Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conversion by ICE!!

Brand spanking studded tires that will go on Mary's bike

So Billy Badass is trying to see how long he can go without having to the studded tires on.  He is a cheapskate.  Studs have a limited lifespan.  Basically, they are only good for one season.  Last year I did not even bother to put the ice tires on.  Never seemed to be an issue.  Skill versus handicap.  yeah, skill could lead to crutches and a handicap flyer to hang on the mirror.

Friday I was thinking that maybe I could repeat.  November, December and over half of January now archived, what are the chances.  Besides, I really hate changing tires.  It is the messiest, dirtiest and at times the most frustrating aspect of bicycle maintenance.  Wait for an ice storm.  Wait for a flat.  Wait for the Lord to knock me on my ass on the icy road to Damascus. 

So I gambled last night.  Despite the drizzle and the meltation the prospect of the 2am snow storm favored keeping the Kenda Pros on.  Sure it may freeze BUT a fresh layer of snow on the trail would cover any ice that dared to form.  And it did.

My ride to work was uneventful.  I could only smile smugly as I heard tale after tale of near death experiences from those that drove to the PFG call center.  Not one issue I experienced.  Never had to put a foot down.  Never felt the rear wheel cut loose.  Did not slip.  Did not fall.  Just count on good old evaporation or high enough temps that would prevent ice or the dreaded REFREEZE.

8 or so hours later I left the warm confines of 6200 Park Ave.  Had a bit of trouble going up 61st.  Find the line.  Too many vehicles had smashed the snow and pressured it into ice.  Safer in the middle of the road.  Low traffic at this time of day.

At the top of the hill is Thorten Ave.  This is a short cut from SeigWerks on 56th to 63rd.  Weitz Construction has their headquarters there.  Carpetner Uniforms is located there which explains the presence of various police departments on any given week day.  Kevlar to safety vests, they got em!.  What they did not have was salt.  Thorten was 100% ice.  What was once a crunchy safe road to ride on at 6 am was now a treacherous ice rink.  What on a good day would be a fast ride and apply brakes at 30 mph before the stop sign became a downhill of woe.  Speed as not recommended today.  Gently apply brakes, rear more than front.  Keep balance.  Easy, the rear wheel just locked up and slid a few degrees to the left.  Not fun.

I really do not need to crash anymore.  3 or 4 years ago I was struck by the hand of God and broke my ass.  Riding with some CITA people through the back loop of Water Works Park I was flung down violently and without warning to the pavement.  My head bounced and my left butt cheek took 99% of the impact.  It still hurts to sit for long periods of time after all these years.  Bruised tailbone?  Something broken?  Pinched nerve?  Something still aint right.  But I can still ride and I had no problems climbing 12,441 feet in New Mexico back in 2009.  But do I want to sit in a car for a road trip?  Fuck no.  Do I want them to slice my ass open to fix it?  No way, remedy worse than the problem.  So I live with it.  Kinda like Archie Bunker's shrapnel.

So crashing on my left is no freakin' bueno.  My right side took a bad hit when I crashed the 520 at 30mph.  Failure to pay attention to my line resulting in learning to brush my teeth with my left hand.  Try this sometime if you are right handed.  It will make you feel retarded or like a stroke victim.  Then try to wipe your ass with the other hand.  Broken collarbones are interesting and humbling.

So why then did I find myself asking for Raphael the Archangel's intercession today?  Seriously, why did I put off the tire swap?  Laziness?  Carelessness?  La la la live for today? 

I snapped out of my fear and road on the grass.  Better traction, no ice.  The only thing I had to watch out for were the tire marks left behind by cars and trucks that jumped the curb because of the ice.  There were a few.  I took the grass all the way to the sidewalk on Park.  Then I used the sidewalk.  I wanted a sign on my back that read "DON'T GET USED TO THIS CAGERS.  I WILL BE BACK ON THE ROAD SOON."

Red Phoenix along Thornton Ave.  The line in the grass is the track I made yesterday riding in the grass.  Please rotate your monitor counterclockwise for better viewing

And then I was.  Park Ave nice and clear.  My next adventure was going through Water Works.  They do not plow or salt or sand Water Works.  The crunchy road this morning was now an icy hell.  I went off road again.  Just needed about a mile to get to the trail.  The grass along the road was very bumpy.  Water Works is Old English for "place where we let cars drive on wet soggy grass".  Tire track bumps everywhere, remnants from Big Country Bash and Holly Jolly Lights.  But it was safer than the road.  Eventually I had to get on the road and it was slow going.

Finally the trail is reached.  Guess what?  They plowed the snow off of it.  They are very good about clearing the snow off of the trail between Gray's Lake and Water Works.  Unfortunately, I wanted the snow on the trail to keep the surface from becoming icy.  Too late but rideable.  Slow and steady.  Not sudden moves.  Stay clean.  Look for your tracks from 530 am.  Yep, there they are, almost fossilized in the ice.  Mary's are here too!  I did ride the grass along the levy from 7th St bridge to Mullets.  Faster and safer.

I made it home safely without incident.  A little stressed and a bit pissed at myself for not swapping tires on Sunday.  The only time I had to put a foot down was when I left home to go to B&B for dinner supplies.  residential streets are bad right now in Little Italy.  Hopefully the sun's love will clear them up.

So....24 hours have passed since the previous paragraph.  What did Billy Badass do???  Left the computer and made dinner.  Returned to the other pc and played Panzer General.  Listened to Mary's adventurous ride home.  Ate dinner, went to bed after attempting to find something to watch on tv.

I gather the studded tires.  One pair was in the basement which required moving 2 or 3 bikes out of the way.  The other set was in the shed which required a treacherous walk through the backyard in freezing conditions.  I asked Mary if she wanted me to switch hers out.  She said no.  Weather was to improve.  Until then, road action.  So I put it off once again.

Tracks of the elusive Red Phoenix.  These tracks were left 24 hours prior on Thornton Ave

The ride in the morning was interesting.  I planned to leave earlier than normal and take the streets all the way.  I did this one time before when Des Moines was covered with a foot of snow and the trail had not yet been plowed. Simple route.  Indianola Rd to Thomas Beck to Bell (the same road with 3 different names).  Then a right on SE30th to Flagg.  Plowed, ice free industrial streets.  However, I went to Mullets first, mostly on instinct but upon arrive I noticed how bad the trail looked and turned around.  A 1/2 mile error.

The rest of the trip was uneventful.  I was passed by maybe 10 cars total.  more like 6.  The ride paralleled the trail and I could see it often.  Flagg still flooded out at the same damn spot it always floods at.  Good grief!  With record high unemployment and record high Mexican working force (construction) can somebody dig a fucking draining ditch on the south side of Flagg so the water can stay off the road?  Is it that difficult?  Pay people in beer and provide shovels.  Done in a day!!

And as Mary predicted, the sun came out and melted the ice by the time I left work.  It was warmer than Jerrianne Ritter said it would be, 34F v 30F.  Thornton was very rideable.  Water Works was clear and dry.  My beloved trails were ice free although there could be some icy spots in the morning.

So I was bailed out again.  Guess what I did when I got home????  Cleaned and lubed the chain of the Red Phoenix.  What?  Think I feel like getting my hands dirty changing tires?  Not today, mate, not today.

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