winter riding preparations

i don’t often write about riding my bike, which is sort of surprising, cause that’s what i do just about everyday.

i feel some need to clarify though, i ride cause i like to – not cause i’m dogmatic.  i like the fact that it reduces my carbon foot print, i like the fact that it costs less money to ride and maintain my bike, and i like the fact that it gets me exercise, but none of those are the real reason i ride my bike.  it’s cause it makes me happy.  i like riding bikes.  i find myself noticeable more irritable if i drive.  i also love that i can say hello to people i pass, that i can notice things that car drivers don’t, and i love the fact that i can fix my own bike, having a pretty solid idea of the ins and outs of basic bike mechanics.  most of all i like the mediation that it brings me, the rhythm of the pedaling takes over, and the bike feels like an extension of oneself and you can just focus on the ride and nothing else.  all of a sudden you are where you needed to go, having sort of lost time for a bit.

but back to the winter preparations.  biking in winter has its major disadvantages, not the least of which is the cold.  but with enough layers, and special attention paid to the extremities, i find it’s really only bad on days that drop below 20 degrees, and even that only until you get warmed up.

snow tends to be the major barrier for me, and while i still end up taking the bus on the snowiest of days, once the streets are “cleared” i’m back out.  a couple of additions to the bike have made for much more enjoyable winter riding.

this my friends is one of my true loves, my shogun 600.  it was not top of the line when it came out in the 80’s but it’s got mighty fine components, fits me really well and rides like a dream ( well actually i think that the bottom bracket needs to be rebuilt, but i’m gonna try to wait until after the winter grime and salt season).  i thought i had lost her once, but fortunately my friend ben was wise enough to steal her away from harms way.  eventually i plan to look into getting a touring bike that would be better for heavier cargo carrying, but she works great for my daily rides.

this winter i’ve finally added fenders – while better than nothing they don’t provide full coverage and still leave me pretty wet.  without braze on fender mounts i’m kind of limited in what fenders i can use – any recommendations of full fenders that would work with out braze ons, or other solutions would be welcome, i’m sick of the wet feet.  i’ve even thought of getting a welding friend to add braze ons, but then i would have to get a new paint job too.

also this winter the addition of a rack – an overpriced, but light weight rack that should last me the rest of my life.  having a rack is amazingly handy, you don’t realize how much stuff you can tie down to that guy – including a 20 pound cast iron pan full of stuffing at thanksgiving.

ma was kind enough to purchase me some new lights – or blink blinks as we refer to them in this house.  the advances that have been made in super bright led’s is just amazing.  i now have two in the front and one in the back.  if i have them all strobing it’s enough to give me a seizure.

also this winter i finally had to replace my lock.  i had been talking about it for at least six years after finding out how easy they are to pick with a pen.  while unlocking it the tumbler completely broke – it was quite impressive, an extra cold day and i think she had just had enough.  new lock has a flat key which should prove more difficult to pick, and comes with a cable to lock tires with as well.

and then finally the biggest additions

the panniers in racy red – thanks to my folks for these for my birthday.  pretty lightweight, easy to clamp to the bike, and very water proof.  i’ve managed to bring some pretty serious payloads in these guys – four cordless drills, two chargers, and 4 extra batteries in once trip, and a 23.5 pound turkey in another.  i never realize how liberating it was to be without a bag on my back, and to be able to carry more stuff to and from work.  and it makes the bike seem extra lightweight when they are not attached.

while all of this stuff seems like a lot of cash to shell out on a bike i figure most folks spend much more money on a car, and if it keeps me happy and riding, well that’s not really all that much.  and it’s fun.  the only barrier left is on snowy days when i just keep slipping around.  i’ve heard the debates over knobby tires vs. slicks in the winter – and i remain unconvinced in either direction – and getting studded tires just seems impracticable.

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6 responses to “winter riding preparations

  1. nobbies are where its at! I use one in the back and a slick in the front.

  2. Reading this put me in such a good mood thinking about biking around, even though my bike is way less capable than yours in any conditions. I still haven’t seen your new lock!

  3. Hey Patrick, ride and enjoy your bike as much as you want to! Keep riding as long as you can! I enjoyed my bike when I was younger and wouldn’t trade the joy for anything..the lungs (from smoking) couldn’t sustain me so I had to stop, (should have put the smokes down sooner, I would have been better off earlier)
    Every one has something they enjoy, make the best of it. My bike was green and cream color :o) I was a good biker :o) tough as nails, did tricks on it the boys couldn’t do :o)..< does that sound like I'm bragging ? well I am :o) Ginny

  4. Full coverage fenders are the sauce. All you need are seatstay rack clamps to mount them if you don’t have braze ons. Go to the nearest bike shop, ask for the “rubberized sheet metal thingies” they use for rack and fender installations, give them five bucks and be on your merry way. They might try to sell you full fenders with rubber band clamps. They are not the sauce. Cheers.

  5. Pingback: extra hauling capacity | little house on the urban prairie

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