Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finally Snow!!!

me on the 520 about 10 years ago

After a whiney rant about boredom and how I need winter to deny me bicycle enjoyment it finally snowed.  Not much.  Perhaps we got a half inch.  The snow came with the coldest temperatures of the season, 10F, and a polar blast of 40 mph winds.  Yep, winter arrived. 

We did not get a gradual cool down.  We got a shock.  Tuesday it was 60F and I rode with bare legs to Cumming for tacos.  Wednesday the temp dropped a tad and the winds began to howl.  I debated whether or not to swap tires and bikes with the incoming frozen precipitation.  I gambled to leave well enough alone but consider changing pedals to accommodate boots.  I am not willing to pay $200 for the Elton John Lake winter bicycle boots when I have 3 pairs of regular boots that keep my feet warm and dry.  That's how I roll.

After work I stopped at B&B Grocery Store to get food for the family.  Rose always has a computer and a tv going and I glanced at the radar.  Thin line of snow in the northwest corner of the state..  It aint gonna happen.  Rolled home, dropped the food off and told the family to feed themselves.  Wednesday I have stuff to do at church.

Imagine my surprise when someone a few hours later told that it was snowing.  "No fucking way," would have been my response but since I was in the house of God, "really?  The radar did not show it at 5pm."  Sure enough, silent white death was falling.  Just a dusting.  I had no troubles on the 520 with its Bontrager H2s road tires.

So when the alarm went off the next day I had to make the decision on what bike to take.  The red Phoenix has the Kenda Pro cross tires which got me through last winter.  But it was buried in the shed.  I offered to put the studded tires on Mary's bike last night but she said it was ok without them.  That really was the determining factor.  Mary was ok with hers and the snow never amounted to much.

Bontrager H2 tire on 520 at Grazianos friday the 13th, 2012

The snow was a nice dry powder and when combined with the 40 mph winds blew clear off the trail.  road tires were fine.  I rode the rest of the week on that bike.  Thursday, the morning after the snow I made it safely to work.  No issues.  I rode downtown to CABCO's Mug Club Party to celebrate.  So much for snow.

And it all melted away.  Saturday I exchanges Dora's clarinet for a drum and bell set at Up Tempo Music in Beaverdale.  I will note that the Neal Smith Trail was still snow covered from University to Lutheran Hospital.  Too much wind cover to blow the snow away.  No issues with the bike.  However, getting the instruments home was almost a challenge.  I should have taken the Burley trailer.  Without it I had to place the snare drum in one pannier and the carrier with bells in the other.  I used my bike lock as a bungee cord to secure it.  These made it safely home without falling out or getting damaged.  Note to self--carry bungee's for just that sort of situation.

520 with drum and bell combo set

Sunday was a beautiful day.  It got up to 53F.  Unfortunately, I had the writing bug and spent most of the day banging away at the key board.  I was extremely productive and my family honored my request to be left alone.  Later that evening I took a spin on the Raleigh 3 speed. 50s and all I rode was one mile.  But with the mild winter we are having I felt I could squander such opportunities.

Monday was MLK Day and Brad Overhauser (sp) rode up the Visitor Center along the NST.  Snow even more vanished than before. He took a road bike, me my trust 520.  I spotted a blue bird, a good sign of Spring although I always spot them just before a major snow storm.  I think they are as dumb as the robins that come back too early.  Maybe they want their photo on the front page of the newspaper.  A blue bird buried in snow, caption "Back Too Soon!!"  But with the warm weather maybe this one never left..  And the forecast was for 3/10" of snow overnight.  What a gorgeous sunny day.  Snow was the last thing I thought of before retiring to bed.

I did not sleep well.  The space heater in the computer room kept sounding its alarm and I turned it down two or three times.  The 3 shots of Absolute Citron had been processed and my body was no longer sedated.  I got up 10 minutes before the alarm was to go off.  Looking out the window I about let loose my bowels.  A world in white.  Several inches it seemed.  Howling winds.  Mary's commuter and mine with street warm weather tires.  Holy crap!!

I dressed slowly and heated up.  I think they said it was 15F with -5F wind chill.  Mary would have to fight a head wind.  I would battle a cross wind.  I went to the shed and pulled out two bikes.  My Trek 920 with Continental Explorers for tires.  I raced successfully on those but today they would carry Mary to work.  The red Phoenix for me.  No racks, back pack days.

The ride to work was slow.  Although the snow was not slick and the trail mostly clear it was slow going.  The wind literally push me sideways once or twice.  It took me 15 extra minutes.  I chose to take the sidewalk along Park Ave because of cars.  the first amjor snow turns the roads into amature night.  Safer of the sidewalk.  Let them kill each other, I got to get to work.

I came up with a new term.  "Psychwalk."  A psychwalk is a section of concrete that looks like a sidewalk but is not.  Rather it is lid for a storm sewer or utility hole. When the sidewalk ended I saw the psychwalk and was able to get two full pedal strokes on it.  Bastards.

I am used to this.  The grass from the end of the walk to my turn is level and easy going.  I did forget about the hole after the rail tracks and almost did a face plant.  I did not crash but the bike stopped and I had to put a foot down.

After work the sun was out.  it warmed up to 19F.  Winds were still strong from the NW at 25 mph.  I headed north anyway.  I took the trail to Windsor Heights so i could shop at Hy Vee.  The trail was clear and what remained of the snow was melting.  The refreeze was apparent on my return trip but I never slipped or crashed.  Please note that the raccoon River Bridge was not cleared or plowed.  Also, plowing on 235 dumps snow onto the trail near the dog park.  And yes, people take their dogs to the park even if the temps drop below 20F.

If a plow goes by tonight I will take the 520.  E Granger Ave has not been plowed.  For that matter, I never saw Public Works drench the roads with brine like they did Monday and Tuesday last week for the dusting on snow we received.  They apparently were not expecting it.  So my road is kind bad,  Snow smashed by cars creating a surface akin to sand.  Yep, red bike tomorrow.

The forecast is a roller coaster.  Above freezing tomorrow, below the next day.  more snow on Friday.  Above freezing for the weekend.  I saw some single digits.  Yes, Virginia, there is a winter in Iowa.

Today's clothing.  Since it was almost 20F in the morning I wore my Cannondale long sleeve jersey with my US Army cold weather undershirt as the top warmth layer.  My faded yellow Trek rain jacket for the shell.  Bike socks and two pair of winter socks.  Herman's Survivors boots.  Thermal long johns on my legs with my chef pants as an out layer. One blackavavavcavavca face mask and a hat.  Performance winter gloves, Goretext.  I was warm and dry.  I do note that my ass was getting wet on Park Ave on my way home from melting snow.

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