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Adventures in Winter Bike Riding

I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to riding my bike in the winter. I’ve already promised myself that I won’t do it in a snowstorm (no studded tires), but the cold itself is creating some problems. I’m bundled up enough for it, with a scarf and mittens added to my skullcap and liner gloves. But I hadn’t really thought about the temperature’s effect on my bike. Three times already I’ve had to ride all the way home in first because water somehow made its way into my my gear cable and froze.

Mittens are warmer than gloves.

Bringing the bike inside overnight thaws it out again for the morning, but the ride home’s really frustrating.

Advice is pretty consistent on how to prevent this problem: store the bike in a covered shelter (preferably an unheated one) and wipe it down and grease it after riding in bad conditions.

Unfortunately, I only have outside bike racks at work, I don’t have a garage or shed at home, and I can’t store it in the apartment. It’s not that I would mind it underfoot so much, or the mess it makes on the floor in bad weather, but Oliver tries to escape whenever we open the door (stupid cat). I don’t dare keep it open long enough to wrestle my bike through every night.

Any advice? For now I’m just pretending it’s a fixed-gear and leaving it in second, so if it gets stuck there, I don’t mind. But I’m worried this is having a terrible effect on the bike. I’m definitely seeing rust, and that’s probably why water got into the cable in the first place.

Luckily I don’t have to worry about my brakes freezing, since I have a drum brake on the back. (I love coaster brakes.) There’s no cable to freeze, and it’s enclosed, so ice and snow can’t get in as easily. The front wheel has a rim brake, which could freeze, but I really only use the back brake. At least I won’t have a brake failure while I’m slowly riding home in first…

One year ago: Looking ahead to 2010


Comment from Jenn
Time January 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

…don’t forget your from Maine!! – get a small tarp for it ; ) a 4×6 might be enough and will fold small and you could use small bungees to fasten it to your bike for shelter during the day and travelling during your commute… I know they aren’t exactly environmentally friendly but should last a few winters and would keep water from getting down in and give it a chance to dry off during its ‘rest’ time…?? idk I’m also from Maine but there’s no freakin way I’m riding in the winter!! : )

Pingback from Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time January 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

[…] the Lane – Boston Biker. Speaking of winter biking… I’m uncomfortable taking the lane, but I’m more uncomfortable being squeezed […]

Pingback from Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time January 26, 2011 at 7:37 pm

[…] issue with my gear cable freezing made me realize I really should learn bike maintenance from someone other than the internet. […]

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