Thursday, February 14, 2008

The commute

When I started this blog, I wrote about my bike rides. I don't do that any more because I ride the same 12 miles twice a day and I really don't deviate much from that pattern. Last night was no exception. I rode the same 12 miles as ussual, but I think the circumstances warrent a description. Grammie, Mom, you may not want to read this.

I started in Provo and it was snowing a little. Not a big deal, I ride in the snow regularly. The streets were wet, but nothing was sticking to asphalt yet. Even though I was on my fixie with 25 mm tires, I figured the ride would be fine. In fact, heading South through Provo was a piece of cake. It was wet, so I got the spray off my tires that soaked my bottom half, but I was plenty warm. When I got to Khuni road at the South end of Provo, I started seeing a little snow stuck to the road.

It still wasn't a big deal. I had a solid 20+ mph tail wind. I can't get a ride when I feel that good. Besides, nobody offered me a ride and by the time on Khuni road, there aren't any bus stops for miles. I don't recall the exact point, but things changed quickly. It got dark (although I do have a great light setup), the wind picked up and it began to snow harder. I started sliding a little, so I slowed down and unclipped my right shoe from the pedal. This was a devastating move because I had a tailwind well over 20 mph and I had to watch the snow blow by me while I worked to stay upright.

Getting to the South side of Khuni road was just a little sketchy, but things were not improving. The road turned West, so that I got a good portion of the wind right in the face. My right cheek went numb. I wonder if the snow accumulated on my cheek. It was certainly possible. I turned back South and had to go through a major intersetion. I was quite grateful for how courteous the drivers were last night. I was stopped at the stop light and saw several pairs of headlights headed my way. I knew that I was standing on ice, and that they would be unable to stop, but they approached VERY slowly and kept it safe. Heading in front of the Wal-Mart store was the last time I saw asphalt, the weather was certainly not improving.

I got back out of traffic, but the roads were nothing but ice. I found that if I rode on the 'shoulder' in the two inches of powder, I didn't slide as much. So I stayed off the road. My brakes froze, so I was glad that i was on my fixie so I could use my pedal speed to slow down. OK, I wasn't ever going fast enough to need to slow down.

The next time I turned West, I realized just how strong the wind was and how hard it was snowing. Had someone offered me a ride at that point, i would have taken it. So now I had a gusty head wind that was coming at an angle so that it was a cross wind as well. This also happens to be the point on my ride where I have the only hill on my ride. OK, it's an overpass, I can hardly call it a hill. Except last night, it was challenging. There isn't a shoulder on this part of the ride, so I had to ride on the packed snow and ice. The cross wind was hard enough that I had to lean into it in order to avoid being blown over. With my tires on ice, and leaning into a gusty wind, I thought for sure the wind would blow my bike out from under me, but it never did. The top of the overpass was the worst because it is completely exposed, with wind going over and under the road which made it pretty sketchy. I went very sowly down the other side of the overpass.

I got on some more good backroads that had plenty of powder to ride in. Then I saw the 18 wheeler coming and the car behind me. Of course we all met at the same time, but again the car behind me was quite kind and waited. When I waved to thank him when he finally passed, he gave a friendly honk. I don't get those very often.

Then I started hearing a metalic pinging sound that sounded like a spoke breaking. But I heard it so often that I would have been well out of spokes before i got home. I was still upright, so I kept going. When I got home, I found that the pinging was from the strap on my messenger bag. It had gotten wet and frozen and was pinging against the top tube.

I made it home without a single dab and without crashing. I even got first tracks on several sections of the commute. When I went out to my bike later that evening, the drive train had frozen solid. The rear wheel didn't spin at all. The front wheel would spin, but just barely and the brake was still frozen solid. It may be a while before I ride that bike again, it has some thawing to do.

This morning I rode my wife's mountain bike through 6-8 inches of fresh powder. It was tons of fun. I LOVE my commute!!

1 comment:

Heather said...

To go along with bike riding, Earl and I want to enter the El Tour De Tucson in November. Neither of us are experienced riders. Earl rides his bike to/from school, about 4 miles one way. What advice would you give for an amateur to be successful in the race? (By successful, I mean completing the race, not winning.) There is a 33, 67, 80, and 109 mile events. If I were to start training now, which event do you think I could enter, and what kind of training schedule show I have?