Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I'd Rather Ride When It Snows

Rain in the 40s this time of year is the WORST.  No matter how I dress for it I get wet.  My glasses get wet and my vision fails.  Gotta have some sort eye protection even if contacts are worn.  Just like fighting off 100 chihuahuas, kill 45 and there are still 55 left.  Rain and wetness seep into even the smallest microscopic hole in fabric.  It ruins bikes.  Nobody wants to be in it unless it had been 100F and 200% humidity.  40s and rain is cold and miserable.  So it was yesterday.

Snow on the other hand is a different beast.  It can be breath taking beautiful.  People actually want to be outside and play in it.  Peaceful is a word to describe it.  Most importantly, I can dress for it.

Yesterday.   November 8, The Year of Our Lord 2011.  Forecast called for rain and then snow.  Lots of each.  I had enough clothing in my lockers at work to last a few days.  We probably had enough food to get by or a quick stop at Grazianos or B&B Supermarket could be done without much effort.  I did not want to ride my 520 and get it wet and rusty.  So I had to ride a bicycle without racks and bags.

Choices were slim.  One mtb with a flat.  One mtb that I do not ride to work unless no other bikes are functioning for the conditions.  One commuter stolen.  One commuter with flat tire and awaiting new cassette and chain.  One commuter without tires awaiting rebuild.  Road bikes in similar situations.  One that does not see rain.  One awaiting chain tool.  One in need of a few parts.  Another awaiting rebuild.

Mary was taking her winter commuter.  Joe a mtb.  That left the recently acquired Raleigh-LTD3.  A good choice for a shit day.  Internal gearing and fenders.  Only $40 invested into it.  It has taking me to Cumming and back.  Tires hold air.  A rack and bags would be a nice option but yesterday that was not going to happen.

Raleigh LTD-3 day of purchase with the 520.  Handle bar position has been corrected 1/2 hour after photo was taken.
 The rain was light when I left home for work.  Misty.  Heavy mist sorta light drizzle.  Not bad.  I watched the weather reports all day at work.  There was a possibility that there would be a window of dryness for the commute home.  When I rolled out of the call center a little before 3 pm, I missed that opportunity.  Light rain again.

It was what the Navajos call a "female rain".  Light and gentle.  Nourishing for the earth and its plant life and water ways.  Never violent.  Just never ending nagging wetness.  A "male rain" is a violent gully washer.  Quick and full of thunder and lightning.  Not unlike a torrent of cussing from and angry man.  Soon the sun pops out and all is forgotten.  Nope, this bitch was a woman.

Resigning myself to the inevitable I rode home quickly.  I stopped underneath the Indianola/3rd St bridge to remove glass from a broken Budweiser bottle that some thoughtless asshole smashed.  A second stop at Grazianos for Italian sausage, marinara and roasted red bell peppers.  My last stop was at the VFW hall for the election.  I was the 25th person to vote there.  4pm.

Once home I put on dry clothing and plugged my phone in and made some tea.  Almost, almost fell asleep watching tv while the tea seeped in my mug.  The rain never ended.  It picked up a bit and the wind got worse.

It was nearly 630pm when I started dinner.  The kids were having hot dogs.  I was not.  I cooked the sausage link in the oven and then sliced it up into small pieces to mix in the marinara with the roasted peppers.  Low carb tasty goodness.  Mary would like this I hoped despite the lack of pasta and bread.

Mary was scheduled off at 6pm.  I was expecting her to be home about 7pm.  At 647pm I went back to my bedroom and saw that I had a new text on my charging phone.  It was from Mary.  "Flat tire.  Walking".  612pm  FUCK

I immediately called her.  "Where are you?'

M-"Just past the trestle." (please look back on older blog posts about my dislike of the use of the word trestle)

There are many "trestles".  I had I in mind.  The bridge on the Trestle to Trestle trail or InterUrban trail.  "Which one?"

"The rail bridge."

4.5 miles away from home on the Bill Riley Trail.  Target located.

"I can walk."

"Bullshit.  I will be right there with the pump."

It was dark thanks to the return of Standard Time and the Earth's rotation on its axis this time of year.  I grabbed the 520 and threw the pump in a rear pannier and then dressed.  I wore my water proof hiking boots that have taken me to 12,441 feet above sea level in the Rookie Mountains and through all of last winter in Iowa.  Although SPD pedals are on the 520 currently, I can manage.

It was pissing with rain and wind.  Heading north to Mullets and the trail sucked.  Glad Mary is walking south.  By the time I reached the trail, 1/2 mile, my glasses were useless and counterproductive.  I guess they kept my eyeballs free of rain but my vision was greatly impaired.

I was 3.4 miles out when I saw the flasher.  Chances are that it was her.  No one else would be out in this shit this late.  It was her. Amen.  I was impressed that she walked a mile to my prepping and 3+ miles.

Rear tire.  Shit!  If it was the front we could swap tires for tomorrow's snow ride.  I really did not want to change a tube after this. 

Locating the stem was the first task.  Then ripping off my now getting soaked gloves.  I think it was still in the 40s.  65 psi could not be reached fast enough.    "One mile to the Fleur Viaduct.  Get there as fast as you can."

Put the pump back in the bag.  Struggle getting wet gloves back on.  Noticed that her rear flasher was not on.  Get rolling.

She got over a half mile.  At least she crossed 30th.  "I don't want to ruin the rim," Mary said when I caught up with her walking.  My take off was slow.  Good attitude, caring for the wheel.  I have been know to ride 2 to 3 miles on a flat to get to work on time.  The tire dies before the wheel.  "Turn your flasher on and straddle the bike while I pump."

This time we got as far as Fleur.  The stem was sitting very low in the tire.  I just kept my gloves off.  Too much hastle.  Just wanted to get home and eat and dry off.  In reverse order, dry then eat.  "One and a half miles to next underpass (dry spot).  Go Go Go!!"

She made it but stopped about ground zero of the broken Bud bottle explosion.  Final airing of the tire.  We were .8 miles from home.  She could do this.  No where else to stop.  She made it.  Thank you Lord.

I wa soaked and tired.  But tomorrow's commute needed to be addressed.  Another commuter out of service.  The 520 was wet and was equipted with tires that would be worthless in snow.  I was too tired to change tires and tubes.  Musical bikes.

Simple solution.  Mary would ride Katie/Joe's Trek 830 mtb.  He would ride the Raleigh 2 miles to work downtown.  And I would pull my seldom used mtb out of the shed and ride it.

We woke up about 230 am.  the dog needed out.  Around 3 am she was barking a lot.  At 4 am I got up.  Wow.  We got a lot of snow.  Joe got up early too.  I re-explained the bike situation.  Made sure that everyone had a lock.

I left home at 520 am.  I rode in the tracks created by cars.  Despite the large amount of snow, 3.7" the road was very very wet with puddles.  The trail was pure wet virgin snow.

It was a beautiful ride on the trail.  So much snow that I did not need my light.  I turned it off and looked for animal tracks.  No human had been out yet.  I blazed this trail.

All good things come to an end.  Mine ended near the Ikes when I left water Works park and got on Flagg then Park ave.  Enough cars had been on the road to facilitate more melting than what had occured on the trail.  Now my ass was getting wet.  My comfortable turning lane that I ride the  half mile of Park Ave was sluch and snow covered.  I opted for the side walk just to stay away from cars.  The last stretch of Park Ave has no side walk so I rode over the snow covered grass.  I was on a mtb, I can ride anywhere.

I amde it to work on time.  As promised by the weather folks the roads were snow free by the time I got done working.  the sun was out and it felt good to ride home.  Pick up a tube and think about dinner..  And be glad the rain had ended.

1 comment:

  1. Brad has his first commute to work in the snow yesterday and ended up working till almost 7. No complaints! But I think he will long for 4 tires instead of 2 before the temps dip much more.