Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Clack, Clack, Clack, Clack, Clack!

Yesterday we finally got a measurable amount of snow. I really look forward to the more extreme weather these days as it provides a new element to keep workouts interesting and sometimes exciting. Riding home last night the snow was just beginning to fall in earnest. Each year I forget, but then am rudely reminded by the first snow, just how much blowing snow stings when it’s pelting your eyes. I need a new pair of clear lens glasses. By the time I had put the bike away and changed into running clothes, there was about an inch on the ground and the temperature was starting to fall fast. Running at night when the snow is falling is one of my favorite times. The world is more quiet and peaceful, or so it seems at least.

This morning I believe the weather person was saying 11 degrees with a -6 wind chill as I was walking out the door to ride into work. There looked to be about 2 to 3 inches of snow and the road was fully covered. The cars on the road, after stopping at the stop sign in front of our house, were all revving their engines and spinning their tires trying to get up the little hill there. The bike handled the conditions well though as I pulled out onto the road. It doesn’t hurt that I have the snow bike outfitted with a DIY studded tire, fenders and upright riding position. Occasionally I could feel the front wheel begin to slip out but then the studs would catch and stop the slide. It’s a little disconcerting to lose traction under the front wheel when riding faster but all you have to do is keep a loose grip on the bars and keep the wheel pointed forward. I had some trouble when riding through some of the chunks and piles thrown by snow plows but for the most part, if I stayed in the right tire track cars left behind, I could maintain the speed of traffic.

With today’s winter clothing using high tech fabrics and designs, any temperature is manageable. There is the slogan, “there is no bad weather, only bad gear.” It’s actually very similar to dressing for skiing. It might be even easier to stay warm since you are staying aerobically active the entire ride. I did have a slight issue with my fingers getting cold from the gusting sub zero northwest wind. One thing I have learned about riding in low temperatures is that if your hands get cold, you should change hand positions often. It allows for better circulation and exposes different parts of your hands to the wind. Moving my hands around helped a lot but my hands stayed cool until I got to work.

At some point when plowing through one of the snow plow deposits my front fender caught one of the tire studs and bent the fender inward to rub against the tire. I would just take the fenders off but there is a lot more road spray and gunk in the winter than you would imagine. The bend wasn’t causing the tire to be unable to roll but it did create this horrible sound as the metal studs in the tire were hitting the thin plastic fender. Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack! For a little while, I tried to get all zen with the sound and just embrace it. After about 2 minutes however, it seemingly got much louder and even more annoying. When I reached a safe spot to get out of traffic, I had to stop and fix it. Luckily, whether in my backpack or seat bag, I have all the tools I would need to almost completely disassemble the bike if necessary. Within a few minutes I had the fender re-aligned and wheel spinning quietly again.

Looking out the window now, the sun is shining and it appears the roads are clearing up. The ride home may not be quite as fun.

Week of January 3 - 80 Bike, 24 Run

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