard-earned, although I don't think they sell shower caps :roll:

I think lights are the most important - better to be wet and seen than under a motorised vehicle. After that the Purple Extreme (cheaper than a new bike or drive train), then wet weather gear.

Cheers,

Matthew
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:28 am

An easily forgotten given, at any time of the year, but with some the chance of nasty accidents up in winter, relevant here:

  • Carry a functioning mobile phone.
  • I also have a sticker affixed to my seat tube (my ONLY tube actually!) stating name, age, principal doctor, next-of-kin, blood group, that I have no known reactions to medicines etc, and have no chronics infectious diseases and that I am a willing organ donor.

A couple of supermarket plastic bags and a couple of lacky bands can be useful too.
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby jules21 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:31 pm

i think queequeg has a pretty exhaustive list there. i'll offer some more budget suggestions:
1. a couple of layers of lycra, with full length tights are sufficient for me to stay warm in cold melbourne mornings, as long as i'm pushing hard enough. lycra is not waterproof like goretex but it's a lot cheaper and i actually don't mind getting wet, as long as i'm rugged up enough to stay warm. also - wear bright colours, i have a fluoro orange t-shirt.
2. i have a cheap pair of overshoes - again these aren't waterproof but they're remarkably effective, unless you ride through a puddle but nothing will keep your feet wet in that circumstance.
3. reflective ankle slap wraps are highly effective means of improving your visibility - for $8 these are unbeatable value.
4. think about attaching other reflectors - front, rear and wheel versions. again, these are very effective at improving your visibility. no one will mistake you for a euro-pro, but frankly what's more important? the number of euro-pro wannabes i see riding around in black cervelo gear with no hi-vis equipment makes me shake my head.
5. lights - you need them. do not settle for a low output front flasher - get a proper LED headlight. the brighter the better - i have a 120 lumen NiteRider which isn't as good as other more spendy options, but is still effective.
6. i don't wear glasses in the wet - i find moisture obscures my vision through them. you can wipe them, but they're more of a hindrance than a help, in my view (no pun).
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Aushiker » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:50 am

jules21 wrote:6. i don't wear glasses in the wet - i find moisture obscures my vision through them. you can wipe them, but they're more of a hindrance than a help, in my view (no pun).


Hi

I don't have much choice (prescription and I can't wear contacts) but I find wearing a cycling cap under my helmet makes a real difference. They are really good at keeping the rain off my glasses. Surprisingly effective actually.

There is also a really good video out about how dry your clothes (the one where you roll your jersey up in a towel) but I cannot find it. Anyone know the video I am referring to? It was made by a cyclist that rids for one the lesser teams, the teams without all the support.

Andrew
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Re: Winter Commuting - Practice Run and Call for Ideas

Postby Mugglechops » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:55 pm

This is real winter commuting.

Winter in the US

For my winter commuting I wear a long sleeve merino wool top and a windproof gillet and baggy shorts. It doesn't really get cold enough to wear anymore.

I have a clear set of glasses and a rain jacket for when its wet
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