Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Ridin'

Some people may be aware that much of the U.S, notably the eastern half, has just received a little more snow than it was hoping for (this headline though).  After most of the winter went by without snow, here we are in Ann Arbor / Detroit with more or less a foot in most places.  That isn't "too much" by my standards, but it certainly increased the level of both fun and inconvenience at the same time.

The night of February 1st, I headed out a little before midnight while it was still snowing.  I had some difficulty negotiating the tire tracks near my apartment, but once I reached the more desolate areas, it was smooth sailing.  It helped that it was mostly downhill.

That was until I got to one of the lower areas of Ann Arbor near the previous location of my work place.  I was crossing the dam and went plowing into a snow bank on purpose because it was loose.  During the ride, I ended up going to central campus the long way and riding back the regular way.  I think I ended up carrying the not-so-light 10-speed about 2-3 of the 7 miles I covered that night.  Most of the carrying was not due to the depth of the snow, but due to the numerous footsteps and/or tire tracks that were already present in the downtown area.  Snow riding is usually more fun but I think I was in a little over my head on this one.

Also, I ordered a bottle dynamo for the Ross immediately after the ride.  I had been contemplating it for a long time since my white LED lights tend to go dim while riding in cold weather and that night, it got so bad that they all but shut off.  It was the last straw.  I didn't have trouble seeing things (surprisingly) but I'd prefer not to get hit by inattentive drivers.

We got a snow day on February 2nd.  In the last 35-ish years, U of M has had two days of school cancelled due to winter weather and it just so happened that I got to experience both of them.  I'm not one of those kids who sit around hoping for school to be cancelled, but I can't deny that the extra day in the weekend was nice.  Anyway, school was back in session today and my companion of choice was ol' Gwendolyn.  We rattled along the pathway on the way to central campus, trying not to get shaken apart by the snow compacted by footsteps.  The ride down there was a little slower than usual but nothing got in the way of the heavy, old Raleigh.

I have noticed that after a year of commuting, the tires that were so good when they were new last winter are now a little worn down.  They were cheap tires and I'd say they've done less than 900 miles.  It still looks like I have a lot of tread left at first glance but it's getting a little thin for snow riding.  It's no worry, though.  I'm careful to take it slow and after the winter, I think I'll get a set of Schwalbe Delta Cruisers since those are so much better.  The gum walls on these tires are cracking more and more and on the rare stretches of smooth pavement in town, I can feel that the tires are becoming less round.  I think the Schwalbes will be worth the extra money as many other cyclists have confirmed.

My friends who don't regularly ride call me insane for riding in this weather but hey, people pay money to go to places like Colorado to ski, snowboard, and get hurt, so why not do it for free on my vehicle of choice?

I'm kidding about the "getting hurt" part.

Of course.