The sun hasn’t been shining here lately, which has been a bit depressing (though it did shine today, but I wrote most of this post on the weekend). The overhanging gloom makes life feel painfully dull. But when the sun does shine like it did this past Friday, it pumps me up with motivation. Therefore, Friday was the perfect day to try something I’ve wanted to take a shot at for the past few years. Riding bike in the snow!
Below: Remember this one? It’s the Biken design! I thought it fit well here, so I put it here.
Looking back, it’s interesting how this worked out. Because it has been so doomy and gloomy with fog and cloud around here lately, I had been craving something to uplift my spirits. For me, that something usually means a project that involves planning, a trip to a hardware store, and using tools in the garage. That project turned out to be putting studs in my mountain bike tires! And by studs, I mean screws. It’s something I’ve wanted to explore for the past few years, but simply didn’t get around to it. Since I want to get new rubber for my bike for the summer season coming up, I decided to use my current tires for this project. Part of the trick in getting something that you want to upgrade is destroying what you already have. There’s no better way to destroy two bike tires than to murder them with 250 screws!
Below: The key to a quality project is to have the right tools. And coffee throughout the entire winter of 2013/14. And apparently empty egg cartons, which Monica has put on my tool bench without asking. That kind of madness must stop immediately.
I began by scouring the internet for tips on how to make your own studded tires. Turns out all I needed to buy was a shitload of #8 Robertson half inch screws. I pre-drilled all the holes through the selected knobs in the tires, then went back and screwed the screws through from the inside out. When completed, my wrists were pretty sore and the tires were vicious looking beasts! The whole works took approximately 250 screws. The most difficult part was mounting the tires back on the rims without shredding my hands all to hell. Also, I broke two drill bits, so I get to go and buy more drill bits! More tools!
Below: My folding work bench provided playtime for me for a few hours.
Below: I did not shred my hands to hell. If you look closely, this tire has what looks to be some late-season cow shit dried near the outer knobs.
Anyway, Friday’s sunshine prompted me to get out for a test ride. The temperature was a chilly -12C or so, but I didn’t care, as the sunshine sucked me right in. I wasn’t sure what to expect with riding my bike in the snow and ice, but as I got underway I was immediately surprised at the immense amount of traction I had. I was also immediately surprised at how much my legs were burning after having not ridden in three months. I’m sure some of that was due to the tires now being significantly heavier from the weight of the screws and barrier of duct tape lining the inside of the tire to protect the tube. The rear wheel didn’t spin out except for one steep section of trail. The only downside was my right index finger got cold, presumably because it’s always on the rear brake lever. The last thing I wanted to do was wipe out in the cold snow and get tangled up with all those screws cheese-grating my skin. Oh, and my toes got very cold when I was out of the sun, probably because I was only wearing skate shoes. In fact, I was thinking that my toes probably felt as if someone had raked sharp ice skates over them a few times.
Below: Studded tires in the snow. This was the halfway point of the ride.
The verdict on my first ever snow ride was a success! Not only was it fun, but I had some thoughts that I took away from it. First of all, if you have an idea and you want to try it out, do it. Do the shit out of it. If you have always wanted to do something and you don’t do it, you kinda suck. You have failed a little bit. Well, you haven’t failed because you technically didn’t start, but you have failed yourself an opportunity. Secondly, being creative and actually doing something productive is very rewarding, especially when it turns out. So stud your tires! Hell, start a shirt company!