Forum home Road cycling forum Road general

Cycling in Ice - What's the crack?

BiomechBiomech Posts: 158
edited January 2015 in Road general
So it's that time of year when it's freezing and full of snow and ice. I see a lot of photos of people out in the snow on road bikes and read posts about people out in -10c on their bikes.

But what's the deal? Surely going out at 0c or lower is just an invite to fall off? How do people actually cycle in such conditions and have the balls to do it? Do they wear extra protective gear like elbow pads etc? (I haven't seen any do that).

I've bought plenty to keep me warm, but with so much frost and ice, I'm more worried about going down.
«13

Posts

  • I also worry about going down. With work and everything i'm just not willing to risk it, so I don't bother riding.

    Some people are either less concerned about leaving loved ones in a sticky situation, or don't have any who depend on them so they just go for it!

    I don't see many people wipe out here in Cambridge, but the weather has not been that bad yet. Lots of rain, and bits of frost, but not much ice has appeared.
  • Ber NardBer Nard Posts: 827
    I find riding on compacted snow quite easy and surprisingly grippy; fresh, fluffy snow hard work and riding on ice plain dangerous unless you're on studs but even then, I'd rather avoid it.

    Take it steady and learn the limitations of grip in the conditions and your confidence will build.

    Of course it's more risky and it's up to you to decide whether or not it's worth it.
  • Rain the evening before a below zero night, riding on lanes with overhanging trees, the council not gritting etc. are all good indicators of icy roads. If these conditions are in place, I will often wait a couple of hours before going out for the day to warm up, even if my club go out at 9 on the regular weekend rides (and then post about the various resultant offs in the forum).

    I carry on riding, but am far more circumspect about it.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,490
    Most of the time our roads are not full of ice - there are patches of it, but the vast majority will be ridable.
    Even if there is a lot of snow and ice around it's only dodgy where the ice is smooth.

    For me, on frosty mornings it's just a case of being a little more careful - I've ditched a commute in by bike when the backend twitched twice in the first mile (overnight rain followed by clear skies & no grit = lots of ice) - don't push hard, back off before you'd brake, go careful around the corners and take the line where the cars drive.

    On wintery days I swap the wheelset for one with different sorts of tyres - I've got a wider CX tyre (32mm) that rode ok (not brilliantly) in snow, but I've also got a studded tyre that will do for ice - it's much harder work though so I tend not to ride them unless needed.

    Ultimately, lots of fresh snow on the road = no bike as it takes a while for the cars to clear a wide enough path for me to ride and them safely overtake (although I do have the mountain bike this year so could go offroad!).

    Don't automatically think that slicks = no grip - a couple of winters ago we had a fair dump of snow before I left work - I was on the CX tyres and a mate had 23mm slicks on a trike (single drive) - he and I both made it up the big hill that had cars spinning and the buses waiting at the bottom....
  • I wouldn't bother on a roadie - times when I've taken the chance, I've had the rear wheel let go just pedalling steadily on the flat - stayed upright but it wasn't fun.

    I swap to an MTB with Ice Spiker Pros on - obviously slower but in thousands of miles of Highland rural commuting - often on just plain sheet ice for tens of metres - I've never once had a "moment" let alone come off.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    I came off on black ice in January, one minute you're upright the next you've hit the deck. Broke my hand, month off. I went out for a run this morning instead, not that that is guaranteed to be safe...
  • craker wrote:
    I came off on black ice in January, one minute you're upright the next you've hit the deck. Broke my hand, month off. I went out for a run this morning instead, not that that is guaranteed to be safe...

    That's the funny thing with the Spikers - they grip brilliantly but, if you stop, you can't stand up!!
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • Gazzetta67Gazzetta67 Posts: 2,006
    Dunno how i managed to stay upright myself somedays. front wheel gave way a few weeks back so that was the warning i needed. its been white all day here today and yesterday, and the car in the drive has been iced up for the 2 full days then am not going to risk it. The main roads should be salted but once your out in the country or lanes you cant see black ice. as much as i hate the turbo i would rather sit indoors than risk a broken arm,hip or pride that could set you back months. As some of the guys have said it makes sense to have a MTB or cyclocross option. As much as i hate the rain living in Scotland, i would not mind a few days of the wet stuff as it rises the temps and being off work till monday i want a couple of training miles in. see us cyclists are never happy :mrgreen:
  • luv2rideluv2ride Posts: 2,360
    Went out relatively late (2'ish) yesterday as cabin fever was otherwise going to set in. Thought the lanes would have had plenty of time to warm up but quite a few patches that were still white with frost/ice, and had a few "moments". Then confidence returned until I hit a patch on a downhill that had been in shade all day - really sketchy even on big 700 x 32mm tyres.

    Other half bought me a turbo trainer mat for Crimbo so reckon I'll stay indoors when it's white outside :roll: mind you she also got me a Google chromecast so I can watch my training vids on the LCD TV via Youtube now...
    Scott Solace 10 disc - Kinesis Crosslight Pro6 disc - Scott CR1 SL - Pinnacle Arkose X 650b - Pinnacle Arkose 1x11 "monster cross" - Specialized Singlecross...& an Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray 4 string...
  • Omar LittleOmar Little Posts: 2,040
    It is risky however many traditional cycling clubs have specific winter routes (that they have been using for years) that minimise the chance of ice. Roads that treated, roads that avoid shade, roads that avoid hills etc. Often the biggest problem i have is getting from my house to the main road rather than the 70 odd miles i'll do on the club run.

    If it is too cold and icey for the road i often take the mountain bike out instead - there will still be bits of ice to watch out for but a hard frost can make mud tracks quite grippy and it can make most of the local trails i have to avoid in the winter because they are so gloopy and wet rideable again
  • slowbike wrote:
    Most of the time our roads are not full of ice - there are patches of it, but the vast majority will be ridable.
    Even if there is a lot of snow and ice around it's only dodgy where the ice is smooth.

    For me, on frosty mornings it's just a case of being a little more careful - I've ditched a commute in by bike when the backend twitched twice in the first mile (overnight rain followed by clear skies & no grit = lots of ice) - don't push hard, back off before you'd brake, go careful around the corners and take the line where the cars drive.

    This. Keep an eye on the conditions and be sensible. Stick to gritted roads if you can, and avoid the shady areas. Where I am there is sheet ice everywhere, so I've stayed in; I haven't any spiked tyres.
  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    For me it usually doesn't pass the risk/reward calculation, so I stay in unless I'm confident it will be clear of ice.

    If you do go out, watch out for humpback bridges (and similar) or any other road that can be chilled from above and below simultaneously, almost guaranteed ice.
  • dabberdabber Posts: 1,621
    I've avoided riding the last couple of days and the injury to a club member friend of mine a couple of days ago reinforced that decision. He's in hospital with a broken pelvis after hitting black ice. No thanks.
    “You may think that; I couldn’t possibly comment!”

    Wilier Cento Uno SR/Wilier Mortirolo/Specialized Roubaix Comp/Calibre Bossnut
  • Went out this afternoon at about 2.30pm thinking that it shouldn't still be icy only to find it still was. I then stupidly went down a lane that I know is not a great surface anyway. I came to a section covered in what looked like slush (we haven't had any snow), so I thought I could go slowly through it. But it was frozen solid and over I went! Luckily I had plenty of layers on and so didn't do any damage and managed to fall so that the bike fell on top of me so no damage to it either. This is my first off in several years of riding.

    But I then decided that it would probably be a good idea to stick to more major roads that will have been gritted. But I will think carefully about going out when temperatures are so low in future.
  • KajjalKajjal Posts: 3,404
    dabber wrote:
    I've avoided riding the last couple of days and the injury to a club member friend of mine a couple of days ago reinforced that decision. He's in hospital with a broken pelvis after hitting black ice. No thanks.

    Similar experience means I take the same view.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Only studded tyres provide any grip on ice - it's simply not worth the risk of riding on the road when it gets below zero IMO unless it's been dry. That's why I've got two CX bikes, a 3"-tyred MTB plus a 5"-tyred fatbike on the way - after a deep frost, offroad routes firm-up nicely, as you're not riding so fast you don't need to layer-up as much to cope with the windchill.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    It's just not worth the risk to me really. I've started my training for next year and the last thing I need is weeks off.
    You can get a really good workout on a turbo in an hour or so.

    I did run on trails today and even in the bright sun there were ice patches. It'll be warmer in a few days time. Keep the faith.
  • kingstoniankingstonian Posts: 2,153
    What's the crack? It is probably the sound of your wrist, arm, collarbone etc breaking when you hit the deck hard after the wheels disappear under you after hitting a patch of ice.
  • alex222alex222 Posts: 588
    Just posted on another thread about my off yesterday on ice, resulting in 3 sttitches and a cracked helmet. Will now follow the advice above and just not risk it in such conditions.
  • As above posters have said if conditions are likely to mean ice then I opt for the turbo (or occasionally a run but don't tell anyone :oops: )

    Even setting out later in the day some roads are still hazardous and would personally rather not take the risk
  • I put Schwalbe winter tyres on at the start of december for all my riding. They are there to protect me from black ice. They need about 30% more power and make a lot of noise but yesterday in the snow it was worth it. I just sailed up all the hills, over rutted snow, and sheet ice without a worry.

    I avoid main roads in this weather as it is the numpties in cars that can't drive on ice that are the danger. At least on the back road there are very few cars and they know the roads are bad.
  • BiomechBiomech Posts: 158
    For me it usually doesn't pass the risk/reward calculation, so I stay in unless I'm confident it will be clear of ice.

    Same here, I've only been road biking since August and not really confident for the ice - in fact I haven't even got past the "I'm going to fall off" part of leaning on corners yet.

    Cycling is the only fitness I do at the moment (due to injury), I don't really want a turbo trainer because I'd find it beyond boring staring at a cement wall for an hour.

    It's nice to see everyone's thoughts though, after seeing so many pictures and talk about sub zero cycling, I thought it was the norm / to be expected. Glad to know it's not just me who doesn't fancy the risk.
  • bigmulbigmul Posts: 208
    Would only go out on the CX not the roadie. Went out yesterday, still pretty dodgy mind so didn't go any kind of speed.

    9eqNXV.jpg
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,867
    Biomech wrote:
    I don't really want a turbo trainer because I'd find it beyond boring staring at a cement wall for an hour.

    That's what Sufferfest/Youtube/Netflix/recorded TdF/Vuelta/Giro highlights are for :D
  • bendertherobotbendertherobot Posts: 11,655
    edited December 2014
    bigmul wrote:
    Would only go out on the CX not the roadie. Went out yesterday, still pretty dodgy mind so didn't go any kind of speed.

    9eqNXV.jpg

    What tyres?
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • Ber NardBer Nard Posts: 827
    What stem cap is that?
  • kiniookinioo Posts: 776
    Have been cycling in winter since little (ice, frost, deep snow); 0, -5, -10, -20. Cannot see any problems (obviously its not summer conditions so pay some attention etc.).

    Anyway, be careful !
  • BiomechBiomech Posts: 158
    I nearly went down on the only patch of ice walking through town today hah, maybe I'll give the bike a miss :P
  • What I cannot understand is the cyclists that complain drivers can't drive on snow/ice and then like muppets go and ride alongside them!!!!
    I have said it in another thread..... We as cyclists have no God given right to assume our place on the road is sacrosanct....Why on earth in some of the cr ap conditions we have seen this last week or so would you jeapordise your health and your life just to say you had put some miles in!!
    I have a man cave with Turbo/DVD and a screen and when there's ice I will continue watching Sons of Anarchy safe in the knowledge I'm getting a decent workout and I'm safe from other road users skidding and sliding along as best they can.
    Mind you..... I have fallen off the turbo so there's even danger there :lol::lol: DONT Ask!!!!
  • Andyb10Andyb10 Posts: 126
    I went out just after Xmas thinking it wasn't too bad and main roads were wet rather than icy. First side road though and bike went out from under me on the straight and I ended up with 10 stitches to head wound and cracked bone in wrist. Happened so fast I couldn't do anything about it
Sign In or Register to comment.