the rusted chainline

It has been snowing quite a lot for the last couple of weeks and when you combined melting snow with salt you get a pretty aggressive cocktail that does no good to a bike.

My last blog post was 10 days ago but yes I am alive – CX Pro tires for the win but I keep knocking on wood – and still riding the fixed gear back and forth in the city. I manage to lock the bike indoors most of the time – at the office & at home – and keep it dry but I had to leave it outside the house for only one night: below is a picture that just shows the effect of the salty cocktail.

Snow, salt & chain lube

Time for maintenance on the drivetrain: the chain, chainring and sprocket need brush love and lube.

what a week

It’s Saturday morning, I’m sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee, sore legs and mixed feelings after the last couple of days: it has been quite a commuting experience to say the least.

It all started with freezing cold weather (between -10°C and -15°C) on Monday and Tuesday but roads were clean and apart from the extra time it took to dress up accordingly the daily rides were business as usual and quite enjoyable.

But on Wednesday the weather Gods – for some obscure reason – decided to punish us all and poured thousands of cubic meters of fresh snow all over Stockholm.

“Crews at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport were forced to remove 200,000 cubic metres of snow in the wake of the storm, nearly as much as the 250,000 cubic metres removed for the entire 2011-2012 winter season.” –

And chaos it was. Complete chaos. The city buses were pulled out of service, commuter trains and subways faced severe delays when not cancelled and people had to find a way to get home: a colleague even walked 16 kilometers not even trying to hail a nowhere to be found available cab.

Snow, snow & snow
Snow chaos,

I half walked, half rode the bike in deep fresh snow between the office and home and made it back in an hour or so (compared to the usual 25 minutes). It felt like the worst ride ever at the time but having the bike with me in those conditions was probably the best choice in retrospect.

Thursday morning’s ride was still a bit rough with not all of the bike lanes cleared and ridable but everything was back in order on Thursday evening.

I can understand how frustrated Stockholmers have felt during the storm – let down by the public transport system having to find an alternative to get home – but let’s face it: which city in the world would have done better? Everything was up and running in less than 24 hours after the first flake came down and I must admin that I am quite impressed by how the situation was handle and the amazing work done by the snow plow crews who have been working 24/7 since then.

same sh*t, different city

When I saw the drawing this afternoon I was pretty sure it was depicting the every day situation on Skeppsbron where cyclists have to ride between the road, tourists buses, tourists wandering and standing in the middle of the bike lane for a better view at the Royal castle, taxi drivers dropping customers wherever they feel like it’s OK, … (the list could go on for pages)

But no. Bekka Wright (the bike commuter & artist behind BikeyFace) lives and bikes in Boston, MA, United States. Looks like the life of bike commuters is pretty much the same on the other side of the Atlantic.

Middle of the road

Schwalbe CX Pro, a week later

A week ago I was mounting Schwalbe CX Pro tires on my commuting bike a few hours before the first snow falls hit Stockholm. Not sure it really was a wise choice at the time I’ve now been riding them for over 100 kilometers and I’m still in one piece.

I took it very easy during the first ride on snow as to get used to the tires and deflated them a bit for a softer steering (it was really bumpy and a bit slippery at 6.5 bars, no kidding!) and better grip after a couple of kilometers. I think I now have a pretty good setup and I’ve not found myself in a delicate situation so far.

Schwalbe CX Pro on the fixed gear bike

Those tires sure do a very good job on fresh and packed snow (no difference whatsoever with summer tires on asphalt even when breaking hard) and are pretty stable on an icier surface (but I’m more careful then as one should be riding studded tires or not).

All in all a very positive first impression and I’m looking forward to the 30 centimeters of fresh snow promised for tomorrow (according to TheLocal). Please stay tuned for more feedback on those tires later.