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Two words,...absolutely terrifying. Today was my first snow ride to work and I must say that it was not how I wanted to start my Monday morning. I was fully prepared with all of the proper snow biking equipement and was excited for my first winter ride. After all everyone says that it is a lot of fun and I have always thought of myself as a courageous person, but not today. I was scared out of my mind the entire ride. I almost slipped twice within the first 500 feet. Turning back to go home and drive was an option but I figured it would get better once I got to a properly salted road, but I was mistaken. I had several cars honk at me and I was trying to avoid the snow/slush the entire way, not to mention the cars that flew past me and covered me with slush off of their cars. I dunno maybe this will be more enjoyable if its not so wet outside and people are not hurrying to try to get to work. I will continue to ride to work on cold days and days where there is a light snow but if its anything like today forget it.

Any tips to gain fearlessness while riding to work in these conditions???

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I feel for you, Leslie - sorry you had such a bad commute! I surrendered to the cold a week or so ago and am not as adventurous when it comes to weather. Today when I was standing on the El platform watching the bikers, I was in awe and hoping they got to work OK!
It's tough, even when there is just a light layer of snow on the ground. I usually wait until I can see pavement before going anywhere too far.

If you have the time, why not take the neighborhood roads where things are quieter?
I'm right there with you. I went to sleep really early and missed the initial blasts of the snowfall. And when I was wheeling my bike out this morning, I saw that my street had a thin veneer of ice all over it (apparently "no salt for you!"), and I had to totally amend my route to work. I had no idea there was going to be this much snow!

I guess the first thing I make certain of is to go slooooooow. PAINFULLY slow if need be. Sometimes so slow that old ladies on walkers could pass you up. And going this slow gives you ample time to scan the areas ahead and around you for potential nastiness. Riding like this has allowed me to ride a road bike with 700x28 tires (probably very bullheadedly) through the icy muck.

And as a humorous postscript: I stood to pedal at the intersection of Irving Park and Ashland, and my seat grabbed my pants, and pretty much "de-panted" me. I had a second or two of mild embarrassment, then I was able to gain my composure and ride on (which thankfully, was not much farther!).
Snow can be a lot of fun, i'm going for a cruise shortly. Commuting can be a pain but once you get it down its great. Yeah there are cars honking at you and it gets messy and squirmy, but over time it gets easier. I went from a short city commute, to riding from des plaines in to the city. In the burbs they drag on the maintenance, 700x23 works out for me...cuts through the snow. no salt out there is hard, ice takes out the best of us. i wish everyone luck this winter, don't let it keep you in if you can avoid it.
Also on the other end, there is no shame in taking cta on those blizzard days... don't kill yourself out there. Stay dry and bike winter!
It probably depends on what street you take. I took Lincoln down and it really wasn't too bad. I did notice that cars were passing me awful close, which was a little scary. I didn't have any honkers though. I couldn't find any of my fleece pants this morning, but I didn't look very hard. I definitely think that base layers need to be layered under something else.

I'm thinking the ride home will be worse though.
The fact that you took the plunge and stuck with it is most important. Congratulations on facing your fears! They will grow smaller by the mile and day.

The first few snowy days are adjustment days for drivers and pedestrians, too. Even though this happens here EVERY YEAR, we all seem to collectively block out how to operate in snow as soon as it goes away. Drivers relearn how to start from a stop, how to stop and navigate both arterial and back streets. As pedestrians, we suddenly realize we can't cross intersections as fast as the week before. Exercise more patience (both for yourself and others) than you might otherwise.

Try to leave earlier until you are more comfortable with the ride. Not being in a hurry helps remove some of the stress. Some people make a stop halfway there to grab a cup of coffee, or just hop off and take five to make it two shorter trips.

Try several routes and find one that is best for you. For some, it is dedicated bike lanes (as much as possible); for others, it is side streets with less traffic. You may start with one and adjust to another as your confidence grows.

If it is an option, ride with others or meet them along the way. Knowing there is support for you can make a big difference too.

Good luck and keep at it - hope to see you on the streets! I'll be the guy behind the snowplow getting shotgunned with salt.
yeah, today sucked. it's usually the most difficult when you're riding during a storm like this morning. visibility is horrible (my eyes are on fire today) and the roads aren't in the best shape. riding on slick skinny road tires doesn't really help either.
You could bike to a bus route that gets you close to work; there are no rush hour bans for putting your bike on a bus rack. You have the opportunity to ride part of the way and let the bus take care of the scary part, which is something you'll only have to do on the storm days. The city likes to dump way too much road salt on the streets, so bike winter usually is more like riding in a really cold salty desert.
I agree.... this is my 3rd year of winter biking but this morning was a bit too treacherous.

What kind of bike (and tires) do you ride with?

Seeing a couple of fellow cyclists on the road encouraged me on the way in.

Stick with it! :-)
I just recently converted my Trek mountain bike into a commuter bike by putting road tires on it. The tires are Ultra Gator Skins. So far the bike and tires have worked out great. I just started biking to work this past summer so I am new at everything bike related. I have accumulated all of the weather appropriate gear and stuff for my bike but still get a little bit nervous getting out in this weather.
on the other side, i drove today :6

it took longer than riding would have, and i had to watch humbly, as braver cyclists headed by me! now i have to go home & suffer the fate of the trainer.
I have to admit it, today was my first fixed snow commute! The under layer of ice proved exciting and I was a bit concerned that if my pony threw me whether or not she would then kick me with a pedal, being fixed and all. It's not unusual for me to take a spill or two at the start of the snow and ice season, but I'm not looking forward to having my pedal and crank bite me while I go down. I'm thinking that I'll flip to the freewheel side, but I might give fixed a go.

How's it been for other fixed riders on the snow and ice?



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