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Archive for the 'Ice' Category

More snow

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Note: I wrote this yesterday, but forgot to post it.

We got a few more inches of snow. This morning my commute was quite interesting; many schools and businesses were closed today. There were an inch or two of fresh snow on the roads, and more snow coming down hard. My cassette and rear derailleur got clogged with snow over the course of my ride to work.

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However, I had an absolute blast.

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The Beast handled the snow well, I like the feeling of snow on my face, the way it blankets everything … I really just enjoy riding in this stuff. By the time I arrived at work, I had a silly grin on my face.

My ride home was more or less the same, but more intense.  It was colder, there was more snow on the ground, it was snowing harder, and it was VERY windy. It was snowing sideways!

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Wind blew the snow off roofs, as you can sort of see below.

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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.

Winter is hell for bikes

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I had some mechanical problems today that reminded me just how harsh winter can be on a bike. More about that in a moment …

We got a couple inches of snow yesterday/last night. Conditions weren’t too bad this morning, except in a few places. The parking lot in our apartment complex and the bike path both had ice, with a layer of crunchy snow on top.

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Some of the less-traveled roads had snow on them. The city decided to try a new snow-management technique: dropping lots of salt, instead of plowing. Needless to say, this didn’t work at all.

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But, the roads that get more traffic were in pretty good shape. They were just wet, and slushy at times.

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On Steve A’s recommendation, I’ve started waxing my bike when I clean it. He said, basically, that it would make it easier to clean the bike, and hopefully help prevent so much slush (among other things) from building up on the bike. For now, I’m using a spray-on wax, and it definitely does seem to help. Today I found that while it doesn’t prevent slush from building up on the down tube, it does make it not stick as well. On my way to work, once it reached a certain point, it actually fell off on its own.

By the time I got to work, more slush had built up on the downtube. This happens despite my low fenders. But, most of  it was easily removed by simply tapping it with my boot.

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That didn’t help my drivetrain, unfortunately.

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After work, I hopped on the bike to head home, and for a few minutes, all was well. But then after I stopped at a light, I tried to get going again and spun out. I thought maybe my chain had fallen off, or wasn’t quite in gear, but it seemed to be fine. I continued on and everything was fine again, until I stopped at a stop sign, and started pedaling again. I pedaled like mad, but the bike wouldn’t go anywhere. I looked down and the chain was intact, but I was pedaling freely forward, without turning the wheel. It felt just like pedaling backwards, but I was pedaling forwards!

This was a truly weird sensation, and occasionally I could get the gears to engage, but mostly, I was unable to move. I was about two blocks from a bike shop, so I walked over to see if they could do a short-term fix to at least get me home. No dice … and apparently the cassette on this bike is really old and weird and they can’t replace it, either. I had another wheel at home, that would require some adjustment and probably a new cassette, but I still had to get home.

So, the two miles home from that point were a combination of walking, coasting downhill, and trying to get the gears to catch. They did a few times, so I ended up walking probably a mile, and riding the rest. Naturally, parts were quite icy, which would have made for a great test of my studded tires, but I had to walk. Damn.

I made it home safely. I still need to put the other wheel on, and make some adjustments. Ugh. I’d just ride the Trucker tomorrow, but it’s very icy, and I really need the studded tires (they won’t fit on the Trucker).

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