Flying and Travel with a folding bike vs normal bike

Where are folding bikes best for travel?

They seem to excel with multi-modal commuting in a city, bike touring especially involving train or plane flight. Or anytime you are on a plane.

Why? Because you do not need to have a bike box to transport. You can use your same room. You can take on every train.

favorite wool garments

wool is a fantastic material, but what garments does it work best for? what are the best garments to get in wool?

good stuff

  • coat
  • gloves
  • mittens
  • t shirts - great in limited experience
  • sweaters - fantastic if it is cold
  • baselayers - great if merino

less enthusiastic about being made in wool

  • scarves
  • beanies - very good if there is a liner
  • longsleeves - thicker flannel is nice, but i like sweaters more

warm winter bike riding

warm winter riding
there are a few ways to be a warm winter biker

wool is like the best stuff
but you do not need to have very much to do

you could get by with only having cheaper stuff

basic principles

what are the types of layers you should be wearing?

this conceptual framework is the basis of the entire body warming clothing system.

  • nothing
  • wicking layer
  • insulating layer
  • windproof layer

these four options are how a warm winter cyclist can organize their wardrobe. clothing functions better or worse as a specific type of layer. oftentimes, you will have layers that have multiple properties. for example, a softshell, might be a windproof layer, but is also has insulating qualities. if it is a moderate temperature, you might just need that and a tshirt. however, when it gets colder, you might want to shift to a warmer insulating layer (add a fleece). alternatively, when it gets really windy, you might keep the t shirt and softshell, but add a rain jacket.

what is nothing?

skin, glorious bare skin in the sun on a 70F degree day is a joy to ride. san francisco, on the rare sunny warm day, even has underwear rides.

wicking layer

the best wicking layers are baselayer clothing. the main function is to move sweat from the skin, into a higher layer. that way, you avoid getting drenched in sweat and freezing.

  • these can come in synthetic or natural fibers.
  • synthetic fibers can be warm, they can be cooling. they are typically cheaper than natural fibers, and can be tougher, which makes a difference with all the friction from biking.
  • the king of natural fibers is merino wool. the downside is that merino yes even merino can be less comfortable on the skin, and it is more expensive.
  • cotton does not wick well. actually cotton, on a dry day, is an okay outer layer.
  • for the coldest days, merino is unbeatable, though, especially given the extra warmth factor and the antimicrobial properties.

what do i use? i use synthetics until it gets down to like 15F, then i'll switch to my merino.

insulating layer

cotton disclaimer: okay, cotton can come up multiple times, but i would generally avoid cotton. 'cotton kills' is a common refrain in backpacking guides, but i want to add one exception that i have not seen mentioned. as an outer layer on a dry, windless, cold day cotton can be nice. it is comfortable, breathable, and actually will transmit moisture out from the depths of your layers. i will not talk about cotton any more.

cotton is not a good layer because it holds on to moisture, and when it is cold, well that can be problematic for an inner layer, wicking layer, outer layer, etc.

  • fleece - my favorite insulating layer. it moves moisture, it is reasonable in price, it is warm enough and the price/warmth ratio is better than anything out there. plus, it is comfortable and can even be fashionable.
  • wool - my second favorite for insulating, it loses to fleece primarily on comfort against skin and price/warmth ratio. if you can mitigate those two factors, it is fantastic. you can do this by wearing a comfortable base layer so your skin does not touch the wool, buying softer wool (ex. merino), and getting it cheaper.
  • down - love/hate, but for biking mostly a pass. why? it holds moisture. however, if it is really cold, i'll throw a down layer in there, and just have to be really, really cognizant of it getting wet. if it gets wet, down loses a more of its warming ability, plus, then you are stuck with something wet. it does not move moisture at all, which further adds to the clammy feeling. where it shines are two situations: when you stop and when you messed up. i will almost always have a packable down jacket in a bag because for the space/warmth ratio, it is as yet unbeatable. when you stop biking, you stop generating heat, and can suddenly find yourself searching for the closest spot to the campfire. a down jacket outperforms at being a small layer that you can just throw on. a fleece does the same with a better price/warmth ratio, but it is bulkier space/warmth ratio.

windproof layer

your main options are rainjackets and waxed cotton
there is something called a windjacket which is windproof like a rain jacket, but way more packable, but i never bought one because, well, i have so many rain jackets. and wind sometimes brings rain, and i mean, i'm usually wearing it instead of packing it anyway.

i like rain jackets that are just rain jackets. shells. no insulating layers built in. that way i can adjust. plus i think they just work better.

waxed cotton is nice, but it is heavier, it can be more durable, but it is heavier, and i have not 'worn through' a rain shell so i think it is unnecessary. if there is a really cold day, i might switch to a heavier flannel lined, waxed cotton jacket, but for the most part...rain jackets. they can look nicer, for sure, so style points? is where they would win.

temperature ranges

there are a few different temperature ratings for what is good while biking.
For ranges that are not covered, just add or remove a layer from the previous level.

  • >-10F - bring a puffy jacket too
  • -10-0F - same, but wear wool tights instead of synthetic tights, also go to choppers with wool inserts instead of lobster mittens,
  • 0-15F - same, but wear a thick wool sweater as an insulating layer, add a windproof layer on pants, lobster gloves and pogies, add beanie on the balaclava, add another buff
  • 25-35F - my most common winter setup boots, wool socks, tights, pants, baselayer longsleeve, light fleece, bring along warmer layer ex. down jacket, windproof layer like a rainshell, light gloves and pogies, buff, balaclava
  • 40-60F - tights or just pants depending on temps, here you have to really start considering rain, though
  • 70F+ - summer riding temps, have fun =)


wool is king
i like having synthetic baselayers sometimes, because they are comfortable against the skin, but you can get merino wool that is comfortable too

where to buy frugal winter bike gear

go to your local thrift store, goodwill, salvation army or other place. look for thick wool sweaters. look for any wool sweaters. merino wool is really nice. that is great stuff to ride in because merino wool is warm, antimicrobial, and comfortable against the skin.
local facebook marketplace and craigslist seem to work as well
ebay seems to be overpriced

winter bike gear upgrades

the gear listed here is stuff you can buy in a store

wolfhammer boots
naughtvind bike pants
basically anything made by 45nrth

another option is gear made by cross country skiing companies. this recommendation is common, but in my experience, the gear is still expensive, so i might prefer to get stuff made specifically for biking.


here is how to mitigate the two cons of wool compared to fleece [LINK]
aerogel and how it could be the new down [LINK]
gloves and mittens and pogies, oh my! [LINK]

bike winter commute lights

One of the tricky things with winter riding is safety.
lights are key. Especially here in Minnesota, we are biking in the dark, and, well, there aren't many street lights on the roads I ride either. I tend to ride on the bike trails, non-major/neighborhood roads, and other paths.
Having a bright headlamp is good, but I realize that having an even brighter handlebar light has additional utility.

add reflective patches to your backpack or bag
a bright front light
two rear red blinky lights
side reflectives

Expert Panel: 20 ‘Hacks’ For Better Wintertime Biking

Studded Tires, Fixed-Gear… Customized Rig Is ‘Ultimate Urban Winter Bike’

sell bikes

so some of it
for the bicycles
sell the old bike for $100
sell the frame for $80
put a single-speed cog on the bike and riser bars?
put pursuit bars on the bike?
a basket

that will clear up the garage

could keep the mountain bike
keep the fat bike
keep the ice bike, maybe make it easier to pedal, get some warm pogies or modify the ones you have

Growing mental capacity for pain vs making it easier on yourself? Middle way philosophy applied to winter bike riding

Once I realized that I did not enjoy riding in the winter, I kept doing it. Instead of making it easier and optimizing riding in the winter, I just tried to keep struggling through it. My mental block was that I was saying, "Well, you've ridden before and you've ridden races with this gear, you should be able to ride everyday."

I know in the last post, I said that was bad, but it was also good. I was growing my mental capacity. This tolerance for perceived pain is important.

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solve problems you actually have

Solve problems that you actually have.

I have been riding and commuting for a few years now. I guess commuting for at least 9 years. Seven of those years exclusively with public transit and bike. Seven of those years I did not have a car.

I bought more bikes, but that was not the solution.

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Do you want to bike in winter? Solve problems you have.

Instead of buying more bikes, which claim to be fun, solve problems you actually have. This may involve buying accessories. Make sure you buy the right ones (gloves, use winter boots, good lights, bib layer) not the wrong ones (new bike, new bike, new bike, snacks).

Once I realized that I did not enjoy riding in the winter, I kept doing it.

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bike lights – bright cheap bike light that runs off a powerbank. What is a good commuter bike light?

I've been looking for a good solution for lighting during night rides. Choices abound, and lumens are not a reliable way to judge brightness. Furthermore, reviews are pretty difficult. One person says they ride at night all winter, and they have some little flashlight they use. Only to realize that they are riding on city streets and the winter temps don't drop below 40F.
Pretty different if you are riding in 10F with ice and snow on unlit roads.
Or if you are riding in those conditions on singletrack.

If you want just a quick way to go, I would go with the knog microchip. For $50, you get a bright light, in a compact format, that works for nighttime commuting. Or a cygolite 600, also for about $50. These are widely available and so can be purchased from a local bike shop (preferable) or online, and likely returned if not functioning

Another way to go is what I did: tape your backpacking headlamp to your helmet.

Having found that I want something on my handlebars for the winter, I entered research mode again for something that was better and cheaper.

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the minimal bike corral

I have an idea of the bikes I want.

Well, I really want a steel bike that can ride fixed or geared. I would likely leave it fixed most of the time.

Well, what I am saying is that I would like a fixed gear bicycle. One in a road geometry. Or cyclocross.

Then I would want a mountain bike. And frankly, if that mountain bike could take 3 inch tires it could do all the snow.

So now that means a surly crosscheck as one bike and a troll/ogre/karate monkey. And just be done with it.

The other thing I want is well, what do I have and what can I do with what I have?

Now I also have a fat bike.
I have a fixed gear sole that my friend gave to me.
I have a fixed gear track bike that I bought.
I have a raleigh grand sports that I am fixing up.
I have a specialized rockhopper mountain bike that I bought.
I have a diamond back rigid mountain bike singlespeed.

Now for the other bikes
There is a specialized frame that is too small for my wife.
There is a bridgestone kabuki which is really cool and too small.

For reasonable weather (above 20F) I think two bikes would be a good compromise. A road style bike for the good weather and summer. And a mountain bike style bike for the crud in the winter.

You could expand from this framework or tweak it. For example: a road style bike could be a full on race bike, a fixed gear bike, a cyclocross bike, or even a touring bike. These would depend on your needs: go fast, extremely low maintenance, a little off road ability and versatility, or ultimate in hauling ability. For the mountain bike it could range from a proper fat bike with 26x4+ tires, a 29er, or even a 26inch steel hardtail. This could be riding in mostly fresh snow, taking the trade-off of lots of fresh snow for lighter and faster, or even a mountain bike for extra fun times during the summer.

Right now, I have too many bikes, for doing too many things, and frankly, I could just have an extra wheelset and cover it, but they 1) work well and 2) were acquired for low prices and 3) would sell for low prices as well. The studded, 26er, rigid mtb is the epitome of that approach in that, well, it was $25 at a university bike sale, and purpose built it to be a winter bike. It has studded tires, cantilever brakes with tons of clearance for muck, is fully rigid and single speed for low maintenance in the winter. Fewer parts for salt, mud, muck, and snow to mess up. For a few months out of the year, some of the parts are encased in ice. The fat bike is something that could potentially sell for a good price, but I get use out of it still and for snowy days or when the road is sketchy, there isn't much that it can't do. Now that there are 29er bikes, I might go with a 29+ bike, but I do not know that market currently. The true fat bike does allow me to ride all around and I have done a few races where only fat bikes are allowed. The downside is that I cannot put it on a bus, but other than that, I can bring it on the train no problem.
The fixed gear is my favorite for summer and actually most general commuting...with a front brake. My current fixed gear does not have a front brake and that makes me not want to ride it as much.
The raleigh could replace that bike if I converted it...which I might do this afternoon.

Thoughts on bike fit

Sure, bike fit is important, and I do not want anyone to get hurt. I just mean, I have seen little kids learning on adult bikes and they get along fine. I mean there weren’t even really children’s bikes. Kids would ride just whatever bikes were available. But I am not asking a kid to ride a bike for 24 hours in a Day across Minnesota. Bike fit can be important in preventing injury and increasing enjoyment, but there are the questions of how much knowledge do you need, how do you go about getting a fit, and how else can you prevent injury and increase enjoyment.

What is the concise summary?
Go to a bike shop, get a basic bike sizing, get on a bike that works for you, and then buy the bike from the bike shop. Done, a good shop will get you sorted. The Walmart that my parents bought my first bike at got us sorted. A real bike shop will do better and have better quality stuff, but hey, I want everyone to ride bikes, not just people who think that $200 is not enough money to buy a first bike.

The other way to go is to learn. This is the path I chose and bike fit necessitates being on the bike and feeling what a bike that fits feels like. Often in life there are trade-offs: spend money or time, spend time or be more skilled, gain knowledge or hire experience. I spent time and less money figuring it out on my own by riding different bikes, all kinds of geometries and sizes and set ups, reading everything I could, researching in my special way, and seeing what I liked, what feels good, why a 120mm stem on a bike can feel weird, or can be useful for a roadie on mountain descents riding an intentionally undersized frame, why a quill stem is can be both beautiful and cumbersome, why they should make step thru men’s frames.

If you are riding enough and listening to your body and paying attention, I mean a bike is almost the opposite of a black box. It is all there for you to see.

How should you approach bike fit?
So you could spend in a few different ways, up front by hiring expertise, or with your time and effort. I think that long term, the experience is an investment if you want to eventually be able to buy used, save money, and figure things out yourself. If you are just starting out, just get something that feels kind of right, at a lower price and ride that a lot, until you decide, hey I want something nice and from all that riding, I have an idea what I want. Then go to a bike shop for a sweet, sweet ride.

The main thing is to ride bikes. They are freedom. They are health. And one or two should really cover it. Sell the rest.

One bike life

First off, I have too many bikes. Like actually. At least I can recognize the problem?

10 bikes for 2 people...
Well it's 2 bikes for one person (reasonable), 5 bikes for me (ehhhh), 2 bikes that are to be sold. So I'm the glutton.

How did it come to this? What happened to my glorious one-bike life?

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the almanzo 100 and pursuing real things

the almanzo seems like a big thing to me. a real thing. that feeling of something really pushing your limits. it is an untoward thing to say it is a feat. a feat is something like working two jobs, six days a week to support your family, and doing it while keeping yourself true. i would say the almanzo is a good training tool. the real reward of something like the almanzo is the training that it drives.

a real thing impels you to get over those little bumps in motivation.

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road to almanzo bike race series

last night i spoke with my cousin on the phone and he put the fear of god in me. i thought i was doing okay with my training. he asked how many miles i was up to. i told him 165. he said, no, what is the longest ride you have done? i said, like 8 miles? silence. i said i was on track to have a few hundred miles done before the actual race. a heavy silence. "i kind of feel like i'm behind?" i said.

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