What a difference a day makes

The two photos below were taken 24 hours apart. It was sunny and 55 degrees Wednesday afternoon, so I left the office a little early and took the really, really long way home, which added about 41 miles to my typical 3.3 mile commute. Yesterday’s commute home in our first real snow storm was a different story.


The ride home yesterday on the left, 25 degrees and blowing snow. The long way home after work Wednesday, 55 degrees and sunny.

The bike of choice for long way home was my 1984 Trek 620. Knowing it was going to snow in the afternoon yesterday, I pulled my Schwinn 5 speed internally geared hub commuter bike out, which has been fitted with Nokian A10 studded sneakers for a while now.

This morning I plan on riding my Schlick Northpaw to work. I will add a photo after I shovel out the sidewalk and get to the office, so check back later today for an updated post. I plan on taking side streets and a combination of mountain bike trails and unplowed multi-use trails the whole way to work. I use my bike for transportation, but I enjoy it so much, I typically go out of my way to make my ride to work longer or more of an adventure somehow.

How was your ride to work in the snow? You either love Wisconsin weather … or you move.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

12 thoughts on “What a difference a day makes

  1. Best commute to work EVER this morning! Lots of fish tailing and sliding. Felt like a little kid the whole time- even giggled to myself a bit

  2. i agree with Casey. Rode the new Berlin trail home last night in the snow. Decided to ride out past my home an extra 10 miles. Pure bliss. The ride in this morning was fast wet and slippery. Yes!!!

  3. i want to venture out with my road bike but i’m a little nervous about biffing it big time and never rode through snow before. i only have the one bike, just a simple jamis beatnik. any suggestions for riding in this kind of crazy weather? thanks.

    • Hey Laurie, I guess it depends a bit on where you live. If you live in an urban area, the main streets are usually plowed pretty well. You may have to ride out in the plowed area if the roads are not clear to the curb or parking area, and the cars will have to go around you. That is just standard procedure in the winter. But in Milwaukee, all the couriers ride skinny tires and fixes all winter long.

      If your streets or trails are not plowed, I think you will find that you can manage on your fixie with skinny tires. You can expect a little sliding around, as Casey mentioned above, but don’t worry too much about falling. Since you are going slow, just keep your feet loose from the pedals so you can be ready in case you need to put a foot down. That means loosen your toe straps if you use toe clips, or ride with your feet unclipped if you have clipless pedals. If you just use platforms, you are set.

      If you are running your Beatnik as a single speed rather than a fixie, remember your brakes will not work very well when you first apply them. You need to apply the brakes early, with light pressure to clear some of the moisture off the rims, then squeeze harder. This is similar to riding in the rain.

      Give it a try and see how it goes. Riding in the snow just takes a bit of practice. Since you just have the one bike, you might consider adding the fattest with some tread tires your frame will fit.

      I do suggest you wear a helmet. The only thing to be a bit cautious of is ice. When you hit black ice, it is very hard to stay upright and that helmet could come in handy.

      Good luck and report back here to let us know how it went after you give your first snow ride a try!

  4. When it comes to winter biking, everyone has a different method to the madness. I swear by studded tires, because they allow me to commute on quieter side streets. Since side streets are not plowed as much as the main drags, they have a lot less auto traffic. If you fall down and there’s no cars around no big deal. I will ride on high traffic streets in the winter, but I find quiet side streets with studded tires just more fun. It’s like cross country skiing on two wheels.

  5. Taking it easy still after being sick but the ride to work this morning was FUN! Rode the xtracycle with cross tires and the heavy bike makes it a breeze getting around. Felt like winter riding for the first time today.

  6. I want you to know that Ive just moved to Florida this year, and that I MISS winter biking more than I could POSSIBLY ever verbalize! I left behind a Specialized Hard Rock with super tires named “El Toro” …. le sigh ….. Its nice to pull the Orbea out every day, but I sure do miss the crunch of snow under my tires.

    • Thanks for keeping in touch Casey. I watch old episodes of Flipper when I get the winter doldrums and wish I could jet off to the Keys. I’m trying to think of the reverse for you, winter episodes of Laverne and Shirley come to mind, but I don’t remember a lot of scenes outside. I guess Fargo is about the closest you can get, and that won’t make you want to move back. Maybe there is a reason people move to Florida, and not Wisconsin…

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