October 8, 2012
Well, it happened this morning... snow! Not a lot, not powdery, but icy, wet and on my bike. Due to a recent garage remodel project at the ranch, I decided to just leave my steed outside for the night, after all, the evening prior was mild with a soft breeze, and I was going to ride it in another 12 hours anyway. But, there I was, bouncing the tires, brushing off the seat, and wishing I had uncovered my gloves, hat, and headband the night before. Don't get me wrong, I was also a little giddy with the promise of a new winter season, even if the spoils were soaking into my seat.
With winter knocking on my bike, I decided to asked some local experts about winterizing bike tips, and I also mixed in some random thoughts:
Water, Earth, Fire, Air ... and Aether (salt?).
Ice, snow, dew, condensation, rain, sleet, hail, well you get it, over the long term can cause corrosion. Keeping your bike under a roof and allowing components to dry, or at least wiping the bike down will keep everything running smoother. If you do store your bike outside then keeping it covered with a heavy plastic or at least under a little bit of shelter, even an eave can help keep some water at bay.
Think about getting some studded bike tires, or really, really fat ones! And, if your into DIY and have some older tires laying around, I have known a few folks to make screw tires, placing screws from the inside out, you will also need a liner though between the top of the screw(on the inside of the tire) and the tube to prevent movement as well as the heads of the screws from scraping the tube.
3. Fire (... like water for chocolate)
Clean your bike or at least have a cloth handy to wipe it down. Simple Green works well, or a little bit of dish soap and water. Getting off the grime and re-lubing the chain are the main ways of combating the winter goo. Think about spending a little bit of time cleaning, and remember -- just not too much high pressure near the cables. One good fried of mine, who lives in an apartment, uses a pump-style plant sprayer on his balcony to gently spray the mud and grime off. This can be really helpful in winter as well, especially if your pipes are winterized and all the hoses are inside. Car washes used wisely can be helpful after major mud, ice, sand, etc. just watch the pressure and try to dry things off, or wipe everything down. And, of course bringing your bike inside to sit with you next a warm crackling fire after the spray down, should make you both happier.
Insulate! Winter riding can be fun! Dress warm and in layers. My favorite piece of gear is an ear band worn under my helmet, and i usually forgo my cycling shoes for warm fuzzy boots and flat pedals especially for just commuting and tooling around. Also those pogies and other brands of mitt-style gear shift covers are really nice. They allow you to wear a thin pair of gloves, which also allows you to shift and stay warm and they have an added bonus of keeping snacks warm! These are especially nice when the wind chill plummets.
Well, yes, we are all made of star dust but salt can be a real bother, wiping the bike down once a week (see Fire) can help dissolve this corrosive element. So again, wiping components down should be considered especially when it's really slushy and wet out. This fifth element though is dedicated to clear skies and fresh air, the closer you can get to the stars, the better.
Well if you want to just skip all those steps and avoid winter, check out Adventure Cycling early tours, or just head south ... well, not too far south ... possible snow-free adventures:
Southern Arizona Sunsets - March 9 -15, 2013
California Spring Fling - March 17 - 23, 2013
Death Valley -Van II - March 16 - 22, 2013
Me, I'm giddy and ready ... let it pour!
Photos by Mo
ON THE ROAD is written by the tours team -- Mo, Paul, Madeline, and Arlen -- tours specialists and intrepid bicyclists, covering all things related to Adventure Cycling's Tours Department. Find your dream tour now!