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Archive for February, 2008

Springlike

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

The road seemed to flow effortlessly beneath me this morning. This was one of those times where everything clicks and riding feels so easy and natural — it’s not an unfamiliar feeling, but it doesn’t usually happen when I’m riding my clunky old mountain bike. The sun was shining, the air was calm, the roads were dry, and my ride was nearly effortless. The sun’s warmth felt great on my face, and I was thankful to be outdoors. It felt like a spring morning, except for one factor: it was only 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside. But between my layers and riding, I felt more comfortable than I have for a while. A great ride to work.

Rain last night, snow today

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

While Sarah and I were at dinner last night, we looked out the window and saw snow falling. Literally a minute later the snow turned to rain, and it continued to rain on and off throughout the night. More rain was predicted for this morning, to transition to snow later in the day.

I had considered driving to work if those conditions played out. Riding in the rain in the 30s is really unpleasant — I’d much rather have snow, or even single-digit temperatures. Getting soaked at freezing temperatures chills you in a way that’s hard to shake. So I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up this morning to find it was snowing, not raining, even though it was about 34 degrees. It felt quite warm and I didn’t zip my jacket all the way, even though it was snowing. The bike path continues to be the only problematic part of my ride, and it’ll probably get worse as it gets colder throughout the day and continues snowing. I may avoid the bike path tonight, unless we get enough snow to give me a layer with better traction on top of the ice.

Overall, I’m pleased with how well I’ve done riding all winter. But now it’s really getting old, and I’m ready for warmer weather. This February has been particularly difficult. Hopefully we’ll get warmer weather soon.

Bookends

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Friday evening commute

My ride home on Friday was very difficult, not as difficult as my Friday morning commute, but conditions were still poor. We had gotten some more freezing rain throughout the day. Fortunately the roads had mostly improved somewhat from being salted, and from people driving on them. But the less-traveled roads were still covered in ice, slush, frozen slush and more ice. During part of my ride, one road has a slightly banked turn, which is normally helpful. But in this case the angle kept pushing me toward the edge of the road, and countersteering was not very productive. If I tried moving to the left, I started slipping. So I had to strike a balance so that I could both stay on the road and maintain traction.

I didn’t even attempt to ride on the bike path on my way home on Friday, because I knew it would be one solid sheet of ice. Maybe if I had a sled I would’ve gone that way. Instead, I rode on the shoulder of the Bypass briefly and cut through a retail parking lot. There was some ice there, especially by Starbucks and I ended up walking/sliding on a sidewalk for a few feet and lifting my bike over the curb to get through.

The weekend

I had good intentions for the weekend. I planned to do some riding, and Sarah and I were planning on going hiking with my friend Dave. Unfortunately the icy conditions from Thursday and Friday persisted, and while roads in town were in pretty good shape, I figured the back roads wouldn’t be. I could have ridden around town or something, but I didn’t. I thought I’d run an errand or two by bicycle, but the opportunity didn’t present itself. Sunday was supposed to be warmer, but instead we woke up to find it was snowing outside. A layer of snow on top of layers of ice didn’t seem conducive to riding, so I didn’t ride.

Monday morning commute

This morning’s commute felt warm, at around 30 degrees. Conditions weren’t bad except of course for the bike path. It was covered in ice, but with some melting occurring over the weekend and water dripping from the trees above, at least it was porous ice. I tried to stay on some of the snowier areas, and kept my speed down. The ice and snow crunched especially loudly beneath my wheels, alerting a pedestrian up ahead to my presence. My bike shook from riding over frozen footprints. I only saw one other bicycle tread in the ice, from someone with skinnier tires than mine. I thought, “They’re braver and/or stupider than I am.”

Other than that, my commute this morning was uneventful and actually quite pleasant. I really enjoy this peaceful time on my way to work. It gives me a chance to wake up, reflect, observe. It’s a great way to start my day, and I’m still surprised sometimes by just how pleasant a 30-degree (or colder) bike ride can be, even though I’ve been doing this all winter. And I like the fact that since I ride to work, bicycle rides are the first and last things I do each workday, and each workweek. Somehow the daily grind seems a bit better when it’s bookended with bicycle rides.

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