Mike has left a possibly-permanent set of salt stains on the carpet outside my apartment, right underneath where the rear tire and the front set of gears are when I stand him in the hallway to thaw after I get in. The one under the derailleur is the worst: chain lube plus salt plus road grime plus slush is not kind to carpet.
Well, I'm not about to bring him in to thaw and drip all over my hardwood floor, right?... I leave him out there for a half hour or so to drip dry, then open the door and allow him in. A little like a dog that's in disgrace.
It's amazing how much snow he brings in with him. The tires throw slush back against the underside of the frame and up into the rear set of gears, where it sticks and clogs around the gearshift cables. It almost feels futile to clear it off, since I'll just get the bike coated again the next time I go out, but I know I should. It's also true that I go through lubricant like a fiend when the weather's bad. Not that you tend to notice a sticky gear or a grinding in the pedals while you're teetering along at three-quarters speed, keeping an eye out for patches of ice or ridges left by the plow, but in the back of my mind I'm always aware that I'm putting the bike through really, really unkind conditions, and if I don't want to replace most of the drive train in the spring I should probably be wiping it down, lubricating absolutely everything, and probably trying to protect the paint job while I'm at it.
I see some debate out there in the blogosphere over using fixed-gear bikes for the winter; the sort of single-speeder that you usually find in either older style bikes, or seriously heavy-duty ones. The idea is that winter is so hard on your gears, and you're so unlikely to be traveling fast or hard enough to need more than one gear, that you're saving yourself a lot of replacement parts and headache by switching to a simpler bike with fewer working parts. The only downside is having to work a lot harder on hills (and you really don't want to stand up on the pedals on a slick, icy hill.) It's a moot point for me: even if I wanted to get a second bike, I don't have anywhere to keep it. As it is, Mike is dripping on the floor inside my apartment because there's no bike parking downstairs.
So, I have to do what I can to protect my bike's delicate bits. MEC (bless their hardcore little hearts) posted a great set of tips for winterizing your bike. New Years Resolution: get that midwinter tuneup, some studded tires, a can of WD-40, and a gallon or so of all-purpose lubricant.
And a rubber mat for the hallway. Sooner or later my landlord's going to complain.