Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CSA Day the Sequel: Riders on the Storm

Hmm... It's pretty nice...I think I'll ride my bike today.

It was windy Sunday night before I crawled into bed at 11. The temperature was just a scosche above 40 degrees--not weather conducive to lots of snow (or so I thought). The weatherman said it was going to snow and I was admittedly disappointed that the weather was not cooperating with his prophecy. To my surprise as I awoke at 4am with a nagging bladder, our room was not dark as normal, but lit up with a soft, even light coming from our windows. Too tired to crack the blinds and check on the weather status, I fell back asleep for another hour. At five I got up to confirmed suspicions. It had snowed a little.

A little turned into a lot when I walked out to shovel the high-water-content snow. My conservative estimate is six inches at 5:30, but I think there was a bit more. The above photo was taken at 6:25 a.m. The pedal that is down is dragging in the snow.

I thought I would leave early to make it to work on time. At 6:30 I left, wearing dry jeans, wool socks, a fleece jacket and a windbreaker. I showed up to work at 7:05 wearing the same thing I was wearing when I left (you were hoping for something more racy, weren't you?) , only it was all soaked through like a used tissue. For a point of reference, it usually takes between 9 and 12 minutes to get to work. In my easiest gear I was pedaling as hard as I could just to keep my bike and trailer moving in the wet, heavy snow. The temperature was around 33 degrees and I was absolutely drenched in the first 5 minutes from exertion.

I pulled onto Brosterhous and rode in the tire track closest the fog line, which was easier to pedal in, but took all my focus to stay righted. This may be metaphorical: When you're riding in a rut, it is easy to stay in the rut, but if you try to exit the rut it is extremely difficult to keep your balance. It took all the mental faculties I had available to keep myself upright. It progressively got worse the closer I got to REI. At the intersection of 3rd and Reed Market, with piles of snow on my feet, I sat at the stoplight in the turn lane admiring the chaos of ruts that was plaguing the area. Some guy a couple cars back rolled down his window and yelled, "Way to go, man!" To which I replied with a smile, "hey..." The fact is, I was mentally preparing myself to eat organic material upon entering this minefield of snowy destruction. I was not a bit focused on the traffic that was fish-tailing all around me. It was me and my bike and my grocery-getter.

The light turned green and I waited for the expected three cars running the red light to slide on through the intersection. I pedaled and slid and pedaled and slid and stayed loose in my saddle, allowing my bike to skitter around beneath me as I kept my eyes focused on the road ahead. I made it through without going down. Relief was only for a moment, however, as I pounded up and over the Reed Market overpass. Reed Market is steep and notoriously rutted in the snow. Today was no different. I tried riding in the first rut, but I was getting tossed about like a leaf in the gale, so I chose the deep snow of the bike lane. This proved infinitely less taxing mentally and I rode the rest of the way to work safe-ish-ly.

I can safely say that this ride was "epic, man." It wins the worst-commuting-conditions-this-year award.

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