Tag Archives: snow

A Mighty (Cold) Wind

Winter is kicking my ass already.  The extreme freezing temperatures more common to mid-winter arrived early on Thursday: 2 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius) with 25 mph winds, 40 mph wind gusts, and a windchill of -20 degrees (-29 Celsius). Despite the severe weather, I dragged Oma out to bike to work as usual.

Oma in the Snow

At first everything went smoothly. My studded tires crunched over the ice with ease.  Dressed in wool leggings, tweed slacks, wool undershirt, wool sweater, wool overcoat, wool socks, wool scarf around my head, Bern winter helmet, leather snow boots, safety glasses, wool-silk blend glove liners and heavy duty Gore-Tex goose down mittens, I was feeling good. I even put chemical warming packs in my mittens.

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Bicycling On Ice: My Studded Tires

Studded Tire and Snowman

It’s that time of year again: legions of bike commuters are gearing up for winter and considering whether to buy studded tires. Well, okay, maybe just five or six of you.

So should you get studded tires?

I asked myself that question for weeks last year. My dithering abruptly ended on the morning my bike slipped from under me and I landed on my butt.

Many winter cyclists in Chicago seem to go without studs, sticking to the major routes that are well-plowed, but I prefer side street and the Lakefront Trail, which are often icy. Also, I appreciate having one less worry for winter cycling. Freedom from paranoia is a good reason to get studded tires.

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Wrap Yourself in Cashmere

This post title is inspired by the homepage of Performance Bicycle, which announces: “Who needs cashmere? Wrap yourself in Spandex!” (Thanks Steve for the heads up.) While I appreciate that some cyclists prefer spandex, I thought I’d represent for all the cashmere-wearing cyclists out there. After wool, cashmere is my favorite clothing for winter cycling: luxurious and warm.

Cashmere

Unfortunately, after I snapped this picture in the morning, I realized my narrow skirt was impossible to cycle in, especially sitting upright.  Taken down by a skirt! I was in a rush, so I garaged Oma and took the L train.  Too bad, because I missed Chicago’s first flurry.

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How To: Dress For Winter Bike Commuting

The time has come to talk about winter. Winter cycling is a wonderful experience because I enjoy the outdoors and all of its snowy beauty every day while most people hibernate.  I’m really excited about my second winter cycling. Last winter was all about learning the ropes and testing my limits. (See my photo synopsis of winter 2008-09 here.) Now I know what to expect.

Me and Trisha, February 2009

Me and Trisha, February 2009

Here I share my wisdom on how to dress for winter bike commuting. This advice is based on my personal experience: riding 7 miles in snow with temperatures around 20 degrees to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Your individual climate and commute will dictate how you dress. The main take-away point is that you can wear the clothes you already have, but with more protection for you fingers/toes and less bulk for your torso. If you can walk around in the winter, you can bike in the winter.

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The 4 Most Common Causes of Single Bike Crashes

Cycling is a fun and safe way to get around. What danger there is comes overwhelmingly from motor vehicles. However, there are a few common causes of single bike crashes, and knowing the hazards may help you avoid them.

May help you avoid them. Unfortunately, this does not always work. We all know that broken concrete sidewalks are a tripping hazard while walking, but I bet we’ve all still tripped on them. Such is life outside a plastic bubble.

Mr. Dottie demonstrates hazard #2: ICE!

Mr. Dottie demonstrates hazard #2: ICE!

This week Mr. Dottie had a crash caused by one of the common hazards: clipping a pedal on the ground while cornering. A patch of irregularly raised pavement brought the ground too close, and his heavy work pannier made correcting impossible.  He is sore and a bit scraped on his arm and ankle, but otherwise doing well. A quick trip to urgent care (luckily he has health insurance) showed that nothing was fractured.  When someone cycles as much as he does, stuff like this is much more likely.

In light of this event, here is my very unofficial list of the 4 most common causes of single bike crashes:

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Every Commute An Adventure

Today’s commute was a hodgepodge of scenery. As always, the gorgeous sunrise over Lake Michigan was the one constant. Will I ever tire of taking pictures of my bike and the sun? Probably not.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

But this sun is deceiving. Let’s go back in time half a day and see what Sunday morning brought …

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We Biked the Whole Winter

We set out every morning, out of habit, for the fun of it.

morning

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All Schwinns Go to Heaven

Schwinn

Schwinn

This sadly rusting beauty is one of thousands of Schwinns that populate Chicagoland’s streets and sidewalks. During the summer, it seems nearly half of all bicycles that go by are old Schwinns. Once upon a time, of course, Schwinns were made in Chicago. That’s all history now.

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A Multi-Modal Weekend

I say that I cycle everywhere, which is basically true. However, there are some places too close or too far to access via bicycle. This weekend presented a mix of destinations and led to a mix of transportation modes.

Bikey Bike

Bikey Bike

Bike. Friday night we rode our bikes for dinner at Atwood Cafe and an amazing O’Neill play, Desire Under the Elms, at Goodman Theatre. Pretty sure we were the only ones there carrying around bike helmets, but I care not.

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More Chicago Fun

On Sunday, we borrowed a bike from the neighbor for me and set off down the Lakefront Path to go ice skating. I’d ridden the path in the summer before, but was eager to give Dottie’s winter commute a try. It was below 20 degrees when we set out, but the day was clear, sunny and beautiful.

Trying out the Raleigh

Trying out the Raleigh

The path was pretty clear of ice and snow, and busy, if not crowded — mostly joggers, but we saw a few other cyclists.

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Biking (and Blogging!) Together at Last

Dutch Bike Chicago

Dutch Bike Chicago

What happens when you put two bike blogging friends together in the same city? Lots of bikey goodness. We visited Dutch Bike Chicago and tried out a couple of really cool bikes, the Retrovelo Paula and the Workcycles Bakfiets. The snow was falling pretty hard with already a few inches of accumulation, but that did not stop us. [I was excited to have a chance to ride in real snow. Walking in it was not as much fun!  --T]

Everything about the shop is so classy and being surrounded by all of those gorgeous bikes was a treat.

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Fenders Are Your Friend

Fenders are your friend – don’t be the guy or girl with a brown stripe up your backside! That’s exactly what will happen if you ride in the rain or slush with nothing between you and your tires. Fenders are essential for those who want to ride in all weather conditions and keep themselves clean and dry. My oma has huge fenders and mudflaps that keep all dirt, grime, slush, and other city road nastiness off of me. I wear this cream colored coat a lot while riding and it is totally clean. I’d probably get it dirtier sitting on the el train (I have a fear of one day sitting in a pee-soaked seat – ick).

Clean Coat

Clean Coat

Riding your bike doesn’t have to mean getting messy if you’re prepared. My bikes came with fenders, but most in the States don’t. Planet Bike has some great ones that my husband added to his bike (and hopefully Trisha’s Pinkie will have soon have her own pink pair). There are some that snap on and off easily, but don’t offer full protection. I recommend the full fenders with mud flaps, which will keep your shoes clean and reduce spray for the benefit of any cyclists riding behind you.

Happy (rain/snow) riding!

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Crunchy Ice on Vimeo

Enjoy my first attempt at a video. Nothing too terribly exciting. This is the Oak Street Beach curve, only about 50 yards of these conditions, then smooth sailing. My commute is not always so dramatic. Turn up the volume to experience the sounds of Chicago winter bike commuting.

Crunch Ice from Dottie White on Vimeo.

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Crunchy Ice on Vimeo

Enjoy my first attempt at a video. Nothing too terribly exciting. This is the Oak Street Beach curve, only about 50 yards of these conditions, then smooth sailing. My commute is not always so dramatic. Turn up the volume to experience the sounds of Chicago winter bike commuting.

more about "Crunchy Ice on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

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Cold Sun

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunday’s warmer weather was a fluke and the temperatures are back in the single digits (as in, 0). The bitter cold has been accompanied by a glorious sun, though, so I forgive nature.

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Cycling to Chinatown

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Sunday was a rare warmer day in Chicago, with temperatures in the mid to high 30’s. We took advantage of the weather by cycling to Chinatown to meet friends for lunch and watch the Chinese New Year parade. (Nothing like riding a 50 pound bike 20 miles to burn off a big lunch.) What a nice feeling! I wore a light jacket and only one pair of gloves. There was life back on the lakeshore trail, including plenty of unleashed dogs running into my path. All these fair-weather people should try poking their heads out the other 180 days of winter. It’s really not so bad.

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The Middle Finger

This picture, unfortunately, is only a set-up and I did not ride my bike with friends on my front and rear racks. But I do want to practice carrying someone on my rear rack. I know it can be done, but it’s a balance issue that I need to work on.

Bike Taxi

Bike Taxi

I rode my bike out last night to Schubas to see Lenka. Again, I was the only one in my group on a bike. I got quite a few comments from strangers, probably because I was in a pedestrian-busy party area. Riding down Broadway a guy said to his friend, That is the most awesome bike ever. While taking the picture above a guy in a van called out, Nice ride! While unlocking my bike, a guy walking by said, You’re not going to ride that are you? It’s a gorgeous bike, but it’s not safe. Ride on the sidewalk. I was all smiles and thank yous, but being told what to do by a random man is high on my list of annoyances. It was 2 a.m. but by then I was very close to home and there were plenty of people out and about. About 90% of the cars on the road were cabs, which means not many drunk drivers.

Bike Parking

Bike Parking

Even though my ride home was short, I broke my most sacred cycling rule – never flip off a driver. I try to stay positive and not sink to their level, which helps me enjoy riding a lot more and hopefully fosters a more positive relationship between drivers and cyclists. But I’m no angel. A cabbie passed me on a narrow one-way street closer than I’ve ever been passed before – a couple inches closer and he would have knocked me down. Before I knew it, my middle finger was up. Maybe it was the three pints of Bass I’d had; maybe he just deserved it. I’ll try to be better from now on. But overall, a fun night.

For Trisha’s benefit, I will tag this post “beer.” It fits.

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Precipitation

It’s been an exciting two days weather-wise here in Nashville. Yesterday I was all suited up and ready to ride, when I walked out my door to realize that…it was pouring down rain (one of the drawbacks to living in a first-floor condo is that you can’t hear rain on the roof!).

Today I woke up certain that the snow they’d been forecasting would finally be here. I pulled back my bedroom curtains when I woke up to reveal…nothing but water. Rain again? I was sitting at my computer in the study, sipping coffee and checking email, wondering if I would have to take the car to work again, when I glanced out the window to see this:

snow! snow! snow!

snow! snow! snow!

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Shared Lanes, Buses, and Creepy Trees

Chicago Marked Shared Lane

Chicago Marked Shared Lane

This is a random picture from my ride home, an example of a “marked shared lane” in Chicago. They put these where the road is pretty wide, but not wide enough for an actual bike lane. This sharrow is from Lincoln Avenue, which is a long diagonal street that cuts northwest from downtown. This avenue alternates between sharrows and bike lanes. The sharrows make me feel a little better and make it clear to cars that I belong. They certainly helped me feel more comfortable when I was starting out riding in traffic, an important factor for getting more people on bikes.

Uncooperative Bus

Uncooperative Bus

I took a picture of this bus with the intention of saying that cyclists should stay behind a bus at a stop light. When the light turns green, the bus will be ready to go and you don’t want to play leapfrog with a CTA driver. (This advice would not apply if you’re super fast and cooler than I, but for most people puttering around the city, it’s a good general rule.) However, as soon as I took this picture, the light turned green and the bus didn’t move and I realized that it was sitting there completely empty. So I went around it. Damn bus.

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