Uppermidwest/Minnesota Winter

I plan on riding through the winter for the first time, commuting 15-20 miles total each day in Saint Paul. I have a standard Coker, but mostly set up for nice weather.

Advice needed on the following: equipment to think about, clothing to think about, safety stategies (even if simple and obvious), unique things about different road conditions, funny or scary real life stories, how you deal with keeping a wet/salty cycle at your place of work.

Anyone local to metro twin cities - you are welcome to send a private message. Would be nice to connect with others.

BT

I’m a graduate student at the U and live in S MPLS. I got my first uni (26" Nimbus Muni) last January, and commuted on it through the rest of the winter, even though I was a brand new rider. Surprisingly, I felt more comfortable on my unicycle than on my fixed gear bike. The combination of a 3" wide tire, having your weight directly over the point of contact, and not having a front wheel to slip on ice or in slush makes unicycling in the winter quite safe. I found that I was much warmer on my uni than on my bike, both because there was less wind chill (lower speeds) and I was working significantly harder. I wore tights and a long-sleeved jersey, thin windproof pant and jacket shells, some wool socks, decent mittens, and a helmet with built-in earmuffs. On my bike I usually wear a balaclava as well, but it’s often not necessary on the uni, unless it’s below -10 F out. I’m not sure where you ride in St Paul, but I use a route that takes me past as few cars as possible (Greenway, Hiawatha Trail, etc) in the winter to be safe. Hope it goes well. You’ll certainly get some interesting looks!

I’m a graduate student at the U and live in S MPLS. I got my first uni (26" Nimbus Muni) last January, and commuted on it through the rest of the winter, even though I was a brand new rider. Surprisingly, I felt more comfortable on my unicycle than on my fixed gear bike. The combination of a 3" wide tire, having your weight directly over the point of contact, and not having a front wheel to slip on ice or in slush makes unicycling in the winter quite safe. I found that I was much warmer on my uni than on my bike, both because there was less wind chill (lower speeds) and I was working significantly harder. I wore tights and a long-sleeved jersey, thin windproof pant and jacket shells, some wool socks, decent mittens, and a helmet with built-in earmuffs. On my bike I usually wear a balaclava as well, but it’s often not necessary on the uni, unless it’s below -10 F out. I’m not sure where you ride in St Paul, but I use a route that takes me past as few cars as possible (Greenway, Hiawatha Trail, etc) in the winter to be safe. Hope it goes well. You’ll certainly get some interesting looks!

Oh, I also have an awesome helmet-mounted headlamp by Light & Motion, which is super important for winter riding because you’ll probably be commuting home in the dark. Light & Motion makes lights that cost up to $500 (HID lamps for night racing, etc), but I got a used Solo Logic on Ebay for $100 and it was very well spent. My light follows my head motion, so I can simply look in the windshield of a car that I’m worried about and they immediately know I’m there.

Thanks. I am VERY close to the Greenway, but likely will not see it much. Just across the Mississippi on Marshal - I cut up the hill by the golf course and eventually 50 feet above the interstate to get past University Avenue. Thanks for the advice. My mornings will also be dark at times. How about handling different road conditions?

I know the hill you’re talking about. I use that route weekly to get up by the Hampden Park Co-op. That’s a nice area to live in. As for road conditions in the winter…

Fresh powder: Tons of fun and not at all dangerous. My favorite conditions to ride in, though it’s difficult if there’s more than 6 or 8".
Ice: Better on a uni than on a bike. I usually make it accross fine on my uni, and when I do UPD I end up on my feet. Just take it slow and steady, and GO STRAIGHT. I got too confident and tried turning…save yourself the pain and don’t.
Slush: If it’s less than 4" thick, you can just blaze right through it. If it’s thicker, your tire won’t make contact with the ground and you’ll slip all over the place. Best to stick to plowed roads in that case.

hand warmers, a good jacket, thick insulating pants, and a good hat should keep you all right. i would suggest putting hand warmers in your armpits, and on both sides of your neck, considering there are major arteries/veins that will help keep you warm. oh yeah, good gloves and shoes too, you want your fingers and hands to be as warm as possible.

(sidenote)-
I live in central MN, in stearns county, near St. Cloud.

you guys are all nuts!