Experimental music, photography, and adventures

An interesting week for commuting …

Friday, January 8th, 2010

It’s been a fun, but challenging week, in terms of bicycle commuting. Most mornings, if not every morning, the windchill has been below zero, going as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit. Morning temperatures have been mostly in the single digits, above zero. Last week had some mornings like that, but evenings were warmer. This week, the evenings have been cold, too, with the windchill ranging from 10 degrees down to -4.

We got our first significant snow of the year Wednesday night and throughout the day Thursday and Friday. We got a total of probably around five inches of snow. Here in southern Indiana, that’s a lot. Schools were closed Thursday and Friday. People spoke of “the blizzard.” All over a few inches of snow. Now, admittedly, the roads were in poor shape, as the city does not handle the snow well.

Yesterday morning, riding to work wasn’t too bad for me because it hadn’t snowed all that much yet. Sarah’s drive to work was much worse. She was on main roads, but they were a mess and most of them had not been plowed or salted.

Here are some shots from the morning, it wasn’t too bad, but the bike path had deep snow, and some other roads had snow also, while a couple were fairly clear.

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The bike path had a fair amount of snow

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This road wasn’t much better

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When I left work, I laughed at the state of my bike. Here are shots of the bike, one from when I arrived in the morning, the other is how I found the bike after work.

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Let’s see a closeup of that drivetrain …

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… yeah, I’m glad I have this beater to ride, rather than subjecting the Long Haul Trucker to this sort of abuse.

After work, I decided to take a meandering route through IU’s campus, which is still deserted, because the students are still on winter break. This added a couple of miles to my route, and kept me away from traffic.

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Back at the bike path

I got nearly home, but I was having too much fun! I love snow. So, I rode an extra four miles or so around some neighborhoods.

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By the time I neared home, it was dark and the windchill was once again below zero. I had snow on my face and glasses, and it was sticking to my ear warmer headband and my neck gaiter. More importantly, I had a big smile on my face.

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By the time I reached home, my 15-minute commute had taken well over an hour. I loved every minute of it.

A few notes on my studded tires: I finally mounted the rear tire, so I had both tires for this ride. However, I was mostly dealing with snow; there was very little ice. The tires did very well on powdery snow. They are narrower than the knobby tires I normally run, which helps them cut through the powder. They aren’t too bad on dry pavement, but they do have a real weakness: packed, bumpy snow. Riding on the bike path, where people had walked, was very difficult. There was a lot of sliding around, and the tread is not terribly aggressive. I had real trouble on this kind of surface. On the other hand, those conditions are challenging with any tire.

There were a few interesting moments where I started to slide a little bit as I sunk into some snow, but then I could feel the studs dig in and stop me. It was cool to be able to feel them doing their job.

7 Responses to “An interesting week for commuting …”

  1. furiousBall Says:

    yeah that looks pretty cold, i’ve never tried studded tires before, in fact i’ve never seen them around here. i think you’re making them up.

  2. Chris Says:

    I see all the blog photos of you guys riding in that weather and smiling, but I’m still having trouble grasping the concept.

    Did your face freeze in that position?

  3. Bill Lambert Says:

    I’ve also found that frozen foot prints in the snow is difficult to handle. Also snow that is packed on the roadways that slides when you put tire pressure on it is difficult. Other than that, I’ve had good luck with my tires so far.

    IU’s campus is beautiful, isn’t it. I admit that I’m a Purdue fan, but IU has the most beautiful campus I’ve seen.

  4. Steve A Says:

    Clearly that bike needs wax on the down tube so the snow doesn’t stick to it!

  5. Myles/ rattrappress Says:

    I’m wondering if hitting snow covered potholes is a problem when you’re riding in those conditions? I’m glad to see that you are able to enjoy your commute.

    That old Miyata is really cool.

  6. Jon Grinder Says:

    I managed to find some ice slippery enough that even my studded tires were ineffective, on Wednesday. We had a bit of a melt, then refreeze, with fresh snow falling on top of that as I rode home. The main problem was that all of the ruts in the slush had frozen solid, and would kick the tire sideways and instigate a slide.

    Be careful, out there. Keep the dirty side down!

  7. Apertome Says:

    Chris: I’ve always liked playing in the snow, so I find it a lot of fun.

    Bill: Yes, IU does have a nice campus. I think Northwestern’s was even nicer, but it’s right on Lake Michigan, which isn’t very fair.

    Steve: Yes, clearly!

    Myles: Tthanks, I like the bike, too. Potholes can be a problem, but at least in terms of commuting, I have a pretty good idea of where most of them are, since I ride the same route every day. Still, sometimes I am taken by surprise.

    Jon: refreeze is the worst …

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