An Absolute Beginner: Riding in the Snow

A newbie's commentary on cycling in New York City

Sometimes, bike lanes like this make me nervous.

I'm new to New York and commuting here is a completely different ballgame than any other city I've lived in. The challenge I faced this week was deciding which tires to use on my bike in the wake of Winter Storm Juno.  

I was nervous about riding yesterday and Wednesday for two reasons: I feared the bike lanes would be covered with hard, crunchy snow, and that drivers wouldn't be attentive to my need for space on the road and just run me over. My way of coping with this was to remain cautious and visible on the road and to get tires I that gave me confidence on the icy road. 

After consulting with the good folks at Redbeard, I found out there are a few options for snow riding in the city. The most fun and intense is a fat bike, like the Surly Pugsley Special Ops. Unfortunately, I'm not the market for a sweet ride like that, so I opted for the Vittoria Randonneur

These road tires stood up to the slush just fine. There was little to no skid when I whizzed through an unavoidable ice patch in the bike lane. I'm sure my brake pads are partially to thank for that, but I noticed an immediate difference on the ride home.  There was less "slip 'n' slide" when I dashed through stretches of snow. The thing that alleviated my fear the most was the peace of mind I had after my bike was looked over by the mechanic who installed my new tires. If there's one thing I've learned as a cycling beginner, it's that maintenance is even more important than having all the right gear.

--Krista Christophe
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