Friday, December 20, 2013

And Now the Ice...

The snow added traction.  It only seemed to snow around Farm Bureau.

I have survived, the cold, the snow, headwinds from hell and still keep riding a bicycle to work.  So the weather placed another card on the table today.  Ice.  It started about sunset yesterday.  Mist, drizzle, falling temperatures and continued overnight.  When I woke up everything outside was coated with a layer of ice.  But I have a bike with studded tires for just such occasions!  Or do I?

The one day I needed it.  But the rear wheel on my blue Trek 920 was kaput.  Serious attention was needed.  I have ridden it to work maybe 3 times since pulling it out of storage and prepping it for winter.  I took it yesterday because the freezing drizzle was supposed to begin about noon.  Never did.  And the closer I got to home the worse the wheel acted.  What needed a simple true developed into a horrid lumpy ride and then the tire started hitting the right chainstay.  Fooked.

1996 Trek 920.  Cheap wheels but American made bicycle.

With ample time and a truing stand I could have fixed this last night.  Right.  I stopped at Court Avenue Brewing Company for a Mug Club party and then took Moscow Mules over to Johnny Brook's house to commiserate the death of a neighbor kid.  Dumb moves.  But needed.   But I did bring home a ham and a turkey for Christmas dinner.  Wheel sacrifice not in vain!

Waking up a tad bit hung over I realized the error of my ways.  So I grabbed the red Phoenix and asked it to do its magic and haul my ass to work.  Why not drive the truck?  I could have done untold thousands of dollars in damages and possibly killed someone if I drove.  On a bicycle I just look stupid.  Besides, the city starts plowing early, I gambled that they would salt the roads early, too.

My street was icy so slow and steady.  No fast moves.  Half a mile away I reached the trail by Mullets.  Completely iced up.  Cross the bridge which is the ice equivalent of running the gauntlet and reach MLK.  This road was salted and wet so I took it all the way to 15th, cut up north to Ingersoll Ave.

Ingersoll was not treated when I pedaled on it.  I don't know what pissed me off more, the lack of de-icing or my stupid self for not fixing the wheel.  Anger not only is an energy but a heat source as well!  Slow and steady.  I did see one car screw up and hit a pole on 35th by Dahls.  Yep, the $2000 mistake.

My Go To Plan on crappy winter days is to ride downtown, get on Ingersoll and take that to the McDonald's on 63rd and Grand.  But the lack of road salt on Ingersoll changed that route.  Riding downhill on Ingersoll past Polk Blvd would have been suicide.   However, and thankfully, Polk Blvd was wet not icy.  Turn right and take a left on University.  University was clear and I took it all the way to the 5400 block or the Iowa Farm Bureau campus where I work.

There was only one bad spot on this route.  The intersection, specifically, the left turn lane on University and 86th St in Clive was icy.

The Red Phoenix at work.  This 2008 Trek FX 7.5 has been my workhorse, go to bike in winter.  This year no studded tires.  Just a set of Kenda cross tires.  Notice the salt stains on the concrete.  This photo was taken before the ice storm.

Now getting home was another story.  easy to ride on crap roads at 530 am when there are not cars.  3 pm is different.  Original plan was to take westown Pkwy to 50th, a left at Bradley's and work my way to 28th, turn right to reach Ashworth and then take that to 8th, right then left to get on Grand.  This is my winter route when trails are not rideable.  But I did not feel like playing in traffic on Ashworth.  I should have.  Just did not have the heart today.  So I headed to Wal Mart via Westown and Buffalo Rd.

At first I did sidewalk action.  I marvelled at how corporate America salts and sands sidewalks (lawsuits).  But when I hit Hurd properties the sidewalks were worthless and I took to riding on the grass.  My Trek FX is good offroad.  just one crash for the day.  i crossed an intersection and hit an icy sidewalk.  Time for the street, cars be damned.

Once I reached Wal Mart I tried the trail.  Needed ice skates so i rode on the shoulder to Mcdonald then cut up the back roads to Ingersoll.  Ingersoll Ave was much better after work, even the bike lanes.  Quick stop at Ingersoll Wine&Spirits for a bottle of Bolla Valepochella (no Bolla here) and I ran into Sam Gill.  The rest of the trip home was uneventful.  I opted to ride through Court Ave to reach 4th St to avaid the pedestrian bridge which was more than likely still dangerous.

So I have a date with a truing stand.  The trails are useless without studded tires until it warms up or the sun melts the ice.  The forecast says this ain't gonna happen soon.  On the way to work I did not crash and almost had to put my foot down once.  One crash on return trip.  Kinda queer, last year we had a major snow event the same week, almost to the day.  This year ice.  I'd rather have the snow.

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