Mountain Biking in the Winter!

I went cycling with the dogs. Here's the photo from twitter... So much easier just to copy the twitter link than to try copying the photo into the blog because doesn't allow uploading photos with linux. So here's the link.


Had a few errands to do today. Dogs needed a run so off I went, cycling up challenging hilly terrain filled with snow.

Most of the paths at the Beddington dog walk park were compacted and hard as pavement. Very rough riding but the Trek Navigator 2.0 handled the bumps well although with front/rear shocks.It began to feel like a washboard after a while. The dogs chased me and I stayed in low range and low gears so they could keep up.

On the way back I challenged my studded snow tires on really steep climbs where the front wheel kept lifting off the ground. Shifting my weight over the handlebars was enough to keep the front wheel on the ground. The rear tires slipped a little on each pedal stroke but provided ample traction to get up and over really steep hills with the dogs racing after me.

Had more errands to do so after dropping the dogs off at home to sleep off the long run, my errands took me back to Starbucks and this time the internet was working.

The bike built up a fair bit of snow on the frame/brakes so that it didn't feel like the brakes were working at all descending steep hills during the first part of the ride. Once I dragged the brakes a few minutes though, they began working normally again. Something to be careful about when cycling in snow!

The worst thing about winter cycling besides the cold is snow/salt building up all over the bicycle. The Trek has been sitting in the basement for about a week after cleaning it up from the last road salt. I don't mind fresh snow on the bicycle but salt is something to be avoided like the plague due to corrosion that it causes. I've already seen rust forming on my brand new chain! The rear gear cluster is getting plugged up with snow in the high gears which I seldom used today. After a melt session in the basement it should be ready to go again.

I do suggest replacing any chain that has been used during winter riding. There are just too many joints where salt can get into the rollers and cause rapid wear and it is much cheaper just to replace the chain every spring and save wear and tear on gears. With plenty of experience using motorcycles with chains I can tell you that traveling with an excessively worn chain which could break any second on a long ride happened is a nasty experience. I was very worried that I might not even get home. At the start of the ride, everything seemed fine. It was during the ride that the rapidly deteriorating chain began making loud chattering noises and threatening to destroy gears and snap the chain off.

Although changing the rear gear cluster is simple enough once you buy the proper tool for removing it, the front gears tend to be much more difficult to change on some bicycles because you need a special tool to apply one hell of a lot of force to pull the gears off the crank axle. Changing a chain each spring is the best insurance against broken chains on long rides and reducing wear on gears.

With motorcycle chains I used to get a metal pot and throw the chain in along with enough engine oil to cover the whole thing. Then heat the pot on a stove until it started to smoke a little. Letting it cool then allows oil to be sucked into the rollers for better lubrication. However, it is a time consuming task and most bicycle chain cleaners will do the job with less time and fuss. Just be aware that using solvents in a bicycle chain cleaning tool is never a good idea. Solvents remove oil from the rollers which is exactly where you want the oil to stay. You can get as clean a chain by using lightweight oil, say S.A.E. 10 oil and you won't be removing any oil from the rollers. The actual wear on chains occurs where you can't see the wear (inside the rollers where a link pin goes through).

There isn't much wear required with a chain before you need to replace it or ruin your gears. Take an accurate ruler which has increments of 1/32". Line up the ruler and measure twelve inches of chain using the pins as a guide. If the pins close to the 12" mark are 1/32 longer than 12 inches, there is considerable wear but you can still use the chain for a while longer. If you have 1/16" wear replace the chain ASAP. With 1/8" of wear, your chain is long past the time it should have been replaced and you will most likely see curled ends on your gear teeth.

What's a bicycle ride in Calgary without at least one imbicile driving a car? This stupid lady pulled right out in front of me on a sidewalk and blocked the sidewalk so I couldn't get by. So I hammered on her car telling her to get off the sidewalk.

Expecting Calgary drivers to stop blocking sidewalks and cutting off cyclists/pedestrians reaps the same results as expecting a retard to win the Nobel Prize! This narrow minded and selfish behaviour is responsible for much of the animosity between cyclists, pedestrians and stupid drivers who have never achieved basic driving skills, let alone be considerate of anyone else's rights. Drivers are responsible for senseless slaughter every day of the year. Cyclists on the other hand, seldom kill anyone which is why cyclists do not require insurance to use a bicycle.

When approaching a sidewalk, drivers are required to stop before crossing and give pedestrians the right of way. After checking that the sidewalk is clear and only when it is safe to cross the sidewalk, is a driver to proceed over the sidewalk. How many people do you know who actually stop before crossing a sidewalk including yourself?

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