Bicycling Update

May 13th, 2010

I’ve been bicycling to work for awhile now. It’s become pretty much routine for dry days. I can reliably ride the 10 miles to work in less than an hour, even with heavy winds.

My biggest enemy right now: rain. My first few miles are on gravel and sand roads, which aren’t maintained to the highest of standards. When it rains, there will be mud. I ride a Trek 7.3FX, which I bought with the idea of just riding when it’s dry. It works quite well for that. But its slick tires don’t work so well in mud. Plus our mud is sticky, and the tires pick it up, then deposit it on the frame that goes around the wheel and the brake arm. So I have a mess to clean up.

My current dilemma is: do I buy a second bike for use when it’s wet, or there’s a chance of rain? My 7.3FX can’t use tires that are very wide, and a different bike of course could. There would be expense involved, obviously, but I would really like to be able to ride more often than I can now. Winter was pretty damp here and I didn’t get to ride much at all over the winter months. Or, would different tires plus fenders do the trick on the 7.3FX? (I’m thinking not.)

If I do get a different bike, then the question would be whether to sell the 7.3FX. I really like that bike, and imagine it would be faster on the 7 miles or so of paved roads that I ride every day. Perhaps I’d keep it as a fair weather or long-distance bike.

I plan to visit the bike shop tonight and see what my options are.

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  1. Darrin Thompson

    You’re going to the bike shop to find out if you need a new rain bike? My money is you already made your decision… ;-)

    Have fun!

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    Well, the other option is to put different tires plus fenders on the current bike. I am not sure which is the best bet just yet. Obviously not having to buy a new bike would be more economical, but I don’t know if it would work as well.

    Reply

  2. Pier

    Hi.
    Something like this: http://www.nationalbicycleco.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=967
    Anyway that Trek is a nice bike :-)

    Reply

  3. NC

    I would recommend cyclo-cross tires (which should fit, I have the older version of your bike basically and they work for me) and fenders.

    Reply

  4. Greg

    Instead of changing the bike, how about changing the endpoints of the ride? Qualcomm in San Diego is a nice place to work. :-)

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=S+Sierra+Ave&daddr=McKellar+Ct&hl=en&geocode=FXpp9wEdEo4C-Q%3BFV4T9gEddqYD-Q&mra=ls&dirflg=b&sll=32.908631,-117.215281&sspn=0.053539,0.064459&ie=UTF8&ll=32.945734,-117.236309&spn=0.107033,0.128918&z=13&lci=bike

    Reply

  5. Don Stewart

    I’d recommend looking at cyclocross tires, or a cyclocross bike in general. Some good ones from:

    * Kona, http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=majorjake
    * Salsa http://www.salsacycles.com/laCruzComp08.html
    * Surly, http://www.surlybikes.com/crosscheck_comp.html

    these are tough road bikes, designed for dry or wet or muddy conditions.

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I visited my local bike shop today, and am looking at either replacing the 7.3FX with a Specialized Tricross Sport Triple or adding a Canondale F7 mountain bike. I’m not familiar enough yet with bikes to feel comfortable buying something that I haven’t seen locally.

    My main concern is just how well the CX bike will do in my sticky mud. Will I find that I just can’t get down the muddy road without the 2.1″ tire of the MTB? Or will it just be slower/more annoying? If the latter, I think I’d like the CX bike for the greater speed (on both wet and dry days).

    (The LBS also suggested a Cannondale Cyclocross 6, but didn’t have a demo unit on site, and I neglected to write down the differences from the Specialized.)

    Reply

    Sean Duckett Reply:

    Look for a tire like the Ritchey Speedmax or WTB Interwolf; something with low profile center tread and enough side-knobs to hold on to the gravel. The wider the tire, the more you’ll float, so a 2.1″ (55mm) tire won’t cut through the mud as easily as a 32-38mm tire. Both clear mud easily, and should fit in a decent CX frame, with fenders, pretty well.

    +1 on Don’s recommendations; I’d also add that in muddy conditions, mechanical disc brakes are a winner (less muck grinding noisily against your rims)

    Reply

  6. Kirklin

    Can you arrange to keep your bike at a friends place on the highway…and drive from your house to there? Or even the church?

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    I’ve thought about some of those options. Really what I want to do is have the bicycle as my default mode of transportation rather than the car. If I’m storing the bicycle away from home, it is difficult to maintain, take out for a quick ride, etc. Transporting it to the highway in the car requires removing a child seat, folding down a back seat, and fitting it in there. It works, but it’s a hassle, and our pickup isn’t reliable enough to be expected to work in winter.

    But really it all comes down to: in our society we rely on gas, cars, and oil too much. I want to do what I can to avoid that, to get to where gasoline is no longer essential for my day-to-day life. If it’s still essential when our roads are wet, I haven’t got there yet.

    Reply

    Kirklin Reply:

    Maybe we will get a couple horses…to mitigate the dilemma :) You could keep your bike at Ralph’s and ride a horse back and forth from there.

    Reply

  7. Don Stewart

    > Specialized Tricross Sport Triple

    I just aquired a Tricross Comp, I love it! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4564666&id=660195979

    In real mud you’ll want true cross tires (the tricross lower end come with a hybrid road tire).

    Reply

  8. Kirklin

    So, tell us about your new bike :)

    Reply

  9. Bicycling in Rain and Mud | The Changelog

    […] recently posted here about bicycling in the mud and rain, and got some good suggestions (and also on the icebike mailing […]

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