Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Break in the Cold: March 8th Ride

Could it be? Is winter finally starting to release its icy grip?

I got out today for (I'm almost embarrassed to admit) my first ride of 2015.

I have a self-imposed limit of 25 degrees (American) for bike rides. I know people who ride when its even colder than that, but below 25, even with double gloves and neoprene overboots and my thickest wool socks, I just can't keep my fingers and toes from getting numb. I try not to feel too bad about it, though I do sometimes feel like a bit of a wuss when I see the abominable snowmen riding in the single digits with snotcicles dangling from their noses, and frosty beards of ice.

That's the Rivendell parked in front of our house. I know it doesn't
look like much, but we call it home. And yes, despite the warming
temps, our driveway is still a solid sheet of ice.
I don't think we've had a day above 25 here in Northeast Ohio since December -- at least not one that wasn't also accompanied by heavy snow, or sleet and freezing rain. If the temperatures this week go as predicted, I may get to ride to work a few times this week (fingers crossed). I haven't been able to do that since the week before Christmas.

Out on the roads today, I was able to see (and feel) up close and personal all the damage wrought on our roads by this brutal winter. Last winter was rough as well, but I don't remember any winter having a bigger impact on the roads than this one. Huge sections of pavement are affected by heaves, while others were heaved up, and apparently sunk back down to create big dips. Sometimes it's heaves in-between dips for a stomach-churning whoop-de-doo effect. Deep, uneven cracks crisscross the asphalt. The ones that run longitudinally, parallel to the direction of travel, can be particularly hazardous. And the potholes are everywhere -- deep, wide, and sharp-edged, and strung together like strings of diabolical beads. They are so numerous and cover so much of the roadways that in some parts they are basically unavoidable. The areas around the worst of the potholes are littered with the broken remains of hubcaps and other wheel coverings from unlucky motorists. If I'm out there in the early morning darkness commuting to work, I'll have to use extreme caution, as all these new hazards will be harder to see. Some of them are wheel-busters.

I did see a few other cyclists out today, though not as many as I'd expected. With so much water from melting snow on the roads, I was surprised at how few of them had fenders on their bikes. Most of the people I encountered had tell-tale sooty black wet stripes up their backs from the roads which still carry the grime from a terrible winter's worth of salt and cinders. I got up behind one rider, who was wearing a bunch of team kit, only to catch a face full of that filth coming off their back wheel. They were going too fast for me to pass, and they didn't seem like they were looking for a ride companion, so I eased up and let them go. That pace was a bit hard for me to sustain, anyhow. Too soon.

I didn't go very far today, just far enough to realize that it's been too long since I've been out on my bike. I'm sure we'll have some more nasty cold and more snow and ice before spring arrives for real. But for now, it feels like a long-awaited reprieve.


  1. We got to 9C (48F) here today. It's the first time since Christmastime, I think, that we've had two consecutive days of above-freezing temperatures without snow, sleet or rain.

    Don't feel bad about your temperature limit. You know what you can and can't take--and, even more important, when cycling is fun and when it isn't for you.

    As for me, my limit is ice on the roads or a combination of cold and heavy precipitation.

  2. It was 49°F and sunny in central Indiana yesterday afternoon, so I did take the Atlantis out for a spin. There were plenty of puddles and potholes to dodge, but it sure felt good to ride. The arrival of Daylight Saving Time means it will still be light out when I get off work, so I should be able to resume bike commuting this week. C’mon, Spring!

    1. We had similar weather here yesterday. I did ride to work yesterday, and it looks like I'll be able to at least a couple more times this week. Finally!