Over the weekend, my friend and fellow “Bring it on Old Man Winter” 4-season commuter Tony Berger proudly posted he was removing his studded tires and cleaning the drive train on his commuter bike. At the time I thought it was a bad idea, but I didn’t want to spoil his hopeful attitude by reminding him of April snow storms of years past.
One year not so long ago, I remember riding my single speed mtb through more than a foot of snow on my way to the Wheel & Sprocket Bike Expo at State Fair Park. I still have that bike and it is still shod with studded sneakers. I also left the studs on my Dutchified Schwinn commuter. I do have a couple other commuter bikes sitting in my stable, so I was able to roll smooth and fast on the warmer days the last couple weeks.
While I do have at least four dedicated commuter bikes, I have collected them over the many years I have been riding. I bought them all used and added things like fenders and used chain guards and dynamo hubs to tweak them to address slightly different problems: ice-covered trails, need to haul heavy loads, deep snow, etc. Having more than one bike to commute on may seem excessive, but I think of them like tools. I have more than one screw driver in my toolbox too.
The one exception to drawer full of inexpensive commuter tools is my Schlick Northpaw Fatbike. That is one of the few bikes I bought new and added all new components too, including ridiculously expensive 45Nrth Dillinger studded tires. Did I need it? Absolutely not, but because of it, I embraced the polar vortex and totally enjoyed this long winter.
Like Popeye, even I have my limit. With the snow and icy Hank Aaron State Trail this morning, I admit that’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!