Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Well, it was bound to happen eventually.

I had a weather-related crash.

Background info - we got about 8 inches of snow Thursday night and during the day Friday.  They reported it's the most snow on the ground in Boise since 2002, so it's unusual.  And since then, it's remained well below freezing, so the precipitation has mostly remained on the ground as well, in various forms.

I've soldiered on, riding my bicycle every day... the craigslist wider-tire beater bike that doubles as my baby bike.

Friday I still had the smooth treads on when I rode to work, and that afternoon I was sliding around like I was on water skis!  I switched over to the "knobby" tires Friday night, and it's been much better.  I rode to nearby destinations on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday I had the day off and no destinations, so I rode a couple miles at the park across the street.  (At least a mile-and-a-half was in the tennis courts, that had mostly "virgin" snow - I spent a half-hour or so making tire track patterns in that snow - fun!)

Yesterday I rode in to work again.  As always when traction is marginal, I try to stick to the side roads, bike paths, etc., and travel at a reasonable pace.  (Yeah, I know lots of people think the only reasonable bicycle pace is STOPPED, when the roads are slippery.  If I had a car, I'd probably drive instead... but I don't have a car.)  The morning ride was fine.  But I'm convinced it's always slipperier in the afternoon.  In the morning it seems like even the slipperiest places have "crystallized" a little on the surface.  By contrast, in the afternoon when the sun has been shining, they become glass smooth, and even have a liquid-lubricant surface.

It was on one of those zero-traction surfaces where I had my mishap.  It looked deceptively like it had a bit of sand and gravel... but not enough to provide any traction.  There was just enough of a sideways slope that... ZIP!... my wheels were out from under me without a bit of warning and POW!  I bounced off that slippery surface sideways.

And I was reminded that I'm a 61-year-old man!  I didn't bounce right back up like I might have, 25 or 30 years ago.

There were cars approaching from both directions, but with plenty of distance to slow down until I dragged my sorry carcass out of the way.  The reality... I had the scene cleared in probably 20 or 30 seconds, but it always seems longer.  The guy approaching "head on" rolled down his window and sympathetically asked if I was okay.  I was.

Other than de-chaining, my bicycle was fine.  And as it turns out, I think I'm fine, too.  The true test is the next morning when the alarm goes off and you have to get out of bed.  That's when you find out if you've wrenched a muscle or bruised a joint... something that will hurt for a week or a month.  But I didn't feel too bad.  Just the usual morning slow start.  Didn't even take an aspirin.

I thought about taking the bus.  But when you get bucked off, you have to get back on that pony.  So I rode.  Did fine on the morning commute... and I have high expectations for the afternoon commute as well.


Clancy Anderson said...

156I have been taking my alternative route in the mornings and my usual route on the way home. My usual route has the bike lane covered but I dont' mind "taking the lane". The cars have another to use and I ride about as fast as traffic and the stoplights.

I have found that when riding on the slippery stuff, I am seeking to find the low spots in the ruts before my tire does for me. I also been making using the right turn technique when I want to go left at intersections (like they do in New Jersey). This minimizes rut crossings.12

Jason Abbott said...

Glad you survived. It's certainly treacherous for two wheels out there. Here are a few pictures of our recent bike conditions.

Brock said...

The pedicab handles the snow quite well. The added drag slows me down a little, but the three wheels have notable stability advantages. When I catch a rut on my Schwinn, it gets serious. When the pedicab hits a rut, I grin a little.

(a picture is here, but I recommend Jason's pics over my little one)

The breakthrough for me on year-long riding was when I decided that it was odd that I could ski in the winter but couldn't ride a bike due to the cold here in the valley. Been riding in the winter ever since.