Monday, January 12, 2009

Lots of snow.

It snowed this morning. Snowed, as in my coworker's 15 minute drive downtown instead took her an hour to complete.

I contemplated my commute for a while, and rode up and down my block a few times to test out how slippery the roads were. I ultimately decided to go for it, mostly because while it was a little slippery and pretty windy, it didn't actually feel all that cold. And I didn't have to leave until after 10am, and by that time it had stopped snowing.

That ride though was probably the most difficult one I've done yet.  There were a couple of slushy downhill parts, during which I was not 100% confident in the control I had over my speed and over my stopping abilities. That was a bit unnerving. I dismounted and walked across several intersections because the accumulation of slush and ice just seemed way too forboding. I, for the first time, rode the pedestrian overpass at one particularly severe dip under the railroad tracks.

I fell twice. Technically. I don't consider either of them legitimate falls though. 

Fall number one happened after I had already come to a complete stop at a red light. I stopped concentrating on my balance and traction for a second, because, you know, I was stopped -- and then Boom. I teetered and slipped and laid my bike down on its side. 

Fall number two was half intentional. When I made it to the end of my commute, I celebrated by ripping through the fresh, virgin snow in the company parking lot, basically doing donuts. I attempted to cut my rear wheel hard enough to make it skid laterally, because I wanted to see it push the snow. I succeeded, and maintained control for, oh, about three seconds before dumping over.

Having accomplished that, I went inside.  I was only about 15 minutes late, which is not that bad considering all the factors.

Two things helped me navigate the terrain. 

Firstly, the extra weight in my rear panniers (Merry Christmas, me!) offered me a little extra stability.  Many, many times I felt my rear wheel slip, and then immediately dig in again. I rarely had to do more than a minor shift in balance to regain traction.

Secondly, I don't think I got out of what I think of as my "granny gears" the entire time. Which is to say I went slowly, but not infuriatingly slow by any means. In fact, at times, the automobiles around me were not going a heck of a lot faster than I was.

My ride this morning left me considering two things:

1.  I think I need an "Incliment Weather" bike. Not neccessarily a Surly Pugsley, although that would be pretty flippin sweet. But some kind of mountain bike for sure. My 32mm tires aren't really appropriate for this kind of riding.

2.  As my ride progressed, I began to really get a feel for the road. I could feel my traction, and I could tell how much I was, or wasn't, gripping the road. It made me wonder about how a good, wide-tired fixed gear bicycle would feel in these conditions. I assume one would feel a much closer connection with the road.


In other news, Jimmy Carter had two of his bicycles stolen in Atlanta. Ain't that a bitch?

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