First Tracks 2008
That's what Noah called his challenge to all of us to commute to work on our first day of the new year. Of course, as part of my own challenge to myself to bike commute every work day from May 1, 2007 to May 1, 2008, I would have ridden anyway. Still, it's nice to participate.
I left the house at 6 degrees F, which wasn't too bad in itself. I added an additional fleece layer, up top, and wore my ear protector thingy along with my little thin beanie and the hood on my LeMond winter jersey. Otherwise, I dressed in my normal "chilly morning" attire.
I once again rode the pink bike, with the SnowCats. I'd rather be riding the fixed gear, but the weather we've had lately makes it hard to deal with my tire choices on that bike. On the Miami Vice fixie, I am limited to choosing between the snow chains, or my standard tires. With long stretches of dry pavement interspersed with long stretches of packed snow, the wide soft tires on the pink bike work better than either of those choices, overall, though not as well as one or the other in the extremes.
This morning, however, I found myself wishing for studded tires. The weather we have had, lately, has produced a cyclist's nightmare on my commuter route. The sun has shone just enough to melt the very top layer of snow, in many places, but not enough to evaporate the moisture. So, in the afternoons, you end up with water sitting on top of ice.
In the mornings, as I found out, today, that water has refrozen into a glassy, polished sheen with a coefficient of friction closely approximating zero. Twice, on the way to work, I was cruising right along when, without warning, the front wheel decided to simply slip to the right and throw me to the ground. Both times, I got up and just continued on, with no apparent damage, but it was annoying, to say the least. I was riding so slowly that my normal 35 minute commute (40 in the snow, lately) took me 48 minutes.
I got to work and noticed that the hook which holds one of my panniers to the bottom of the rack had broken off during a crash. So, alittle damage. Then a couple of hours later, I noticed my left knee was tender and swollen. A little more damage.
I got the bag secured, with no problem. The knee was no big deal. But, all day long, I wondered what was going to confront me on the way home. The weather forecast called for temps in the upper thirties and sunshine. Would that improve the road conditions, or further degrade them?
The ride home was slow; slushy in places, snowy in others, with very little dry pavement on my homeward route. It took me an hour, exactly, to ride the 8.9 miles to the house. It's pretty simple math to figure out my average speed...
Tough ride, but, as always, fun and satisfying. I tell you, the ride back and forth is the only reason I even go to work, some days!