Saturday, November 19, 2005

Icy bike ride home

Well, I made it home on Friday night. The ride would have been pleasant if I wasn't afraid of wiping out in traffic. Parts of the road were very slick. People were sliding around in the parking lot as they walked to their cars. After a few minutes, I started to find road that wasn't so slippery, then it started to freezing rain (or rain freezingly?).

I hopped onto the sidewalk and rode in the snow for about 1 km until I got onto residential streets. Things got better. Traffic was jammed, so it was moving slowly. I had a very courteous driver stay well back from me as we went down a big hill. He or she wasn't getting anywhere ahead of me anyways, so I'm glad the driver was so observant.

On a positive note: I didn't have a windshield that needed scraping. The air was fresh. I wasn't cold because my heart was beating at 120 bpm. I loved the part of the ride where the traffic was slow and light.

As defeatist as this may sound, I don't think I'll be riding to work again when there's going to be precipitation near the freezing point. Icy roads suck.

Now, studded tires. I know Jim recommended a set of Nokian studded tires a while back. I can't sensibly get into that. I've done everything I can to optimize my route so I can avoid high speed traffic, but the fact is I can not avoid some riding on major roads where cars could be doing anywhere from 60 to 90 km/h (40 to 55 mph). In the ice, I might feel nice and stable with my studded tires and the cars probably won't be going that fast, but I still can't trust the guy behind me to stop safely.

That said, this doesn't mean I can't ride in the winter, as has been pointed out to me before. Most days won't be icy and the roads are almost always cleared, so I haven't given up.

I went to the winter bike clinic put on by Toolworks of the Community Bicycle Network today. It was a thorough, casual discussion about what to do to get ready for the winter. I know there are online resources on the subject. Sometimes it does so much more to see something demonstrated and hear it spoken in person. And this was very much tailored to the urban Toronto bike commuter.

Darren J 11/19/2005 05:50:00 p.m.


I've been winter riding for about 8 or 9 years now, and the WORST riding is on the ice. Studded tyres, non-studded tyres, mountain bike, cyclocross bike, whatever, it doesn't matter. Ice sucks.

The only thing that helps when you're riding on ice is to go straight. All the time. If you have to turn, come to a near stop, unclip a foot, and hope you don't spin out.

Spring is the time when I'm most likely to abandon my bike because of road conditions, and it's one of the few times when riding on major roads is safer than riding residential roads.

Make sure you get out in the snow, though, when it's cold and soft and fresh. It's the best time to ride.

Add a comment