Monday, December 10, 2007

Look at that idiot on the bike!

I'm sure if I had been a fly on the inside-window of a car, I would've heard that a time or two this morning. (As I rode past motorists... them being hampered by traffic jams and such.)

It snowed a half-inch or so in these parts this morning, just as drive-time was starting.

That, of course, caused a couple of inevitable side effects:
- A good percentage of the area's motorists went into panic mode.
- Another meaningful percentage of 'em huffed and puffed confidently, because they have macho SUVs, and are "prepared." (These are the ones who aren't paying attention, and haven't noticed that when it snows, a large majority of vehicles-involved-in-accidents are macho SUVs, pickups, etc.)
- Our road surfaces quickly deteriorated, because snow events are infrequent enough that the road maintenance agency is ill prepared to quickly handle it. Especially when it comes right as drive-time is getting started.

One of my fellow workers was lamenting that it took her 55 minutes to go 10 miles. Another told me he saw 6 accidents on the inbound I-84. He drives about that same distance, and it took him an hour and 15 minutes.

I rode my bike. It took me 15 minutes instead of the usual 13, for my 3.5 mile commute.

Designated bike lanes become meaningless when the roads (and lane stripes) are covered with snow. Typically the car-lane moves to the right and occupies part or all of the bike lane.

My strategy is to stay far-to-the-right and try not to put myself in harm's way. (For example, where there's a curve in the road or a downward slope, it's more likely that motorists will have problems, than along a straight, flat stretch of roadway.) More detailed winter riding strategy here.

One of the numerous differences between riding a bike and driving a car is - you get much more "road feel" on a bike. If it's slippery, and you're paying attention and have the experience to know what you're feeling, there's a different feel at the slightest hint of your tires losing traction. It's just a matter of tuning in those feelings, and knowing how to react (also a matter of experience)... and hoping and expecting that other roadway users will be responsible enough not to plow into you!

(When I hear my fellow workers' tales-of-woe about their hour-long commutes because they live so far from work, it's difficult not to think to myself, "Look at those idiots in their cars!")


Anonymous said...

My commute this morning took about the same amount of time as normal. With the dry snow the traction was actually better than I expected. When I crossed I-84 at Five Mile at about 10am the eastbound traffic was still bumper-to-bumper.

Once I arrived at work I also heard a number of tales of woe, especially from Nampa area commuters. One commented that today it was better to ride a bike than drive a car.

Anonymous said...

My commute took a little bit longer as well, but I loved this post.

However riding to the far right proved to be quite dangerous as well. I hit a rock that was covered in snow so I couldn't see it and ate asphalt.

Anonymous said...

I had my best "Why" moment today. It was why are you in that line of cars? I passed about 15 cars at the bottom of Harrison Blvd that were waiting at the stoplight.

Anonymous said...

Hello there

I was reading one of your posts on power you are a little off on power. No rider in the world can sustain 375 watts in ther arobic zones, Lance hour power was about 410 watts, floyd was around 380, the hour record was around 430! Bjorn sindballe 180lbs vo2max 87 his ironman wattage is 300-310, and that is around 4.5 hours. 375 watts for a 70kg rider in a time trial postion on a flat road with no wind would be traviling around 30mph

Bikeboy said...

Good comments all! (Trent - I hope your asphalt consumption wasn't in the literal sense! I hate crashing - frozen ground is so HARD!)

Anonymous... you must be referring to this post. As cited therein, I was quoting from a book, Bike Cult, page 211. I'm no expert on energy production or consumption; the author, David Perry, seems well-read and expert on the many facets of bicycling, so I took (take?) him at his word. Cheers indeed, and thanks for the comment.