Friday, February 21, 2014
I was hoping the weather people let their latest successes go to their heads. Hoping that they had become paternalistic safety nazis that over hype the chance of a snow flake or two and a strong wind. Technically, they missed it for the Des Moines Metro. And if it was not for the 2" of hail that fell within 5 minutes at 11 am the "blizzard" would have been a non-event.
The ride to work was wonderful. Relatively warm for a February 5 am morning. Even had a rare tailwind. Mary and I were able to ride the first 8 miles together before parting ways. The usual suspects were on the trail as well, Paul and David. Paul has a bright light and we see him first. David has two dim lights.
I watched the radar all day. The "blue", snow, seemed to be on the usual moisture pattern I witnessed during the summer. Heading to the northeast and staying out of the line for Des Moines. But it hooked over and then clobbered us with hail before the snow began. Schools were closing early. My place of employment closed early too at 3 pm. I get off at 3 anyway.
Having taken the now flooded Clive Greenbelt trail for the past two days I opted for the bee line home. Head east on Westown Pkwy and Buffalo Rd to get to the trail 4 miles away. Use sidewalks if necessary. This is the same route that I took during the Thursday that the metro came to a halt because of snow. Bonus would be the 25 mph tailwind.
Glad I was heading home to the southeast. My northern and western jaunts in the parking lot were painful. The wind gave the snow an icy bite. But I managed to get out of there in one piece. And I got to the trail 4 miles later safely.
The trail was where the fun began. Windsor Heights had their section plowed! Awesome! But a short lived awesomeness. After the dog park Des Moines takes over and no plows had touched the trail. The surface was wet and slushy. One other bike had been here before me and its tracks visible and about 2" deep. This winter mix slowed me down a jet or two. I was also getting wet. Occasionally I crossed long and deep puddles. Nothing up to the bottom bracket but I knew the bike would need some attention during the weekend.
So I plugged along, slush and puddles and snow. I stopped at Mullets for a celebratory shot of FireBall and beer just as I did that snowy Thursday last month. This time Mary and Dora joined me for dinner. Pizza and a pitcher Shiner Cheer. We'd need the energy for the morning.
While waiting for my family I spied David heading to Urbandale on the trail. Damn, the full force of the headwind and the speed sucking slush on the trail had slowed him down to a crawl. I ran outside to get him to turn around. I could arrange a SAG for him. He had about 10 miles to go in this bullshit. He looked, not recognizing me out of winter bicycling regalia and trudged forward into the 25 mph wind and icy snow. He backpack looked like it weighed 20 lb. Godspeed David.
In the morning Mary and I took the trail. Took forever to leave the house. Late. She got ahead of me and chose the trail instead of the streets. I prefer this because the streets would have been filthy and wet. Also, the 21 mph wind from the west would really impair our speed if we took to the streets. The trail blocks the wind. The 8 miles of ice I can handle. What I could not handle were the tracks.
There were three sets of bicycle tracks. One set was mine. There was one set of foot prints. I am very grateful that there were no more of either. Everything froze overnight. Tracks were hard and bumpy. And I could not avoid running into them. The bike tracks would grab my tires and threaten to throw me down. The footprints were annoying bumps. Then the iced over puddles. Sometimes the tires would break through. Loud. RIP! ZZZZIPPP!! Splash! Never went down. Had to walk through a few. That's when my water proof boots paid for themselves.
Once passed the car wash (Grand Ave) there was a set of car tracks. Probably a truck. This made the bumps worse. Just get to the dog park where they had plowed. It took an hour to get there!
Finally Buffalo Rd. Faster than the trail but my rear derailleur froze in a steep gear which ate up more time on my climbs. But I survived. Finally the wind. Once on top of Westown Pkwy the wind kicked in. But steady as she goes determination I reached work.
On the brightside I was never cold. The previous week's below Zerex temperatures made this morning's 23 F feel warm despite the wind. I also heard cardinals sing. If those birds have begun the procreation ritual then Spring must be near.
Going home was a breeze. The trail was plowed the best they could do. Sure, some puddles existed but I could make decent time. Another tough day during this long winter. Commuting needs to be an Olympic Sport. Mary, Paul, Davis and I would medal!
Speaking of whom, we saw Paul but not David. I bet David took the streets.