The Return of My Winter Wheels

Ladies and gentlemen, my winter wheels are back!  After choosing not to ride on Monday due to road conditions, I set out Tuesday morning enthusiastically, but my enthusiasm was short-lived.

The edges of the streets and the bike lanes were still full of slush, forcing me to take the lane.   The rising sun created massive glares on the wet roads and snow, making it hard for me to see and surely hard for drivers to see me.

I almost turned around to ride back home, but instead I turned on a shady side street with less sun but more slush.  Half-way to work, I decided to drop Oma off at Dutch Bike Chicago to have her studded tires put on.  The shop wasn’t open yet, so I locked her up, dropped the key through the mail slot and left them a message.  Today I dropped off the studded tires and then picked up modified-Oma after work (Thanks to the shop manager Vince!  You can read about his own studded tire transition here.)

Finally!  My cycling confidence is back and the ride home was wonderful!

I felt totally confident on my two wheels, even riding through the icy slush.  Although I likely would have been perfectly fine riding without studded tires, I am miserable the whole time if I’m stressing about slipping.

Drivers were especially careful around me, possibly afraid I would slip in front of them (they don’t know about my studs) but whatever keeps them cautious is fine with me.  I smiled and laughed the whole time, in response to my Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me podcast (yay, WBEZ Chicago!).  As a cherry on top, I went by a man riding something like a WorkCycles Fr8 with a kid on back and we dinged bells at each other.

This is going to be a good winter, now that I have my wheels back.  Who’s with me?  :)

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29 thoughts on “The Return of My Winter Wheels

  1. JTuttle says:

    I’m with you, Dottie! I’ve got my studs on my Oma and yesterday I even picked Gypsy up from Daycare on my bike with Gypsy in the trailer. I have to admit that the slushy streets are still a challenge, but when I felt like a bit of a break, I rode on the icy, snowy sidewalks without a problem. Yay!

  2. Steven Vance says:

    Vince is the greatest.

  3. donna says:

    Miserable and defeated was exactly how I felt when I commented yesterday re my first ride in slush and snow. Today however, most of the snow had melted and the bike lane was clear and I felt invigorated again. I got a lot of looks from drivers not used to seeing bikes out this time of year though. Someone asked me if I had snow tires. I wondered what they meant because until I found out about studded tires via your blog I didn’t even know they existed.

  4. Miss Sarah says:

    Here, here! To studded tires!

    I was always capable of riding without them, but they just make the bike so much more sure-footed. Plus, when you live in winter wonderland it’s always good to have insurance against the random patches hidden ice. It’s always when you least expect it, you know?


  5. Mandy says:

    It’s likely that we won’t see much snow where I live this winter (rain, rain, rain, rain, and… wait for it… more rain), but if and/or when we do, I’m onboard to give it a try! Thanks for being inspiring. (In the meantime, I’m tackling winter riding by staying dry without looking like a human garbage bag.)

  6. Steve A says:

    It’ll take several lakefront path photos to cancel out today’s shot!

  7. Sara says:

    Fantastic! Glad you have your confidence back and Oma is ready to go! So cool you were able to drop your keys in the box at the shop. That’s just great customer service :)

  8. Samantha says:

    Glad you got your snow tires on Dottie – it has definitely been a bit slippery out there this week with the snow and ice mess. And yeah, Vince totally rocks!

  9. Amy says:

    I’m with you! Though, without the studded tires. I’m just hopping off and walking over the nasty bits. :)

  10. julia leigh says:

    Me too! Just got studded tires! This is my first winter cycling, and today was the first day I used the new tires. I noticed that the ride was more difficult than usual on the uphill parts. I couldn’t tell if it was the drag from the tires, or if I was just out of shape after not biking for a few days…

  11. Im with you with winter riding, but no studs for me. Where we live the DPWs are notorious for over-zealous salting (the head of the DPW in my town prides himself on the annual reports of how many tons of salt he “deposited” over the winter… like it’s a bragging right over other communities). There’s a snowball’s chance in hell of any ice forming on Somerville or Cambridge streets, at least the major ones. I do know people who have to ride on bike paths, which in this area aren’t salted, and they rely on studded tires. I would too, but since 99% of the time our streets are kept clear, I’d rather use regular tires wiht less rolling resistance.

    • Biggie Doosh says:

      Freeze-thaw cycle.
      Get studs, and you’ll enjoy going faster because despite the weight penalty you can corner faster and roll straight instead of seeking bare pavement.

      I doubted the benefits, but they are significant.

  12. Maria B. says:

    I always assumed that studded tires were just for Dutch bikes. Reading this post, it occurred to me that didn’t make sense. Tires are standard sizes – duh! Just added some to my Christmas list, just in time for the procrastinators in my family. :)

  13. Ed L. says:

    Alright, alright – studs on this weekend, back to riding fair weather or foul on Monday.

  14. Bill says:

    How did you decide on Oma? I see there are many Dutch bikes out there like Gazelle? She looks great but how did you know? Did you read reviews, why this Dutch bike?


    • Dottie says:

      When I started to look into Dutch-style bikes 2.5 years ago, there was very little information online, practically no reviews. The only two bikes I was able to test ride in person were the Oma and the Pashley Princess. I chose the Oma over the Pashley because I preferred Oma’s huge size, sturdy feel, enhanced carrying capacity and bigger wheels. You can read more about the differences in my Oma and Pashley reviews on the “Beautiful Bicycles” page.

      Since my Oma purchase, many more Dutch-style bikes have come onto the market and there are now three different shops in Chicago that sell those bikes exclusively, which is great. Based on all my subsequent test rides of different brands that I’ve posted about here, the WorkCycles Oma remains my favorite.

      • Bill says:


        Thanks for the feedback. I’ll look at your other posts too! It just looks so comfortable to sit up straight and be able to enjoy the sights. I am glad you don’t regret your purchase of Oma, and still would choose her over other Dutch bikes. For me I guess I would be looking at Opa. Many thanks and stay warm.

        • donna says:

          I ride a Pashley and yesterday a pedestrian stopped me to ask me about it because “he didn’t think anyone rode classics anymore!”

        • Iyen says:

          Bill, don’t rule out getting an Oma for yourself. The step through makes the bike much easier to mount and safer in case of an accident.

          Many guys in Europe ride then rather than the Opa. Here’s a link to the Flickr page of Todd from Clever Cycles who rides one:

          fiets of parenthood, 12 june 2010

          • Bill says:


            Thanks for the link, it is such an American stigma for men to ride diamond frames and ladies to ride the step through. But I am going with the Oma anyway. Just need to think like the Dutch.

            I spoke to The Dutch Bicycle Company and they sell many of these to men. The gentleman I spoke to said that sexing a bicycle is an American thing.

            It is sure easier to get on a step through frame in a suit!

            Many thanks

  15. Lynnety says:

    Not much fear of snow or ice around here. Some cold days, that’s about it. Yes, I am riding!

    I had a tough time deciding between the FR8 and Paula. I decided that I really did not need to haul cast iron lawn furniture often and my child is 18, so I went with Paula. I kind of still want an Oma or a Pashley, but I adore the Paula. I made the right choice.

  16. Curly Suze says:

    Dottie & crew, thanks for the commentary on winter bike commuting. Just this week I finally started doing it. Was out there this morning at 19F and pedaling into a headwind .. and with enough layers I was toasty warm too. It’s not a great ride because it goes through some unlit areas, but with enough lights on the bike it should be safe.

    Anyway thanks for the encouragement .. :)

  17. Allison says:

    Hey, in case you haven’t seen this yet:

    Dutch bikes is selling Oma bikes for 500 for the next three days…it might even be worth putting the link in a new post for your readers!

    take care

  18. […] was changing out my regular tires for my studded tires.  Dottie over at Let’s Go Ride a Bike made the change this week as well and used her local bike shop.   I did it myself this year – I enjoy doing basic bike […]

  19. […] studded tires on wet ice […]

  20. […] The return of my winter wheels in 2010 […]

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