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It’s a nice day for a bike ride

Posted by on December 15th, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Saw lots of smiles (and a lot of MTBs) out on the streets this morning.(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Saw lots of smiles (and a lot of MTBs) out on the streets this morning.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland is still covered in a layer of snow after a storm last night.

If you can manage it, the biking is quite nice. Roads are much quieter than usual because people are driving slower and schools and many businesses are closed.

Conditions vary, but so far not much of a thaw has started. The snow is sticky on side roads and you’ll find more slush on major ones. I rode from north near Peninsula Park down to the central eastside this morning and didn’t encounter any major icy spots. It felt safe — and it was fun!

I didn’t see a ton of bikes out there, but the people I did see riding usually had a big smile on their face.

snow-esplanadepath

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Biketown station in Rose Quarter nearly empty. Bike share has proven itself as a reliable and viable transit option during inclement weather.
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snow-smiling

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Bus, feet, and bike… That’s how to do it Portland! Lots more people made good decisions today.

If you do head out, I highly recommend knobby tires, flat handlebars, a slightly lower saddle height, a helmet, and low tire pressure.

Have fun out there! And we’ve got our fingers crossed that tonight’s commute will be much better than last night.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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28 Comments
  • rick December 15, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    So awesome to peacefully ride on SW Walker Road !

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    • abomb December 16, 2016 at 5:34 am

      I drove yesterday and it was great. Everyone who cant drive in the snow stayed home. I would of rode my bike in the morning but by the evening hours the roads were pretty much ice. I have lots of hills on my commute so that makes it way more dangerous. But Wednesday I wish I would of rode my bike. That was a horrible commute by car.

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  • soren December 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    there are many large patches of sheet ice at intersections in the inner south east. if you turn on these it’s likely you will go down…

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. December 15, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Something about this weather makes me want to go ride to a bar and knock back a couple beers. 🙂

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    • Brian December 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Why stop at one? This is bar-hopping weather!

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  • Champs December 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    For a couple of years I took some shots at “winterizing” my bike in Minneapolis by switching to flat bars, studded tires, and various drivetrain changes. One winter I kept the drops, slicks (28mm), etc. It didn’t make much difference.

    It’s easy to overstate the importance of gear. If you are warm and take your time, everything will be OK.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. December 15, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I rode in Chicago one winter on 32c slicks and was fine. Though my bike was fairly upright. I ride this bike yesterday and never lost traction once. Upright, large low-pressure tires, enclosed drivetrain, and roller brakes all added up an amazingly stable winter ride.

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      • Todd Boulanger December 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm

        and go slow…

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. December 16, 2016 at 12:08 am

        Yes, slow is key. Easy to do on a 50 lb bike. I went for ride this evening and it was quite icy, but my Workcycles handled it well.

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    • mh December 15, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Just don’t use your brakes. My 28s, flat bars and slightly paranoid riding got me a cracked head last year when I slowed for a contested intersection on a hill. I’m sure the toe clips didn’t help.

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    • q'Tzal December 15, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      You can definitely ride slicks on glass-smooth sheets of black ice….
      … as long as you change speed and direction very VERY delicately!

      This acquired skill has made winter truck driving much easier; I have a sharply honed sense of just how little traction I have to work with. And the queasy feeling when my rear wheel on my bike, or trailer on the truck, start going in directions they aren’t supposed to. Wyoming is fun in the winter.

      OTOH: with the carbide studded tires I didn’t have to worry about the re-frozen slush ruts on the road flipping me line a light rail line. As long as it had ice on it I could almost climb the surface vertically. With slicks the briney-slushy-puddles were safe as long as you could maintain that exact wheel track: it might be feet or mere inches. The sidewalks were where the +3′ piles of snow got piled by the plows so the only place to ride was in a road made even more narrow by mountains of snow.

      If you were commuting in traffic in this the studded tires gave you the option to ride anywhere on the road and even bailout over insane terrain when someone lost control of their vehicle.

      Not strictly necessary but in traffic definitely a bonus.

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      • Ted Buehler December 15, 2016 at 8:07 pm

        “You can definitely ride slicks on glass-smooth sheets of black ice…”

        Are you sure? I just tried it, and it didn’t meet my definition of “ride.”

        Riding is where I get on my bike, pedal around, go where I want to go.

        I just ran some errands on a mountain bike with a slick rear tire and a front tire with some tread. This wasn’t a “ride.” It was more of an out-of-control launch forward on the crown of the road, pedaling just fast enough to stay upright, and being ready to put a foot down if I started to go towards one side or another, or needed to stop.

        I’ve ridden on a fair number of wintery roads, and tonight Portland’s residential streets are as slick as I’ve ever recall seeing. Even the roughness added by chained tires doesn’t really give any purchase.

        Be careful out there, folks, walking, bicycling, skiing or anything else.

        Ted Buehler

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. December 16, 2016 at 12:17 am

        I rode my Workcycles tonight and had zero problems. Probably due to the 50 lb frame and Big Apple tires.

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      • soren December 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

        It is as slick as I have ever seen it in some areas. Even 4wd vehicles have no traction on the polished ice on my road. I personally went down twice (safely) and I have mad (midwestern) winter cycling skills.

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      • jeff December 16, 2016 at 11:48 am

        hardtail MTB with racing tread. about 30 PSI. probably ridden 40 miles overall the past 3 days. Haven’t slipped once. Haven’t even really slowed down that much.

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      • soren December 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm

        i guess i’m chicken because i slowed down when i descended from ohsu. (i typically hit 35-40 on the way down).

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      • Kyle Banerjee December 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        I also love bombing down those curves, but even if the slick stuff weren’t an issue, the debris is. Night time visibility doesn’t help either.

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      • q'Tzal December 16, 2016 at 12:21 pm

        4WD… snort, snicker, PFFFFT!

        I so loved my winter tradition of pulling up to the line at a red light next to a 4WD driver with “drag race fever”.
        Of course he won’t lose to my wimpy Saturn stationwagon because <many chest thumping> he’s got 4WD!

        But my wimpy car had the best rated traction control for that price range of car.
        Every time I’d just drive through the intersection like normal and the 4WD driver would spinout; sometimes they’d slide whichever way was downhill.

        4WD helps with very uneven surfaces not slick, smooth roads.

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      • Kyle Banerjee December 16, 2016 at 11:00 am

        Low pressure slicks work fine on level ice and even inclines if there is rock/debris for grip.

        But without debris or studs it’s absolutely impossible to climb inclines and going down them is very dangerous.

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      • soren December 16, 2016 at 12:48 pm

        every 4wd vehicle attempting to go up by my house spun out and had to reverse downhill slowly (providing extra entertainment while watching the last episodes of westworld). i tried riding up our little hill 6 times, fell twice, and gave up each time due to a complete loss of traction.

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  • Goff V December 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    It’s amazing how effective just lowering tire pressures and riding a bit slower/more mindful can be. Every time I get cocky and try to ride faster on snow/ice, I crash.

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    • mh December 15, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      I’m already riding at Berto-low pressures. With 28s, I can’t get a lot more rubber on the road.

      Anyone have a kid’s mountain bike they’d like to lend me for the season?

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  • Kimberlee December 15, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Hey – that’s me in the grey coat in the background in the last photo! A little bit trickier today than yesterday, but still tons of fun!

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  • stephan December 15, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    I have not heard anything about the idea to clear neighborhood streets, including bike steeets, instead of highways. Probably utopic but I figure I bring it up because some cities pay attention to clearing bike lanes from snow and ice. In this snow storm, vehicles with plows got stuck in traffic and thus were made useless. This strikes me as a bad strategy that is fixated on clearing highways to minimize commuting time. Might sound good on paper but it does not work with so many cars on these roads.

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  • Spiffy December 16, 2016 at 7:14 am

    I saw 3 bikes on Foster and 2 on Holgate… and I was only out there about an hour…

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  • Anna December 16, 2016 at 8:54 am

    we were on holgate/foster! Pugsley and a disc trucker. Best date night ever.

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  • was carless December 16, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I finally broke down and bought a pair of Continental Nordic Spike studded tires for my Gary Fisher bike. They are amazing!

    Sticks to ice like racing slicks on dry pavement.

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  • Bob December 16, 2016 at 10:55 am

    I rode to PSU from Roseway, and had no problem. Icy in spots, but mostly had a bit of crunch to it. I pulled out the 80s rigid mtb with wide low-pressure tires. The worst section was between the B’way Bridge and Burnside, the bike lane was covered in ice/snow/ruts so I took the lane. The bridge had been completely de-iced, however.

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