Sunday, March 21, 2010

Icy roads ride report

I have belly ached and moaned this winter whenever road conditions got icy or slippery enough to prevent me from riding. That's because until about a month ago, I didn't have any tires available to me other than skinny road ones. And so I fell down a lot on the ice.

But, about a month ago, I adopted an abandoned mountain bike. It had been left unchained behind my place of employment, by the dumpsters. We brought it in and waited for about three weeks for somebody to come inquire about it, but nobody did, and now it's mine.

I got to take it out on the ice yesterday after it snowed the whole previous day long.

I had made it several blocks and was in a neighboring residential area when I had an encounter of the up-close and vehicular kind. Recapping it to a coworker in an email:

The car was some yellow thing. Maybe a Volkswagon? It was parked parallel to the street on my right, and the windows were COMPLETELY iced over. Hardly a peep hole to see through. So as I got close to it, it backed up suddenly, SLAMMING into the car behind it. Nothing shattered but there was a loud thunk. And then it pulled out into the street when I was right next to it. I had to swerve out of the way and almost wiped out in the process. I yelled at them to stop, but they sped off.

The car had Florida tags, so maybe they don't know much about things like Ice or Snow. Or Driving. Or Not Being A Miserable Human Being. While it may not be fair, I'm harboring some ill will towards all things Floridian today.

I have since let Florida off the hook.

I yelled at the driver to stop because I intended to instruct them to scrape the ice off their windows before continuing. In the moment, latching on to the fact that they had Florida tags, I really did think they might not know about ice scraping. I was prepared to show them how to do it with a credit card if they didn't have a scraper.

That all passed through my head in a split-second while the car spun its wheels and sped away.

A few houses further along, an older gentleman stood in his driveway where he had seen the whole thing. He look bewildered.

A quick thinking bystander was able to photograph the incident:

My ride continued towards, and into, Wash Park. The roads in Wash Park had not been cleared and it was just covered with ice. I got a bad case of the wobbles and nearly fell over. So I dismounted, portaged my bike through the ankle deep snow, and got back on the main road. As I was pedaling off again, a jogger acknowledged the fact that I was riding in the cold and slippery by hollering at me, "You're a brave man!" To which I assured him it was safer for me on the dry street than in the icy, more slippery, park.

I did not stop to show him the print-out of the photograph of my previous encounter with the yellow car.

I made it the rest of the way to work after stopping once to warm my hands.

Safe and sound, at my place of employment, I unclipped my helmet, swung my leg over the back of my bike to dismount, and tore my pants.

Between the new tear and the skunk stripe that comes from riding through wet stuff without fenders, these pants were trashed!

My boss looked concerned upon my arrival, and then looked visibly relieved when I emerged from the bathroom in a fresh, crisp change of clothes.

Eight hours of work ensued, and when it was time to return home, the sun had been out all day and the roads were completely clear. I wore just two t-shirts under my jacket instead of the two long-sleeve shirts from that morning. What a difference!

Between my weather gear and my work clothes, here is a list of all the clothing I carried with me.

  • Buff. Worn like a balaclava in the morning and a head scarf in the afternoon. (My buff is my favorite piece of cycling gear. I use it all year long.)

  • Two long-sleeve t-shirts. For the morning ride.

  • T-shirt and button down shirt. For work.

  • Another, heavy long sleeve shirt. For work.

  • Tights and (currently trashed) khakis. For morning ride.

  • Blue jeans. For work.

  • One pair of wool socks, one pair of wool gloves.

  • My reflective cycling jacket.

Shirt total: 5
Pants total: 3

That's roughly the amount of clothing I pack for a long weekend vacation!

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