Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Commuting again

I can't believe it's been a month since I commuted for real, but thems the facts. I think the longest ride I've been on in the last month was a 12 mile trail ride.

The combination of snow and routing has kept my daily commute restricted to the 5 or so mile-roundtrip between our house and the bus stop. Luckily, there's about 400 feet of climbing on the way home, so I've not completely atrophied, but I'm feeling pretty turdy.

My winter strategy in routing a way home from Cheney is to find the right balance between low-traffic roads and distance. If the Fish Lake Trail was plowed, I'd be on it, but it's under about 18" of snow at the moment, and even with a fat bike, it would be a sucky slog.
That would be the FLT down there. If I was super awesome, I'd x-country ski my way home.

Since the bus route from Cheney to Spokane is mostly on I-90, there's no reasonable route that allows the bus-bailout option. I guess a guy could take some back roads into Medical Lake then board from there, but that's a long way out of the way if you don't want to bail.

So my route favors wide, plowed, slow/low-traffic gravel roads. I do spend a bit of time on Washington Road and Gardner Road, which can have a bit of traffic, but since I'm able to leave Cheney at about 11 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there's not much traffic on these roads.

The Rawland is rocking it. Conditions today were packed snow with sections of non-packed, shifty snow. The fat knob tires on the Rawland were just perfect. Although there are ice patches mixed with snow, studs really don't provide enough benefit to warrant their sloggy weighty turdiness for this kind of riding. I figure my  winter route, which  plan on taking every Tues/Thurs this quarter, is about 25 miles. I'll track it on Thursday.

Going with platform pedals on the Rawland. I'm very happy with this set up. These are your basic Gortex lined leather  boots. All in all: a fantastic set up. No cold toes and I can wear these boots in my daily life. 
The effect that snow has on the audibility of car traffic is real. What we hear when we hear cars behind us are mostly the tires on the roadway. When the road is covered with snow, cars are mostly silent. So, I don't even listen to podcasts this time of year as I ride. And that is a wonderful thing that I need to remember all year round: having time to collect, sort, categorize, and formulate thoughts is one of the great gifts that a commute like this gives out for free.

I don't clean off my bike when I'm done with this kind of riding. It sits in the garage, which is about 45 F for Tiger the Killer Cat. So all this crud melts off. The extent of my maintenance is to check the the chain length once a month or so and to put some Boeshield on it when it starts to squeak or turn orange. 

Madde. Drinking hot chocolate under the Canon Hill Park bridge. 


Anonymous said...

hey john.. what are you going to school for? at eastern.
For you they should have "bicycle snow management" you could teach it and have a commuting class on Tues/Thurs. credits are credits, right?!

John Speare said...

Anon: i'm getting an MA in English so I can teach college composition. I'm teaching 101 right now.

I'd be down with bicycle snow management.