Winter riding - is it worth the risk?

mikebikemike Posts: 166
edited November 2012 in Road beginners
I went out on Sunday afternoon thinking most of a day of sun would have warmed things up which it had in parts. I ended up scaring the hell out of myself on a climb by having both wheels disappear under me on a huge ice patch. Luckily I was fairly close to the verge and spilled off onto relatively soft ground. I guess the same experience on a descent and I would have trashed me and/or the bike.
I'm kind of tempted to hang the road bike up in the garage for a few months.
Talk me out of it chaps with either good advice or inspirational thoughts or I'll be a fat knacker by Easter.


  • marcusjb
    marcusjb Posts: 2,412
    You have to be careful on choosing routes - sadly, it's often more main roads and avoid the hills.

    But as long as you're careful (and accept that some days it is just too icy/snowy to ride safely), then there's no reason why you can't get decent miles in over winter.

    It's either get out there, get on the turbo or get fat. Your choice!
  • thistle_
    thistle_ Posts: 7,149
    You could get a cheapish MTB or hybrid that can take a few more knocks.

    I think you've been unlucky on this occasion. You would probably have been fine coming down the hill unless you were braking or turning sharply. Similarly if you weren't expecting the ice you were caught a bit unaware.

    I've only once managed to come off on ice, but plenty of other times due to other causes!
  • Ice is a game stopper. Bigger tyres allow a bit more grip but hit ice and even this doesn't help. Just be diligent, I ride year round and only occasionally is it too bad to ride. If it doubt use busier roads, they're likely to have been gritted or the traffic has helped get rid of it.
    Failing that, how about a cx or mtb and go off road?
  • Mike67
    Mike67 Posts: 585
    As gavbarron says...stick to the main roads and avoid country lanes if you can.

    The only times (yes plural :cry: ) I've come off on ice is on country lanes...all on one horrendous ride.
    It was fine near home (warmer in town) but I'd ridden into a frozen zone and had to tippy toe my way out.

    Surprisingly you cause little damage to yourself or the bike when sliding down hill on sheet ice...even at 20mph plus :D I guess the thing you can't control is what you might slide into.

    I've learnt my lesson and consider my route carefully if it's been sub zero overnight. Cross bike on the local trails is my fall back and failing that the dreaded turbo.
    Mike B

    Cannondale CAAD9
    Kinesis Pro 5 cross bike
    Lots of bits
  • stueys
    stueys Posts: 1,332
    I'm a wimp, if it goes below zero I either ride in the pm once things have warmed up or stay on the turbo. I don't really find busy major roads a fun ride, especially when it's gray or dark so if the back roads are too icy then i stay indoors. I also ride my Alu Spesh so if I come off then its not as potentially expensive.

    Even being a wimp there's ony really 4 to 6 weeks when I'm not out much.
  • Main Roads only seems a good idea; the road which I slipped off on was a very minor road with ice where it was partly sheltered by trees. I'm also tempted to get something second hand maybe in steel as I don't fancy replacing my nice carbon frame if it does all go to wrong.
  • There is a solution to every problem . .

    I'm lucky living rural and never ride on main roads - all my routes are on country lanes - so for winter riding/commuting I have studded ice tyres on an old rigid MTB. Heavy, yes, but better training for it. If you forget the fixation with average speeds, you can get some superb back road riding on frosty and icy days.

    Today's commute was ice free except for one big frozen section from field runoff. Had I not been on the ice bike I'd possibly be nursing a broken shoulder now.

    If you have the space and funds for an old MTB hack you can pick up Marathon Winters for not much more than £20 each from the German retailers. I have a turbo trainer but would rather be out on a real ride in wind, rain, snow, ice. . .
  • kingrollo
    kingrollo Posts: 3,198
    Tyre choice - vary the route and time of the ride in winter. If it gets really bad - just go the whole hog and go off road with an MTB.

    I do like to tick over in the winter - it makes April/May such a pleasure to ride with a bit of fitness
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    Living in Aviemore this is a common problem! If it's been well above freezing during the day I'll go out in the afternoon. You need to watch in bits where there's been no sun on the road such as next to a forest. It's even worse where there are fallen leaves or pine needles on the road. Look at the puddles by the side of the road for a guide. If in doubt unclip your feet, stop pedalling and slow down gently but never brake and turn at the same time (same goes for driving)!

    If in doubt I go mountain biking instead. - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • My commute rides have ground to a halt at the minute.
    riding to work at 5 pm isnt too bad but im about to set off home now and its slippery as hell out there right now in Oldham.
    guess its turbo /Spinning and rides on my days off for me for now.
    Specialized S Works SL2 . Campagnolo Record 11spd. rolling on Campag Zonda wheels
  • The majority of my riding is in country lanes & at this time of year some of them are in permanent shade, these I treat with great respect. If a lane is in partial shade obviously I ride on the sunny side only moving when traffic appears. Another cause for concern is wet leaves & there are plenty up here in the L/district, it's a case of creeping round some bends at 3-5 mph, sometimes I feel like screaming but my heart's in my mouth.
  • I should be picking up a new MTB soon so will use that for commuting and take a different route which is more main roads.

    I just hope its worth it when the spring comes around!