Posted by: Karen | November 11, 2011

A hundred and five

So far in 2011 I’ve made it to 105 bike commutes this year. Considering I didn’t begin commuting by bike this year until the last week of April, that’s pretty good.

I have gotten so used to cycling to work that on the nights before I have to use other transportation I put a sticky note on my helmet reminding me not to bike.

I have sometimes used Calgary’s park n’ bike lots to avoid downtown parking fees and still make it to late day appointments while still getting in a commute.

A couple of times I’ve ridden to running club events. Bonus fun!

Last Friday, on ride 103, it snowed. I do not yet possess studded winter tires for my bike, but it was just a little bit of snow, so I rode in it. I have borrowed neoprene booties for my feet, and ski gloves for my hands, so I was warm enough on the way in. The morning snow was pretty and made everything quiet on the ride in. It was lovely. Throughout the day, however, it continued to snow and cars packed the snow into ice on the quiet residential streets I take home. Getting home on slippery streets was a challenge, but I went slowly and I made it.

I learned two things from that icy ride:

  1. Slow and steady is fine, but it doesn’t keep me as warm as riding merrily along.
  2. If I’m to tackle winter riding I really should have better gear (studded tires, warmer attire).

I’m a trail runner who runs all winter; when it gets slippery I add more traction. Does my comfort level stretch far enough to studded tires on streets and bike paths? I’m not sure my budget does. We’ll see about that.

This week I took a few days off from the bike. Monday was still cold and I wasn’t sure the ice had gone yet. Tuesday I had an appointment with my kiddo’s teacher and then her swimming to follow, so resorted to a mix of the C-train and the car. Wednesday I just didn’t feel like layering up for -5C. By Wednesday night I was elated to see that not only had most of the ice gone, but Thursday and Friday’s weather looked lovely again.

Bike commutes 104 and 105 (Thursday and Friday) were AWESOME. I took extra time to go the long scenic route 3 out of the 4 rides. I rode in the dark both ways. It felt really, really good to hurtle my body through space again.

Last winter my bike hung on the wall for 5 months while I missed riding all winter. My budget can handle studded tires and some warm mitts, right?

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Responses

  1. You can start with studs on the front, that’s where it counts.

  2. I’m impressed. Hard core, I’d say. Bike commute in the snow. Meanwhile, this wimpy California gal won’t even ride in the rain.

  3. Thanks, Richard. I think I will try studded tires on both. Thanks for reminding me to go hang out on the Bike Calgary forum.

  4. Studded tires cost about the same as 2 months of bus passes and if you rotate them every winter you sshould get 3-4 winters out of them.

    Do it! You will love it.

  5. Your commute route may be quite different from mine, so you may have different requirements. However, I have never run studded tires for winter commuting (I run 700x28c). Most of my commute is on the MUP from Shouldice to 10 St. N.W. For the most part I find the pathway is perfectly rideable in most conditions. The on-street part of my commute does change as the roads fill up with snow/ice and I stick to Home Rd., which is well maintained all winter since it’s a bus route and a steep hill.

  6. seacloud, I call your piece of the MUP the “bike freeway”. I’ve used it on occasion during rush hour and there is a lot of bike traffic there! There is less bike traffic in my direction.

    I commute via the NE path when I have time, but often take residential streets east of Centre. Tonight they were a little slippery getting home, but I made it up and down hills okay with just my basic medium knobby hybrid tires.

    On the NE path there are some wicked dips under bridges near the zoo and further north under 41st Ave and McNight, where I am careful of ice.

  7. Thanks Sean,
    I’m starting to think of bike commuting as not just a way to save money while commuting/exercising, but a sport which I enjoy. I’d pay $140 for a new pair of trail shoes which I use frequently – studded tires offer me more safety and hopefully more time enjoying my sport.

    Now the question is which ones are the best deal for me and my hybrid?


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