Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Strikes Back

#VikingBikingDM has landed!  Early today!  One other bike would be here today.

Our wonderful January ended with rain then snow and it snow for 24 hours.  I think we got a foot of snow in Des Moines between Saturday and Sunday.The jealous north wind picked up and the temperature fell through the floor.  Monday's morning commute not only would be cold but potentially slick with the snow and ice.  We were prepared.

I pulled out the Red Phoenix which had been idle for 2 weeks.  Mary rode the studded tire equipped Schwinn MTB.  We knew the trails would be buried under the snow so we took to the streets without hesitation.  Our route would be mainly Ingersoll Ave to break out of Des Moines and hit the suburbs.  Miracolously, I woke up early and was able to leave home 1/2 hour earlier than normal.

Fortunately, an attempt to plow the pedestrian bridge that borders Principal Park was made.  The clearing made it easier to ride across.  In previous winters we often had to walk our bikes across this bridge.  Not today.  The MLK Trail was clear to albeit the intersections required us to dismount and climb a wall of snow several times.

My empty bottle of water.

Ingersoll was a long slow climb but the surface was decent.  When we crossed 42nd St Mary said she wished she had remembered a water bottle.  I reached for mine to give her thinking it was probably frozen but it was empty.  Something about these cold mornings and the extra effort it takes to ride on snow covered streets and climb long inclines that makes one thirsty.  I could have used some water at that moment.

Polk Blvd was are parting place. Mary turned north since she was headed to Urbandale.   I considered taking it north to University but did not feel like climbing the three hills.  Instead I continued on Ingersoll until it curved and eventually met Grand Ave.  I took Grand all the way to 8th St in West Des Moines and then coasted downhill to the Buffalo Rd intersection.  Once there I resumed my usual route to work.  Despite being 4F I warmed up on my remaining two climbs.

The view from work.  Sunrise over Farm Bureau, western view.

The weather was better after work.  The temperature managed to increase to 13F  it was 14F when I got home thanks to the south wind.  Yes, headwind both ways.  The return trip was not so simple.  I tried my usual route of cutting straight to the Clive Greenbelt but the trail was not plowed.  I had to return to Farm Bureau and take the sidepath along Westown Pkwy.  But at 50th St the sidepath ends and the sidewalk did not look clear.  Since I left work late traffic was now a nightmare.  I tried to take 50th to Woodland but the bridge over the freeway was not clear of snow.  Another dead end.  back track to Westown Pkwy and cut through Lowe's and cross 50th.

I took Corporate Drive all the way to Home Depot and worked my way to 35th so I could cut through Valley West Mall's parking lot.  Two options here.  One was to hang a left and cross University and go behind Pier 5 Imports and find the sidepath along 86th St and hope it was plowed.  The other, my choice, was to get back on Westown and take it to Buffalo Rd and hope the trail was clear.

The trail was clear from 73rd to the dog park.  The snow was too thick to ride through so I opted to take center St to 63rd and the side walk north to cross I-235 and cross 63rd there to the trail at Cummings Pkwy.  That trail was not clear either but it was a pleasant walk to the car wash where I could get back on the road and climb the hill to reach Ingersoll.

I was glad to be on the road again.  No more dead ends and backtracking.  Along the way to Ingersoll I ran into an old friend who was shoveling.  It was good to chat with him for a bit but I had to keep moving.

 Ingersoll was good until I crossed Polk Blvd.  The street was slush covered to compacted snow and the bike lane was often hidden underneath.  Truly amazing that I did not crash or get hit by a car on Ingersoll.  Took a lot of skill to keep the bike upright and find a clean line.

Fun and games.  I needed a photo of my bike next to "Washington" for Bicycle Ride & Seek.   Minor distraction on the long ride home.

At last I reached 15th which I followed down to cross MLK and get back on the sidepath.  2 miles to go!  What a great feeling.  They still needed to clean up the intersections but I was on my home stretch.  Amen!  What I needed was the the plowing of the trail system OR the same amount of traffic I experienced on the way to work...NONE.  The trails were still buried with the exception of the section that runs through Windsor Heights.  Somehow, someway, I made home alive.

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