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A lovely winter road ride

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I was in a rut, cycling-wise, before this weekend. On Saturday, I headed out for a road ride, even though we’d gotten a few inches of snow the day/night before. I was a little unsure what to expect; most of my riding this winter, except for commuting, has been on trails or gravel roads.

Fortunately, it had been warm enough that the main roads had little to no snow on them. State Road 45 was clear completely. Mt. Gilead, a side road, had some snow, but it wasn’t too bad. Still, I was riding the Trucker, with slick tires, so I had to be extra careful.  Interestingly enough, the hills were the *easiest* part, as they had large amounts of sand and salt on them. The flat sections were largely untreated, and as such has some snow and ice.

In the first few shots, you can see the progression of the road conditions, going away from town.

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Here you can see that I’m enjoying myself. It felt great to ride the Trucker after spending so much time commuting on The Beast.

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More importantly, the scenery was tremendous. I’ve ridden through this area dozens of times before, but it’s never looked like this.

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You can see how thick the sand is, on this steep, winding downhill.

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I made my way over to Bethel Lane, another back road … and the road conditions were OK at first, but quickly deteriorated. Icy snow and snowy ice made for very little traction. I was impressed at how well my slick tires handled these conditions, especially at one point when I stopped and put a foot down, only to have it nearly slide right out from under me.

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At one point, my rear tire suddenly slid sideways. I recovered without falling, but it was nerve-wracking. I just had to go very slowly for a few miles.

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I stopped to take a break for a minute and realized icicles were accumulating on my fenders. I had to break the ice off the front fender, as it was starting to rub the tire.

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I was worried about the hill that I would have to ride down to get to Lake Griffy. The road there was in slightly better shape than Bethel Lane had been, but not by a whole lot. Once I reached the bottom of the hill, the road was clear and I rode across the causeway. The lake was frozen and a lone fisherman was out on the ice.

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The road up the hill on the other side of the lake, back toward town, was clear and easy riding. Well, easy except the fact that it’s a big hill.

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Within a few minutes, I was back in town. It’s a bit jarring to turn the corner after riding past a lake and through a forest, and suddenly see one of the busiest roads in town. That’s one thing I love about Bloomington, though, you don’t have to go far to get to what is essentially the middle of nowhere.

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From there, I rode home, basically following my commute route. Some kind soul had again plowed the bike path. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a vast improvement over what it’s like when left alone. Whoever is responsible for this: thank you!

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All in all, a great ride. Just a bit over 18 miles, but it felt like more, given the conditions.

Wet, blustery snow

Monday, January 25th, 2010

It was around 30 degrees during my ride home from work today; not too cold, but between the blustery winds and getting pelted with wet snow, I wasn’t exactly comfortable. Most or all of the snow melted on contact with the roads, but I’m expecting it to freeze overnight. My ride to work in the morning could be interesting.

Yuck.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

My ride home from work was rather … interesting. It was the perfect combination of my least favorite commuting conditions: Completely dark. Temps in the 30s. Pouring down rain. With 20 mph winds.

I’ll take snow over this, any day. There’s just no way to stay warm when you are that wet. And no way to stay dry when it’s pouring that hard. And no way to see, when your glasses are covered in raindrops, and fogging up. Rain drops pelted my face, stinging, until the numbness set in. In hindsight, I should’ve had another layer or two of clothing.

So, it wasn’t exactly a glorious day for commuting. These things happen, but I made it anyway.

Tomorrow looks to be interesting as well, but with snow, rather than rain, and 50 mph winds. Whatever the conditions are where you’re riding … be careful out there!

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