Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wintery Wonderland?

I wasn't happy. Cold toes!
I have actually been commuting pretty much daily; yes mom, even in the snow and ice.  What I've come to realize is that Vern (my Vaya) may not be cut out for the snow...actually it would be perfect but I have an old Bianchi Grizzly frameset that has been asking me to build it and ride it and I figured that all the snow and ice and crap that's out there these days would do less damage to a single speed.  So that's what I did. 
Today, much happier! On my  new ride to boot.

Meet Bobby Bianchi: 
Heck yes he has pink star grips.

And a studded front Nokian Extreme tire

What's that you say? An old skool Shimano Biopace front chainring? Yes, for now anyway.
38 x 16 for now...maybe gonna look for a 34 for up front. Surly Singleator as well keeping things in check.
Winter is a great time to look at building up projects.  I've had this frame for too long now and it's never really been built up the way I want it.  So, here goes...the next thing I'm definitely adding is full wrap fenders.  I had a little seatpost mount flipper style fender for this morning's ride in but still totally got covered.  I tasted the salty grime of the fine Omaha roads as bits of salt and ice and slush were flung at my face.  Mmmmm.  Tasty.

Yesterday I rode Vern in with Copper in her Burley behind me and didn't really feel 100% confident, particularly around snowy corners.  There was more than one occasion where I completely unclipped and had my feet sticking out preparing for a fall...which luckily didn't happen.  Today on my studded front (thinking about investing in a studded rear as well, but currently just let some air out of the Klein Death Grip that is mounted up on back) I felt a lot better!  It probably helped that I wasn't pulling a 75 pound dog behind me.  Sorry Copper, we've already had customers in asking where you are!!  I think Copper may be spending a lot of this winter at home...or I suppose I'll drive once in a while when I really start missing having her around.  She's taking one for the team today and hanging with Jonn on his day off.

Anyway, who else out there is riding and what do you find to be helpful?  My next entry is going to be on gear and what to wear to stay toasty in these conditions.  I do have to say that my super freaking radical new swrve wind and water resistant trousers are my new fave!!  I've actually worn them 3 days in a row now and they're still looking purdy good!  If you saw my pant legs this morning (w/o ful wrap fenders I was covered in grime and slush) and then took a look now you'd be impressed.  The crap that collects during the ride just beads up and brushes right off.  Definitely my best investment thus far.

See you out there!!


  1. A few things:
    a. I have 26" fenders that I can't use. If you want em, you got em. Only thing missing is the cheap plastic seat stay bridge mount since it broke. But an L-bracket could be bolted on and work fine.


    c. Do you miss the disc brakes in the crappy conditions? Or does it help that, on a single speed in those conditions, you never pick up that much speed anyway? V-brakes are working surprisingly well for me. But again, that's on my single speed with a max speed of lower 20s.

  2. Great post, Sarah! If I had to pick my top three winter commuting accessories it would be Ski Goggles (clear or amber), Lobster-style gloves, and a convertible wind jacket. With these three items there is no temperature too low for riding.

  3. Hey Sarah -- Like you're realizing, the singlespeed is where it's at when the conditions turn ugly. While I love my Vaya for commuting when it's anything but snowy, there is simply no substitute for big, fat tires (or metal studs) when it gets sketchy. That's what my green El Mariachi is for... Winter. It's got big, fat tires and one gear set at 34x17.

    I guess I also ride my Fargo a lot too in the winter... If I'm going for gears, that's the bike I usually go for in the winter. Man, that thing is awesome in the snow. You can run some seriously fat rubber on that bike, even with fenders. I've run it with 2.55 Weirwolfs and fenders...

  4. munsoned!
    a. yes please, i'd love your fenders. thanks for the offer duder.
    b. i know huh?!
    c. yes i do indeed miss the discs. i actually almost blew through a stop this morning since i've gotten so used to those things. especially as more crap builds up on your rim, the more you want disc brakes.

    douglas: thanks for the comment and for the colorado 'ride' mag that julie dropped to me this a.m. good stuff in there! makes me miss the mountains... also, i have to agree with you fully on your gear picks. i am totally in love with my lobster claw gloves! i brought in my goggles for the ride home since i think they're saying 7 degrees this evening? and of course wind proof something is super important.

    thanks for the feedback mang. get salsa to sponsor me and i'll ride the shit out of a fargo! :) always good to hear from you.

  5. love the old-school bianchi grizz...that's a bitchin' winter steed. you go girl!

  6. The single-speed winter commuter idea seems to be spreading around town (not counting folks like Rafal who have been doing it forever).

    This is my third winter biking to work, and the first on my Trek Earl. It's got a 44x22 gearing and 35mm studded tires with full fenders.

    When the road is pretty dry and I'm on a flat or descent, I fell pretty silly coasting or spinning like a mad man, but so far, so good. I'm enjoying the low maintenance, fault tolerant single speed drivetrain.

    I did finally find some narrower 32mm studded tires, and I plan to put those on this weekend. I think they'll fit the Earl's rims a little better, and may even roll along better on the mostly plowed city streets than do the 35mm tires.

    I need to get a bell now. I saw a "girl" commuter the other day downtown all dressed for work, riding a folding bike. She waved, and I had no bell to greet her.

    Also I had a pedestrian give me a laugh of disbelief this morning and I set off for work. The funny thing to me is that she probably had wet, dirty feet from walking in the slush. I hardly put a foot down at all until I get to work, keeping my shoes warm and dry.

    Keep it up, all you winter commuter folks!