Sunday, January 20, 2008

More snow riding

Well, "snow" by DC-area standards, anyway.

This past Thursday we got about 3-4 inches I'd guess, out in the Virginia suburbs. I had driven to work that day, but planned to ride my stud-equipped Miyata 210 in on Friday. That turned out to be tougher than I had imagined! The temperature had reached a point that made conditions particularly challenging, and the ride took roughly twice as long as usual going in to work. That is to say, a half hour ride became an hour ride, and a strenuous one at that.

It seems the temperature was at just the right point that it left the trail in a state of mixed slush and ice, never fun. Basically, the areas where no one had traveled were thick, wet, slushy snow which sucked at my tires and really bogged me down. On the other hand, the parts of the path where folks had walked or cycled before me were frozen just hard enough to make it rather bumpy and tough to hold any sort of line. Any time my front wheel intersected the path of a previous rider, it got bumped around and tried to follow that rider's path, regardless of where I wanted to go. A tough ride, but in retrospect, a good one. And more learning in the ways of winter riding.

The ride home was quite a bit easier, as some areas had melted down to pavement, and the rest had frozen back up more solidly than the morning. Studded tires really excel on hard-frozen surfaces, so I made much better time and had more fun on the way home. An added challenge was the dark, but with decent lights and a certain amount of just letting go and going with the flow helped to make it fun. And a lot faster! Basically, my time landed right between my usual half hour and the morning's hour, at 45 minutes. Not a bad time for snow and ice.

The one kind of winter riding I haven't gotten to experience in way too long it that lovely moment when you get to be the first, or among the first, to travel a given path. Ah, that's so wonderful, to gently push through the snow to the quiet crunching of powder. Alas, that's all a matter of timing, and I haven't really done it in a while. Here's hoping...

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