Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Yowsa. So, we had about 4 inches of snowfall a couple days ago. Then it got to about 40F that night. Everything kind of half melted into a mess of sno-cone-like slush. Then, it froze. I don't think it's gotten above 30F in the last couple days.

Here's what the street in front of my house looks like:

It's not obvious from the picture what's going on here. The ice is solid for sure. It's not a clean, smooth sheet. It's rutty and bumpy. At the moment it's snowing lightly, so there's a film of snow over the top of that.

This makes for really interesting riding. We took two rides today: first, we took Maddie to school. Liza did great. She was on the Fuji and hauled Maddie. No issues. We took it nice and slow. Then, I rode to the doctor's office this afternoon. I tried going a bit faster, maybe 10 mph? I went down in a flash. I guess my front wheel just slipped out from under me. It was sudden: one second I'm just riding along (JRA), the next second my bike, my frozen-solid water bottle, and I are having a little skate down the road -- sliding silently and effortlessly.

Riding on this stuff -- even with studs and on a fixed gear -- really takes equal parts of luck and skill to get around on. I took a spill, I messed up my pants and my knee a little; no harm to the bike. But really, given the overall distance I rode today (probably about 6 miles), and the fact that I'm pretty new at this, I'm pretty pleased with my accident to miles ratio.

I'll be keeping it much slower until this ice melts away. 5 mph tops.


David Blaine said...

Snow=no problem. Ice=problem. The solid block of ice that seems to be covering this town is my least favorite riding condition. I aim for the crunchy snow on the side of the road, when the noise stops I know I am on solid ice and must hold my breath until back on the crunchy stuff. I have been eager for a cold snap to see how my new lake winter cycling shoes do and so far so good. I tooled about this afternoon for an hour without even noticing the cold. The real test will be tonight when it gets into the single digits and I am riding home from work.

John Speare said...

I keep hemmin' and hawin' on the SPD winter boot thing. Did you buy yours locally? I'd love to try them on before buying. At the moment, I am using chemical foot warmers stuffed in my SPD shoes for under 30F. For over 30F, I am using my SPD sandals with wool socks and little toe covers. Both work ok.

David Blaine said...

I couldn't find anything local so I ordered from lickbikes.com. The real advantage of these shoes for me is that I can forego the neoprene booties and having a winter specific shoe sized larger allows me to wear bulkier socks than I could fit into my regular shoe. I have spent 15 years commuting through foul and freezing weather with just booties, Sealskinz kayak socks and plastic produce bags. My feet would get cold but when the temperature is in the single digits it is to be expected. I splurged on the shoes but I feel good about the purchase. I don't think it is a sign that I am getting soft because no matter how much fancy gear you buy, it takes grit to get out on two wheels this time of year. I have always used 20F as the line when I get serious about the gear. I have big ugly purple gloves, a balaclava and expedition weight long underwear that waits for days like today.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! So far, I've been a fair-weather bike commuter (from 40th & Grand to downtown), but these posts make me wanna put studded tires on my Trek 7300. Good stuff. Thanks.