MPLS Winter Biking Is New Interactive Site for Twin Cities Bike Commuters

MPLS Winter Biking is an online resource launched a couple of days ago by Foundry, a software design & development agency based in Minneapolis, that allows bike commuters in the Twin Cities to report and view trail/road conditions.  It works for both desktop and mobile devices.  Users of site can rate and add comments to their reports by clicking the map for the road or trail they would like to inform other cyclists about.

MPLS Winter Biking is interactive using Google Maps with Bicycling routes highlighted and user submitted reports are color coded based on the 5 star rating system.  Reports indicate whether or not they contain an optional comment on the conditions.  Cyclists can zoom in to report for a specific road or trail and each report shows the date and time of  the submission.  To keep the map information current, user submitted reports are only 3 days old or less.  Over the last day and a half, a lot of new reports have been submitted detailing how the commuter conditions have changed with the new snow we have received.

Whether you're an avid or occasional bike commuter, put this resource to use by submitting your reports so that other cyclists can be in the know and plan their routes accordingly.  Your fellow cyclists will thank you.


Ditch the Water Bottle and Go With Vacuum Insulated Containers for Winter Rides

This Winter has already had its share of sub-zero temperatures and keeping your beverages from freezing can be a challenge.  Storing beverages in a vacuum insulated bottle is a great way to keep them drinkable in the coldest of conditions.  To prove this I did a test with three containers for cold liquids and and the two for hot liquids during a couple of sub-zero cold snaps recently.

Although my tests are far from being scientific, I wanted to test these containers during some extended sub-zero and single digit temperatures to see how they performed.  My main two focuses were for cold and hot liquids and how these containers would keep the liquids from freezing over extended periods of time. The bottles used for the testing were a 21 oz. CamelBak Podium bottle outfitted with a Mud Cap, a Yeti Rambler 18 oz. and a Stanley 32 oz. Half Growler.

I first started with the cold water test using the same temperature water in all three bottles.  I wanted to do this test with cold water from the tap which ended up being 58° F.  I put all three bottles outside on a recent cold evening at 1:05am when the temperature was -6° F.  I checked the temperature of the water in the bottles three times over the next 32 hours to see how they would perform.  I have had plenty of experience with uninsulated CamelBak water bottles in previous winters and knew that it probably wouldn't perform that well compared to the vacuum insulated containers.  Below are my findings during the cold and hot water testing.

My first reading would be 7 hours and 10 minutes later when the outside temperature had dropped to -8° F (the coldest during the testing period during this test).  The CamelBak bottle was completely frozen solid while the two vacuum insulated bottles performed much better with water temperature readings of 44° F for the Yeti Rambler and 48° F for the Stanley Half Growler.

My second reading would be 3 hours and 25 minutes later when the outside temperature had warmed up to 7° F.  The vacuum insulated bottles had water temperature readings of 39° F for the Yeti Rambler and 45° F for the Stanley Half Growler.

The third reading would be later that evening (7 hours 35 minutes after the second reading) when the temperature outside had reached 12° F.  The Yeti Rambler had dropped to 35° F and the Stanley Half Growler was at 39° F.  A thin layer of ice was forming at the top of both containers but each was still drinkable by breaking the ice.

My final reading would be the next morning (over 32 hours since the start of testing) when the outside temperature had warmed up to 18° F.  The water in the Yeti Rambler was at 33° F and so was the Stanley Half Growler.  Both had a layer of ice at the top of the container but under the circumstances, I was pleasantly surprised.

The next test was to see how these two vacuum insulated bottles would perform when filled with boiling water (212° F).  At the start of the test the outside temperature was 3° F.  I would take two extended period temperature readings of the water over the next 24 hour period.

My first reading would be 12½ hours later when the outside temperature had dropped to -4° F.  The Yeti Rambler had a water temperature reading of 99° F and the Stanley Half Growler was at 104° F.

My second reading would be almost 24 hours after the start of the test where the outside temperature had fallen to the low teens below zero overnight and warmed up to -6° F.  The Yeti Rambler had a water temperature reading of 56° F and the Stanley Half Growler was at 68° F which is still a long way from freezing.  For very long rides, bikepacking or a backup water supply, starting with boiling water in either of these containers will leave you with cold water after 24 hours in some very cold temperatures.

In conclusion, heading out on cold winter rides with vacuum insulated containers is the way to go if you want your hot liquids to stay hot and your cold beverages to keep from freezing.  Using this style of container will let you stay out longer in cold, even sub-zero temperatures while allowing you to stay hydrated.  The 18 oz. Yeti Rambler will fit in a standard water bottle cage for those shorter rides while the 32 oz. Stanley Half Growler will require a Salsa Anything Cage or Anything Cage HD to hold it.  Since getting both of these containers, I no longer have to deal with frozen bottles during the winter months.


My Favorite Winter Fatbike Gear-Part 2

Winter is finally here and and that opens up a lot of new opportunities to ride fatbikes.  Some of these opportunities are made even better with the right gear.  This will be my fifth year of winter cycling and I have a few favorite items that help make fatbiking out on the snow and ice much more enjoyable. 

45NRTH Dillinger 4 Tires 

This Winter has started off extremely icy and a pair of studded tires has almost become a must if you want to get in any riding.  Most of the Twin Cities area singletrack is currently unrideable without studded tires until we get a decent amount of snow to pack down on top of the ice.  I've crashed on icy patches in previous years and vowed that I would go studded this winter for better traction and to ride areas that I couldn't before.

I recently purchased a pair of 45NRTH Dillinger 4 studded fatbike tires and set them up tubeless so I could run lower pressures when needed without the risk of pinch flats.  From the very first ride I was amazed at their grip on the ice.  Now I can ride the slippery stuff with confidence thanks to their 240 concave studs.  These tires now allow me to go places I would have never thought of before.  Frozen lakes, creeks, marshes and icy singletrack are no longer off limits thus extending my opportunities to ride.  They will definitely be put to use during some fatbike ice fishing ventures to come.

Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag

The Mountain Feedbag from Revelate Designs is a favorite cockpit bag of mine.  I use a pair of them year round for different practical applications.  They're small, but big enough to carry the things I need for the ride.  I can easily fit my tool kit in one with room to spare for keys, wallet or snacks.  The other one usually carries a spare tube, water bottle or other gear needed for cold rides.  They allow quick access and hold very secure, even on the bumpiest of rides.  I like to travel light and these bags allow me to do that without feeling cumbersome.

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor Pump

The Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor Pump is one of the best floor pumps I've ever owned.  This high capacity pump works great for filling high volume fatbike tires and also has a pressurizable chamber that makes seating tubeless tires a breeze.  I recently set up a pair of Bontrager Barbegazi 26x4.7 tires tubeless and was able to get them to seat easily without the use of a compressor.  I check my tire pressure before every ride and adjust it to handle the trail conditions and this pump makes doing so quick and easy.  The pump action is very smooth and I would definitely recommend the Flash Charger to anyone who has a fatbike.

WSI Sports HEATR Baselayer

One of the newest gear items I'm most excited about is my new base layer from WSI Sportswear.  This Eagan based company has a full line of performance base layers that have been designed, tested and made in Minnesota.  HEATR is their line of base layer apparel that warms against the skin while wicking away moisture to keep a person dry and comfortable in a variety of cold conditions.

I have their warmest Full HEATR Pant and Long Sleeve 1/4 Zip Shirt that has a comfort range from -20° to 50° F and added their HEATR Socks and HEATR Glove Liners to complete the set.  The material is thin, stretchable and wicks moisture really good.  I combine this set up with my Gore Bike Wear Windstopper outer shell to stay remarkably warm without layering up too much.  I'll be putting it to the test with the subzero temperatures to come and hope to write a full review later this Winter.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...