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Okie Outdoorsman

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Reply with quote  #1 
Just wanted to start a new thread on Winter commuting by gravel bike.  This is my first year in giving it a try.  I have had a blast!  It is challenging, but rewarding.  Learning how to find the right combinations of gear/clothing that works in the cold and wet has been a real eye-opener for me.  I am very glad that there are fellow riders who share what works for them on the web and post their tips and viewpoints.

Here is a picture of my Giant Revolt 1 rigged for Winter commuting duty:

bike.JPG 
I love the bar mitts!  They look a little strange, but last week when it was 21 degrees F., on the ride into work, I didn't care what they looked like.  Just loved the warmth they provided.  Rode home, that evening, in the pouring rain at just above freezing.  Found out that they are water resistant, as well.

I posted some further information on my bike rigged for commuting on my cycling blog, if you are interested:
http://www.okieoutdoors.blogspot.com

Am running the Clement MSO's with full fenders.  The fenders have sure helped in the wet and yuck.  They sure keep me cleaner during the commute.  

My commute is a little over 16 miles, each way.  I am not fast, so it usually takes me a little less than an hour and a half to do the ride.  About half of my ride is gravel, and the other half is paved.  I can do all paved, if I want, but choose to do the gravel on most of my rides.

Would love to hear from others commuting this Winter, and post-up what works good for you...
[smile]



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Laeljon

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Reply with quote  #2 
Okie....what headlight are U using? I commuted for few yrs in Mustang, Okla and now have been commuting in Northern N.M. I used an old MTB with fenders and found that, in white out snow conditions would ice the cassette and fenders to the point of raising the chain off of cassette and spin or fenders would clog with ice. Went with a road SS for awhile. Now gravel bike with Rohloff hub and no problems..... DSCN3483.JPG

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Okie Outdoorsman

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Reply with quote  #3 
That's a nice looking rig, Laeljon.  Am running two Cygolite Expilion 850's on a topeak bar extender that is mounted to my stem.  They throw-out plenty of light and I carry a spare battery for them, but have never had to use it.  Usually don't run them on the brightest output setting, but do so from time to time.  I ran a pair of Cygolite Metro 300's before, and wanted just a little more light than they produced, also, I like having a spare battery with me.  I recharge them from USB when I get to work for the ride back home.  I am a novice at the winter riding and have not rode in the ice or snow, so don't have any experiences from that perspective to relate.  Probably will limit my winter riding to above freezing in wet conditions, and dry roads below.  Have thought about a fat bike, though, for the snow and ice.
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Laeljon

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thank You, I have commuted in every type of weather: from rain, white-out snow storms, -17 F below. Have to wear goggles below 8 degrees to keep eye-lids from freezing shut....Most of my commute is from 4:00pm to 3:00am DSCN3416.JPG 
Code:
DSCN3416.JPG


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Craig

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Reply with quote  #5 
My commute involves equal amounts of asphalt, gravel and dirt for about 50 miles. Yesterday during the rain I discovered that gravel has the added advantage of not puddling as much as asphalt and dirt and much less spray off of the tires. The water is under the gravel and not sitting on top in contact with the tires. It will probably take me longer to clean the bike than it did to ride home!
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xhx

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Reply with quote  #6 
Throwing myself at the mercy of those with more experience. I have most of my commute and general cold riding gear dialed in except for my feet. Currently have a pair of Lake MXZ303 sized correctly, with enough room in the toe box without slopping around. I've tried every combination of single layer socks of varying thicknesses, double layering the same, and adding a vapor barrier. Even the $$ waterproof socks.
Regardless of what I wear, 45-60 minutes in to the ride my toes go cold, then my feet go numb. When I pull the boots off after the ride I can feel in the boot that the toe box is substantially colder than the rest of the shoe. Anyone have advice, or do I just need to htfu & get used to numb toes?
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #7 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xhx
Throwing myself at the mercy of those with more experience. I have most of my commute and general cold riding gear dialed in except for my feet. Currently have a pair of Lake MXZ303 sized correctly, with enough room in the toe box without slopping around. I've tried every combination of single layer socks of varying thicknesses, double layering the same, and adding a vapor barrier. Even the $$ waterproof socks. Regardless of what I wear, 45-60 minutes in to the ride my toes go cold, then my feet go numb. When I pull the boots off after the ride I can feel in the boot that the toe box is substantially colder than the rest of the shoe. Anyone have advice, or do I just need to htfu & get used to numb toes?


I've been commuting now for about 10 years here in Colorado, and I've seen all sorts of crazy weather. If you haven't already tried some, you didn't mention any, thick shoe covers, they even make them in an insulated version now. My commute of about 18 miles takes me right around an hour to an hour and 10 minutes in the winter due to all the extra gear, but if I only wear a toe cover with wool socks, I'm in the same place you're talking about being in. But, when I do use proper shoe covers (with wool socks) my feet are much less cold when I get to work, they're still cold, but they're not turning purple, like they would without. 

I also have a pair of Specialized Defroster shoes, and those are pretty bad at keeping my feet warm, they help a bit, but still cold toes around 30-40 minutes. 

When I'm out fatbiking, I use a pair of hiking boots with Gortex, and I'm good for several hours, still chilly, but they're the best cold weather shoe I use, but they're only good for flat pedals.. You could always go with a pair of 45NRTH Wolfgar or Wolvhammer, the fatbike crowd love both of those, and they're SPD compatible. 

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xhx

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Reply with quote  #8 
These Lake boots are supposed to be up there with 45NRTH's boots, just more widely available. The shoe+cover setup usually gets me down to the 40s or freezing for longer rides, so I reasoned that these boots would be great for longer & colder rides. They seem to insulate everything on the boot well but the toe :/
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xhx
These Lake boots are supposed to be up there with 45NRTH's boots, just more widely available. The shoe+cover setup usually gets me down to the 40s or freezing for longer rides, so I reasoned that these boots would be great for longer & colder rides. They seem to insulate everything on the boot well but the toe :/


They looks pretty similar to the Defrosters from the red S, and after reading a couple reviews, they say they're not as good for cold as the 45NRTH:
http://dirtragmag.com/review-lake-mxz303-winter-boots/

They said they were tempted to order the insoles from the 45NRTH to help with the draft from the bottom of the sole. Might be worth a shot? 
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Okie Outdoorsman

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Reply with quote  #10 
For the last two winters, have used the 45nrth Fasterkatts.  Have found that these are good down to 25 deg. F., just like they are rated.  Have used them in the teens with the chemical toe warmers.  My commute takes anywhere from an hour and fifteen minutes, to an hour and a half, depending upon conditions.  Had a few rides when my toes would be cold, with the Fasterkatts, but not hurting cold. This winter I got a pair of the 45nrth Wulvhammers.  Have only had a few rides in them, but they do the trick!  Rode two hours, yesterday on a non-commute ride, with temps in the lower teens, and climbing up into the lower 20's.  Toes stayed toasty the entire ride.  I have been really impressed with this re-designed Wulvhammer boots.  Have found my boot for my extreme cold commutes. Liked them so much that I got my son a pair of them, also, for his winter rides.   
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Rainysunny

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Reply with quote  #11 
There are also now electrically heated socks you can purchase. No experience but sounded interesting...
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #12 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainysunny
There are also now electrically heated socks you can purchase. No experience but sounded interesting...


Funny you should mention that, these were featured in a bikerumor article, https://www.flambeauoutdoors.com/Heated-Gear/Socks

I asked for them for x-mas, but no bites... I'll pick some up, and report back.

Cheers,
Greg

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7rider

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Reply with quote  #13 
I have a relatively easy 3.5 mile winter commute here in Silicon Valley. The rain is manageable with fenders and knickers, windbreaker with a thermal top, and Gore Windstopper gloves keep me warm. The biggest hazard is when it becomes cold enough for frost to form on the long wood bridge I have to cross. I’ve slid out a few times when my tires have lost traction. Any tire or riding suggestions on how to deal with icy surfaces would be suggested. Right now I’m running 38mm Challenge Gravel Grinders.

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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_slow



Funny you should mention that, these were featured in a bikerumor article, https://www.flambeauoutdoors.com/Heated-Gear/Socks

I asked for them for x-mas, but no bites... I'll pick some up, and report back.

Cheers,
Greg



Wanted to share my initial experience.

Rode in yesterday using these socks, temperature was 19°F, and I put the socks on the low setting. Total time on the bike was about 1H15min with stoplights and the commute, toes and feet were very comfortable. Rode in today, using some thick wool socks (my old go to), temperature was 28°F, as per usual my toes started to feel the cold around 30 minutes in, total time on the bike was 1H10min, and my toes and feet were very cold by the time I got to work. So, the socks are great!

One other advantage to socks, over a full winter boot (I use winter riding shoes), last night it was 42°F on the ride home, and I was able to simple take the batteries out and not run the socks with the heater on, stayed perfectly warm.

Cheers,
Greg

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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #15 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7rider
I have a relatively easy 3.5 mile winter commute here in Silicon Valley. The rain is manageable with fenders and knickers, windbreaker with a thermal top, and Gore Windstopper gloves keep me warm. The biggest hazard is when it becomes cold enough for frost to form on the long wood bridge I have to cross. I’ve slid out a few times when my tires have lost traction. Any tire or riding suggestions on how to deal with icy surfaces would be suggested. Right now I’m running 38mm Challenge Gravel Grinders.


A bit delayed here, but the only thing that is good for ice, are studs... I would keep running the tires you currently have, as the added weight and rolling resistance wouldn't be worth your time, since you're in California. If you lived in the mid west or the north east, I would say get some studs, but even here in Colorado, I feel they're overkill (unless you live in the mountains).

Cheers,
Greg

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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_slow



Funny you should mention that, these were featured in a bikerumor article, https://www.flambeauoutdoors.com/Heated-Gear/Socks

I asked for them for x-mas, but no bites... I'll pick some up, and report back.

Cheers,
Greg



mr_slow hate to tell you this but those socks have been out a long time. I haven't hunted in more than 10 yeas and had a pair of them years ago. I might be dating myself here but they are so old I thing they ran on size D batteries which are the pita being so heavy. What size battery does the new socks run on and how many?


Nobody mention it here but my friend in Colorado told me to try this and it seems to work. Buy a cheapo pair of mt. bike shoes at least 2 sizes bigger and then you can wear multiple layers of socks and still have room for toe warmers in there.

Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurichman


mr_slow hate to tell you this but those socks have been out a long time. I haven't hunted in more than 10 yeas and had a pair of them years ago. I might be dating myself here but they are so old I thing they ran on size D batteries which are the pita being so heavy. What size battery does the new socks run on and how many?


Nobody mention it here but my friend in Colorado told me to try this and it seems to work. Buy a cheapo pair of mt. bike shoes at least 2 sizes bigger and then you can wear multiple layers of socks and still have room for toe warmers in there.

Zman


I'm fine with them not being new, sometimes new stuff sucks more than things of old. It does seem, however, they've changed a lot since then, as they use small (2"x3"x5mm (maybe smaller, don't have them on me to measure)) rechargeable batteries. They also use a carbon fiber heating element, which allows you to wash them. Again, I would highly recommend them.

I've tried the multiple layers of socks, it works, sort of. It all depends on what you consider cold, and how your circulation is. I have cold feet most of the time, so multiple socks, do just as well as a wool sock, for me. I have dedicated "winter" shoes from Specialized, which both of these "tests" were run in.
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