Winter Biking: Schwalbe Marathon Winter Tires, etc…
Disclaimer, the picture above is from a previous night-ride, not this morning’s ride. I just like the picture.
This morning’s ride was cold. Probably stupid cold. It was 5 degrees Fahrenheit when I left the house. It’s the kind of cold where your nose hair immediately freeze when you step outside the house. But that’s part of the fun.
I was pretty well layered up for the weather: bike booties, Mountain Hardwear softshell pants (previous version to the Winter Wander) over Sporthill ATV running pants, a couple of merino wool sweaters under my Arc’teryx Gamma softshell, neck gaiter, mittens, ski goggles, and a winter helmet. The only thing that bothered me was the air temp hitting my throat and nasal passages. Breathing through the neck gaiter was a nuisance since it restricts breathing just a bit, but it solves the cold air problem. At the end of my 5-ish mile ride, I was good and toasty, with only a little cold sensation in my toes.
Winter in Minneapolis throws everything at you. We’ve had snow, rain, flurries, mist, fog, freezing fog, 40 degrees and 0 degrees all in the last month. So the riding surface can be anything from clear and dry, powdery snow, hard-packed snow, crunchy ice crystals, and glare ice, all in the same ride. Such was the case this morning. The Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires handled it all (700 X 35c). Traction isn’t perfect, but it’s probably about as good as can be realistically expected. Someone put it best when they said riding with studded tires isn’t like riding on dry pavement; it’s more like riding on salted or sanded ice and snow. I’ve had these tires for a few years, and haven’t put on too much mileage, probably just a couple of hundred miles. The Marathon Winters have held up extremely well. The carbide steel studs show minimal wear and the rubber barely looks worn. That’s all probably a sign that I need to ride more.