Category Archives: Riding Tips

Tips on charging your electric bike to maximize the batteries life

Having a fully charged battery is important. The most expensive component of an electric bike is the battery and the motor. Today most ready-to-go e-bikes use a lithium-ion battery pack and the size of the bikes makes a difference in the price you will pay.

These lithium-ion batteries are now used in all types of applications. So it’s no surprise to find them powering electric bikes. What you will discover, more expensive e-bikes have higher-tech batteries that are lighter, charge quickly, and last longer. Batteries degrade over time, holding less charge as they age.

The quality of an electric bike battery makes a difference

The better the battery is will help you maximize the distance (range) you expect to achieve, so look for a reputable named battery manufacturer. Then make sure the warranty covers the battery for at least two years. Conservatively lithium-ion batteries are typically said to last for 1,000 full charge cycles. That’s about three years of daily with five to seven charging periods a week. With careful use, the battery can survive longer, so you could possibly double its life with half-charge cycles. In practice, battery life of several years is quite easy to achieve depending on how often you charge and store the battery.

A centerpost battery for an electric bike

A center post battery unit for an electric bike

To maximize the life of your electric bike battery

  • Ride your bike a lot and charge it often
  • If your bike comes with a smart charger, faithfully disconnect the charger within 24 hours
  • When not in use, for a week or more, charge the battery to only 40% to 70% of its capacity
  • Then store the battery or bike and battery in a cool dry place, above freezing, Checking and the charge every two to three weeks to keep it in that range.

For more information

Be sure to mark your calendar for the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis or visit a local bike shop in your area that sells and services electric bikes.

There have been many improvements to electric bikes over the last few years and before checking them out here are a couple questions that should be asked.

Choosing an electric bike for your style of bicycle riding

You have probably heard about electric bikes (e-bikes) and the improvements the industry has made over the past couple of years. If you are curious, ask a couple of questions before purchasing an e-bike and the fun adventures ahead.

First, ask yourself, how will I use an electric bike

  • maybe commuting to work, running errands, and/or hauling cargo
  • bike touring or just some recreational riding to stay active
  • spending more time on off-road trails
  • assist me while rehabbing after a sports injury?

Then ask

  • will an e-bike make it easier for me to stay active
  • make it more enjoyable, especially when dealing with hills and headwinds
  • help so I can keep up with my friends who ride faster?

As electric bike technology continues to progress quickly, with lighter batteries and offer you a better range between charges, the options are endless. Today there are bikes for every conceivable application, from hauling cargo to making a climb on a mountain bike a breeze.

Geared to accommodate different kinds of activities (cargo-hauling; relaxed cruising; trail riding; mountain biking; child transportation; road biking; fat bike riding; touring; and urban commuting), they make biking fun. With so many e-bikes on the market today, you will find design options that vary to fit different people and their preferred use. It’s up to you to decide what is most important. Is it the ease of riding, the cost; maintenance; dependability; range – or the above? With so many models on the market to choose from, first, figure out where you will be riding, and then how often?

Now that you have a list visit a few bike shops to see the brands they carry. Or, attend the e-Bike Challenge on April 2 & 3, or see the video below.

 

Has the idea of using an electric bike, called an e-bike, piqued your interest? If so you are in luck, the E-bike Challenge is coming to Minneapolis, MN.

Selecting the right type of electric bike motor for your style if riding

Electric bike motors have technically come a long way in the last few years. Typically these motors are located in three different areas of an e-bike. The first two locations are found in either the front or rear wheel, called hub motors. In recent years the center mount motor, in the crank area has gained in popularity.

Electric bikes wheels with hub motors

Rear motor system for an electric bike

Rear motor system for an electric bike

The hub motor is in the center of either bicycle wheel, and for many years was the most common. This e-bike power source was known to be quieter. The biggest negative, if you are off-road, a hub motor doesn’t handle hills like a motor that’s directly connected to the crank.

Front motor system for an electric bike

Front motor system for an electric bike

E-bikes motors in the center crank area

Center motor system for an electric bike

Center crank motor system for an electric bike

Becoming more standard, the motor in the center crank/pedal area is at the bottom of the frame. It transfers the motor’s power to the rear wheel via the bicycle’s chain or belt. That means the electronic controls can include a sensor that detects how hard you’re pedaling. It can also measure the electric assistance needs, accordingly. Generally, a crank/drive motor will take advantage of your gears. Helping you to keep your weight distribution low and near the center of your bike, especially when climbing steep hills.

The voltage output of the electric bike motor you choose

When it comes to voltage output and power of the motor, here again, you need to assess your style of riding to figure out what is best. To meet government regulations, as a legal pedal-assist bike, the top speed is generally capped at 28 mph depending on the system. If you are riding relatively flat areas around town lower power motors may be enough when you only need a boost, from fatigue or headwinds. More power is best if you plan to tow a load or are a larger rider.

On the plus side,  a higher voltage motor will allow you to extend your batteries life by drawing less current for the same amount of power, minimizing potential overheating problems. However, if you don’t need to sustain maximum power, a lower voltage system will work just fine and cost you less.

Overall, both motors have some unique advantages and disadvantages. So choosing the right power module for your e-bike will largely depend on your requirements and which advantages seem more useful to your needs. Generally, look for a brand with a good reputation, such as Bosch, Brose, Panasonic, Shimano, or Yamaha.

So first define your riding style to select the right motor for an electric bike. Then test ride several options as you narrow down your selection. Be sure to mark your calendar for the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis here. Or visit a couple of local bike shops in your area to define your choice.

 

Has the idea of using an electric bike piqued your interest? If so the e-bike Challenge is coming to Minneapolis March 23-24.

Maximizing the range your electric bike can travel per charge

The distance an electric bike will go on a battery charge is called range. This is an important specification to pay attention to when comparing e-bikes with your desired riding style. For example, if your commute involves steep climbs, you don’t want to run the battery low halfway up the hill. Without power, an e-bike can be an uncomfortable mode of transportation that demands more energy for the cyclist to pedal. So the range of an electric bike generally depends on the following.

The electric bikes battery capacity or volts

Lithium-ion batteries typically last for 1,000 complete charge cycles, adding back depleted volts. Maybe more with these helpful tips. Now think of a volt as the “force” pushing an Amp through the system. The higher the voltage, the more energy the motor can move. So, a higher voltage system can send more power through the circuits to the motor. Most common are 36-volt batteries, but more bikes use 48-volt batteries and some high-performance bikes with additional voltage. All else being equal, a higher voltage system will deliver more torque for quicker starts, but it will drain your battery faster.

The voltage output of the motor

Because most e-bike systems are standardized, what you want to look for to maximize your total range, is the time it takes before you need to recharge the battery. To do that, look for an e-bike battery with a high Watt-Hour rating.

The average speed you travel and cadence

The average riding speed is a part of the equation to your preferred riding style, factoring in varying conditions (hills, paved to unpaved or irregular surfaces, and wind resistance). If your overall comfort level, riding a bike, is at 13-miles per hour (mph) on average. Your speed range may vary down to six mph on a climb and 20 mph, with a tailwind zooming downhill.

For maximizing your e-bike range – knowing how much pedal-assist to apply to your favored cadence is essential to your average speed riding an e-bike.

A better understanding of cadence

Commonly talked about for measuring performance rather than the actual speed, cadence can also benefit your e-bike range. Counting the number of times your pedal rotates per minute (RPM), the rhythm for the average cyclist is somewhere between 70 and 100 RPM. With a regular none-motorized) bike, this is achieved by using the bicycle’s gears so your cadence stays in the desired range. Using this same practice on an electric bike will decrease the demand on the motor, as it assists you for a longer sustained range.

Use your gears to make it easier

There will be less resistance on the pedal when shifting into lower gears, so it turns faster (called spinning). Moving into a higher gear to go more quickly will give you greater resistance to the pedals. This will also slow your cadence down, making the pedal-to-wheel ratio closer to even. So, by shifting your gears appropriately, your legs will maintain the same average pace, regardless of how fast or slow you are physically moving. The end result of keeping your cadence on the e-bike will be less strain on the motor, which will extend your pedal assist range from the battery.

Your weight

The load your e-bike is expected to carry or pull will also be a factor in the range you can expect from a trip.

Plan your ride to extend your range

If you can define a specific route you want to use for the commute, it will help you better predict the distance you will travel between charges safely. Then, knowing how many hills there are to climb will further help you define the workload you will put on the motor.

Properly inflated tires

Regardless, if you are driving a regular bike, electric bike, or automobile, having your tires properly inflated will improve your performance. An under-inflated tire adds more friction against the road or trail surface. For an e-bike, the motor will work harder and decrease your range.

If you are only going to commute six to ten miles daily, you don’t need a battery and motor system that goes a long distance. However, a bike that goes longer distances than you currently need could be a good investment because the range will drop as the battery ages and loses capacity.

For more information

Be sure to mark your calendar for the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis. Or visit a local bike shop in your area that sells and services electric bikes.

 

Discover micro-mobility on the massive E-bike Challenge test track

With the Omicron-fueled surge declining, enjoy an eco-friendly experience at the E-bike Challenge, discovering the latest in micro-mobility on April 2 & 3. The event will offer those attending a comfortable place to compare and ride the latest electric bike technology, testing the latest bikes on a mammoth indoor test track in the Minneapolis Convention Center. With several social distancing procedures in place, visitors can discover the advantages of e-bikes bikes for hauling cargo, health, and ecological purposes. Making it easy to compare the latest brands and models to learn how micro-mobility can be incorporated into a person’s daily life.

Enjoy the E-bike Challenge and be a part of micro-mobility

Micro-mobility and the return of the E-bike Challenge

Hicle, Inc., the organizers of hike and cycle fairs in Europe, held the first E-bike Challenge here in 2019, with much interest. At this year’s Challenge, those who visit can discover why the electric bikes and trikes are perfect for family activities. Perfect equipment for running errands, hauling cargo, commuting to work without working up a sweat. Then, enjoy a fun cardio workout on the return trip. Even if you can’t replace a car entirely, the event demonstrates why most trips within a 10-mile range can be less expensive with an e-bike. And, in many cases, taking less time than a carbon-fueled vehicle for the same journey.

Find a huge selection to fit your riding style.

E-bikes to ride on the large test track

Some brands already registered for the Challenge include Giant, Serial 1 by Harley Davidson, Pedego, Riese & Muller, and Skyl Power Bikes. Along with e-bikes from Erik’s Bikes, Now Bikes, and Trailhead Cycle, to name a few of the shops that will be there. The event will also feature several breakout sessions, a kids’ bike test track, fun family activities, and free maps of fun places to explore by bike.

Find micro-mobility options from around the world, returning.

Fun for the whole family

Along with a chance to compare and test ride the latest e-bikes on the mammoth indoor track. Find featured breakout sessions on Easy commuting by e-bike, E-biking back to health, and more. Also, find a kids’ bike test track, an e-bike theater, and other fun family activities. Plus, visitors will receive a complimentary 2022 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, full of bicycling maps of popular Minnesota destinations to explore, at the door.

For more information about the E-bike Challenge in Minneapolis on April 2 & 3, visit www.ebikechallenge.com.

Making yourself heard with a bicycle bell, vs voice command

By Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

With spring riding only a few months away it may be time to look for a new bicycle bell. Personally, I prefer using a bell, rather than my voice and the Compact Bell from SpurCycle is perfect. The bell offers the same high-frequency ping as their original bell, just smaller with fewer moving parts.

However, with more people walking and biking, is it better to use a bicycle bell or your voice command to bring attention as you approach?

The SpurCycle Compact Bicycle Bell

In a recent test of the SpurCycle Compact Bell, I found the ring lasts longer than most bells. I found the high-frequency ping with a rich aftermath tone helps those, as you approach, of your on-coming presents.

The perfect brass bell housing holds a ring longer, starting with a very hard “ping.”

This compact bell is plenty loud for off-road riding and suburban commuting but won’t win against car horns and heavy street traffic in a metropolitan area. This bell’s true advantage is how long the ring lasts (or “sustains”), ending at the same frequency.

From its package, test out the high-quality ping this bicycle bell makes.

It’s great for commuters or mountain bikers because you can start the ring 10-15 seconds before passing a biker or pedestrian. Letting let them know where you’re approaching from and how far away you are. With the SpurCycle Bell, there’s no need to ring your bell 20-times like the inexpensive department store models. The initial ring offers enough of a shrill to get the attention of even the most hardcore earbud rockers if you do choose to hit it repeatedly.

If your bike has a larger diameter handlebar (22.2 to 31.8 mm), consider the SpurCycle Original.

Mastering the use of your voice or the use of a bicycle bell

In a recent article published by CyclingSavvy, on should you use a bicycle bell or your voice? For many, it’s a cultural issue. In this in-depth article, John Brooking discusses how you can use a bell or your voice to alert people and what to check for after sending an audible signal. He also touches on the other sounds bicycles make and how these extend your pre-ride safety check. Mastering the use of your voice or bell when riding is a call-and-response. Musicians use this so the audience can sing along; you can use it, so your passage is predictable and safe.

Personally, I prefer the bell to voice commands. Especially if you are in an urban area with heavy pedestrian foot traffic. Spending time in Amsterdam on a bicycle made me a true believer that the bell’s sound was mightier than the voice.

Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Winter in a bike shop is a great time to visit and learn!

by John Brown, BrownCycles.com

The winter months are the perfect time to visit a bike shop and learn. Other than just enjoying bikes at a time when you may not be riding, there are many benefits to visiting your bike shop during the ‘down’ cooler time of the year. In the slower winter months, you can learn more, get better deals, and have faster service.

Faster turnaround time, at your bike shop, on repairs.

Most bike shops operate on a “first in / first out” repair schedule. This means during the busy summer months; there will be dozens of bicycles ahead of yours in line to be repaired. Those dozens of bikes could equal weeks of waiting before your bike gets fixed. Through the winter months, there are fewer bikes in for repair. That means you can expect a really quick turnaround time. Plus, with fewer bikes in the shops to be worked on, each seems to get more attention. That’s not to say your shop won’t do a great job in the summer months. I’m just saying that it is always a good thing when service isn’t rushed and the mechanic has more time.

Bike Shop

Quiet time in the shop is the best time for quality service.

Bike shop discounts and deals!

As fall turns into winter, bicycle brands change over from one model year into the next. Because of that change, the transition becomes a sweet spot for buying a bike. In some cases, you can get last year’s models for a discounted price, and if those aren’t available, the new models are readily available. Along with the new model year shift, many shops also run sales through the winter to maximize store traffic.

A bike shop visit is worth more than a discount

It’s no secret that winter in a bike shop is slow. Why not take advantage of that slow time to talk with both the salesperson and mechanics? Need to know more about all the different bike types? Where is the best place to ride your fat bike? How do the new shorts differ from the ones you already have? These individuals in the bike shop can help.

If it’s a question about your bike’s service or adjustments, the mechanics are likely to spend more time with you and not be rushed. Even better, at this time of the year, some shops will allow customers to watch and learn as they fix their bikes in the winter. Due to the time added to teaching, this is not an opportunity to be considered or offered through the summer.

Learn more at your bike shops, clinics, and classes

As many bike shops have evolved from normal retail locations into community cycling centers, most have adopted a strategy of education and involvement. Because shops have far more time in the winter, most schedule their programs during this downtime. In the most basic cases, you can enjoy trainer rides at most shops. Typically these rides are a “bring your own trainer” affair, where customers come and ride together.

Bike Shop

Park tool School in full effect.

More ambitious stores are running classes on home bike repair as well. Usually, those classes focus on one part of the bike, like wheels or derailleurs. Finally, the most forward-thinking shops are doing classes and clinics as well as inviting speakers to come and give presentations. Many riders have questions about subjects like bike packing or fat biking, and shops will schedule professionals to come to talk about those subjects.

Classes at Browns Bicycle

Don’t let simple mechanicals ruin an otherwise great ride. Come learn the basics of fixing flat tires, mending a broken chain, and getting home on two wheels rather than two feet. Please bring your bicycle with you for a hands-on instruction session. All ages are welcome, although we require all minors to be accompanied by an adult. Check out class dates here.

Just to show the love.

If for no other reason, stop by the shop and say hello. Depending on how quiet the shop is through the winter, things can get pretty boring for the staff, and they would love to share their knowledge. Storage can only be cleaned and re-organized so many times after all the boxed bikes get built. After that, the friendly face of a customer is a welcome sight.

About John Brown, the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit and that particular fever is still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then to a store manager.  Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, parts, or just share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
Winter fat bike season is once again upon us as the leaves fall and temps become cooler. While riding a fat bike is much like riding a regular bike, there is a certain fat bike etiquette to keep in mind when you get out there on the trail this winter season for some fun.

Fat Bike Etiquette vs. Rules of the trail as the winter season progresses

by Jess Leong  

Winter fat bike season is once again upon us as the leaves fall and temps become cooler. While riding a fat bike is much like riding a regular bike, there is a certain fat bike etiquette to keep in mind when you get out there on the trail this winter season for some fun.

Everyone on the trail wants to have a good time and make memories in the bold north’s crisp clean air. Whether that’s biking, hiking snowboarding, skiing, riding a snowmobile, or snowshoeing, these are all valid activities. At the end of the day, for everyone to have a good time, you need to share the trail. These rules below not only keep everyone free from harm, they also keep it comfortable and fun for everyone.

Fat Bike Etiquette – Being Polite and Respecting All Users of the Trail

Yield to all other users of the trail when riding. This includes hikers and especially skiers since they do not have brakes to stop when traveling. Be constantly aware of your surroundings for who and what is around you. Everyone is trying to enjoy the outdoors. When on your Fatty:

  1. Ride on the firmest part of the track to prevent making a deep rut in the trail. These cuts more than a few inches are difficult, if not impossible, to repair.
  2. Stay as far right as possible on the trail. This is so that skiers, snowmobiles, etc. can pass on the left.
  3. Do not ride on the Nordic trails or classic trails. These trails are specifically groomed and tires that go across or over them ruin the trails and can cause problems for those people using them. Being respectful and sharing the trail is important for the enjoyment of everyone.
  4. Respect any closures or alternative days where bikers or skiers specifically have the trail. This is also important because if the trail is closed no one will be looking out for you if you fall. Plus, other trails might be closed or have maintenance going on. This can cause problems if you’re there.
  5. Wear reflective clothing and use lights or blinkers. This helps signal to others where you are from a distance. Skiers and snowmobiles travel quickly and seeing you as far away as possible can help them change their route so there is no collision or problems that will arise.
  6. Consider donating to the shared trails to help cover the cost of maintenance. It takes people to keep the trails well-groomed and ready for people to ride, ski, or hike on them. A donation can go a long way to keeping that trail ready for when you want to use it again.

If you are riding in a group, do not ride side by side. This makes it hard for anyone passing by to get through or weave around. It also can block up the trail.

Rules of the Fat Bike Trail

Many general rules of the fat bike trail are the same as mountain biking or riding on regular trails. However, there is a major difference to keep in mind in addition to the general rules of the trial.

Understand ice travel and how to do it safely. Riding in the winter means riding on top of ice and snow. Throughout the winter there will be times where it’s warmer or colder out which can affect the ground beneath your tires. Know how to deal with this. Many people also ride on top of the frozen water. Riding across a frozen lake or river can be extremely dangerous if the ice were to crack. Learn how thick the ice needs to be to carry your weight, plus your bike when venturing across frozen waters.

Always bring items with you that can help in case you’re in a situation when the ice does break from under you. International Mountain Bicycling Association recommends that ice picks and a length of rope should be taken along if riding on lakes or rivers.

Practice fat bike etiquette, follow the the rules of the trail and have fun.

Practice fat bike etiquette, follow the rules of the trail, and have fun.

Fat Bike Etiquette – General Rules of the Trail

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) developed the “Rules of the Trail” to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions. This list is also on IMBA‘s website and on our Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Before You Ride

  1. Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions.
  2. Let People Know: Make sure there’s at least one other person who knows where you’re headed, when and where you left from, and when you’re hoping to get back. Any things can happen on the trail and if something ever happened, it’s important that someone knows where you might be.
  3. Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness. This means, you guessed it, check ahead of time!

While Riding

  1. Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
  2. Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
  3. Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
  4. Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Riding a trail system before it snows is advisable when possible.

Riding a trail system before it snows is advisable when possible.

Don’t Forget!

Also, always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Search here for an IMBA Club to join and don’t forget to HaveFun!

 

Jess Leong is a freelance writer for HaveFunBiking.com.

There are tons of exercises, drills and products to help you keep your fitness through the winter riding months.

Fun and fitness when winter bike riding isn’t your thing

by John Brown

Snow, ice, and cold make for excellent conditions for fat biking, but how do you keep in shape when winter bike riding isn’t your thing? Luckily, there are tons of fun activities, exercises, drills, and products to help keep you in shape through the winter months.

winter riding

Fun is fat through the winter

Fitness ideas if winter bike riding isn’t your thing

Even the smallest efforts can help you stay fit. Trying things like taking the stairs rather than the elevator, parking on the opposite side of the lot and walking when shopping, or taking time in the evening to go for walks around the neighborhood will make a big difference when the riding season comes back around. You can also start putting some time in at the gym. In the past, I had a gym membership that I would turn off except for three months a year. I enjoyed yoga classes, weight training, treadmills, spin classes, as well as all sorts of other gym-related activities.

On a bike trainer vs. winter bike riding

Besides fat biking (which is the best winter bike riding option) you can enjoy your bike through the winter by buying an indoor trainer. An indoor trainer holds your bicycle upright and offers resistance when you pedal, thus turning your bike into a stationary bicycle. When using an Indoor trainer, you can ride from the comfort of your own home or in a group setting. Most bike shops have trainer nights in their stores through the winter.

winter riding

Trainer rides are a great way to connect with other riders

If you join a shop’s group trainer ride, there is usually a leader. However, riding alone can still be fun. Most people start riding their trainer while watching TV and it’s a great plan at first, but that quickly gets boring. I find it interesting to use trainer-specific workouts online. There are plenty of free and for-pay versions. Additionally, depending on the trainer you buy, some of those workouts will change the resistance through your trainer.

Spin classes

Most gyms offer spin classes. These classes use a stationary bicycle, music, and instructors to guide a course through a one-hour workout. These rides are enjoyable and offer an intensity that is difficult to achieve riding alone at home.

Winter riding

Spin Class is a fast and fun workout

There are, however, a few downsides with spin classes to keep in mind. One issue is that a spin bike won’t fit the same as your bike. Many riders will install their saddle and pedals on a spin bike before each class. The other potential problem is that the courses you can select, are not tailored toward your personal goals. The levels are usually high tempo, high effort workouts that might not fit with your training plan.

Fun in the Snow

If you live in a colder weather climate and snow is the reality for months at a time you can enjoy the white stuff and keep your fitness. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating are fantastic ways to get your heart rate up. I love skating on our pond with my boys because one, I’m not good at it, so I get to use new muscles and two, I have to work hard to keep up with them.

winter riding

Our winter oasis where I fumble through learning to skate

However, you find your fitness through the winter, enjoy your time off the bike. The brief time between fall and spring is perfect to strengthen new muscles, work on flexibility, and let your body recover from a full season of cycling. Additionally, time off the bike always makes me more excited to get back on it once the weather clears.

Visually keep an eye out hazards that may be developing in the ice.

Fun biking, skiing or walking on water with these ice safety tips

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

For many not familiar with the bold north, biking or walking on water is a fun winter tradition when incorporating a few ice safety tips into the adventure. Here in the upper Midwest, Mother Nature’s annual temperature swings make it easy to safely the frozen bodies of water. From mid to late December through  February, riding a bike across a body of frozen water is a regular occurrence. This year, ice is already forming, and the fun may begin sooner and extend the season of outdoor fun.

Along with the proper clothing for a comfortable ride in the winter, here are some ice safety tips you need to know to ensure a safe time pedaling across a lake or stream frozen over.

Ice safety tips – First and foremost, know the thickness of the ice.

There’s no way around it. While many visual cues can help you determine if it is safe to roll out or step onto the ice, the most reliable way to determine is to measure the ice thickness.

There are a few tools you can use to measure the ice. An ice chisel can be stabbed into the ice until it penetrates all the way through. A cordless drill with a wood bit also works well to auger a hole to measure the thickness.

Ice safety tips – What is a safe thickness?

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states on ice thickness, any ice thickness less than four inches should be avoided at all costs. At four inches, the ice can support bicycling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and walking. At five to seven inches, the ice can sustain the weight of a snowmobile or an ATV, while eight to twelve inches are needed to support a small car’s weight. And while these guidelines are generic, ice conditions vary, and the above is for newly formed ice. Make sure to read more on thickness before going out there.

Measuring in one place is not enough. Take measurements in several different areas (approximately 150 feet apart) to ensure that the entire area is safe. Ice thickness can vary, even over a relatively small area—especially over moving water.

Ice safety tips – Assess the area visually

A visual assessment can help supplement your measurement and can also help if you’re relying on someone else’s measurements.

Its a perfect time of the year to jump on a fatty and hit the trail. This pic was taken last year at the Get Phat with Pat event in the Minnesota River Bottoms, in Bloomington, MN.

It’s a perfect time of the year to jump on a fatty and ride across the lake.

Watch for signs of danger like cracks, seams, pressure ridges, dark areas (where the ice is thinner), and slushy areas—even slight slush signals that the icing isn’t freezing at the bottom anymore which means it’s getting progressively weaker.

Ice safety tips – The color of the ice

Check out the color of the ice. Clear, blue, or green ice thicker than four inches should be ok enough to bike on. White ice typically has air or snow trapped inside, weakening it. Dark ice might indicate that the ice is quite thin—probably not thick enough for biking or hiking.

The Fresher, the better

New ice is typically stronger than older ice. As time passes, the bond between ice crystals decays even in freezing temperatures. When the spring thaw begins, the ice weakens considerably. It can be tempting to head out for one last ride across the ice, but it is safest to say no. Even if ice fits the measurement criteria, it can still be hazardous.

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice.”

Along with knowledge of the thickness of the ice and a visual assessment, here are four more suggestions to help minimize the risk when biking on the ice:

  • Carry ice picks and a rope
  • Have a cell phone or personal locator beacon along
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

Know the proper rescue techniques

Anyone doing anything on the ice outdoors should know the ice rescue technique. Even kids should be familiar with the protocol, so be sure to educate them ahead of time. If someone in your party falls through the ice, the first thing to do is call 911. Anyone still on the ice should slowly lie down, distributing their weight over a larger area.

Reach the person in the water using a long-reaching assist—a large stick, a rope, or a ladder if available. The water person should be instructed to kick and slowly ease their way out of the water. Once they make it to the surface, they should crawl or roll away from the broken ice area.

Anyone on the ice, including the victim and rescuer, should avoid standing up until they are far away from the broken ice. As soon as possible, get the victim into dry clothing and treat them for hypothermia.

Now have some fun!

Enjoy the ice safety tips for a safer true north experience!