Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm Getting Pumped! And then Deflated!

Around March of the last few of years, I begin to ache for Spring and open bike paths and an end to riding through heavy snow, rain and dirty slush. Around now, the last few years, I start getting excited to ride in all that stuff all over again. Don't get me wrong, dirty slush is not really my thing, but the joys and challenges and beauty of winter riding in London Ontario most definitely are.

I intend to wax poetic about all that stuff as winter progresses and camera provides in the coming months, so I'll stop there for now. I've got to get cracking on cleaning up my winter bike, (named "Winter", if you'll recall) right NOW. Of course there's no snow yet, but snow before the end of October is not unheard of, and I don't want to miss any of the precious first snows before the paths get packed down, icy, pocked up and almost impossible to ride.

Another reason I need her ready is that I like to ride the bike on dry, non-icy roads before things get bad, so that when they do I have re-adjusted to having gears, a freewheel, disc brakes, flat bars and most of all a high centre of gravity, thanks to that crazy tub on the back. During that fair-weather period, I run the knobby, studded MTB tires at as high a pressure as I can in the interest of speed. They sound like rice crispies when you ride on bare pavement. The worse conditions get through the winter, however, the more air I let out. It is not uncommon for me to run at 20 psi in mid-winter, since it increases the size of your contact patch, and provides some "float" over packed snow.

Well, it took me a while, but now you know where that title came from. This is the first winter that I'll be blogging here in a steady way, with the camera and all that. I'm really looking forward to sharing some of what makes winter riding so very crappy and so unbelievably great.

Wishing you all a happy Winter Deflation,



Steve A said...

This promises to be more interesting than thunderstorms.

We don't see studded tires down here. It gets slippery, everybody takes the day off. It's either a perk or a curse of not living in the great frozen north.

nick said...

What brand is that seatpost-mounted rack? I'm thinking about getting something like that- I assume this is a good one if it's still on your bike.

RANTWICK said...

Steve - Very few (if any) cars use 'em here, and they're pretty rare on bikes too. On ice, however, I have come to believe in them quite a lot.

Nick - there's nothing special about that rack... it's made by Axiom, and is a replacement under warranty because the first one started to crack at the seatpost joint despite never being loaded above rated spec. Most major bike accessory makers have something nearly identical.

Rollz said...

What kind of studded tires do you have? Are you happy with them? What's your favorite colour?

RANTWICK said...

Rollz - I have Schwalbe "Snow Stud" 26" tires. This model has been replaced by "Marathon Winter". I have been very happy with them. I got them at, but I don't know if they still stock good studded tires.

I found it difficult to find any local bike shops that stocked the higher quality studded tires found here:

I suspect that most normal people would be quite happy with cheaper models, but once I read the stuff in that link I was screwed, and determined to get the better ones.

My favourite colour is Green.

Todd S. said...

I'd love to be able to put on some snow tires here and go for a spin. Not going to happen though.

Did I mention it was 98 degrees F here today? Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Peter White is a great resource, but Niagara Cycle Works ( has a nice selection. They also ship USPS. They stock both Schwable and Nokian studded tires.

RANTWICK said...

Anon - thanks for the niagara link and info. For Canadian readers, I checked and they are still selling Schwalbe winter tires.

They appear to be selling the snow studs I've got still... if I needed tires right now I would prefer the marathon winter, which has a row of studs down the centre.

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