Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Snowstorm Cycling

If it were just a bit warmer it would be shorts weather.
I've had a couple of setbacks with winter biking.  The biggest one thus far is the... well... lack of winter!  We've had a few snowfalls but they all melted quickly.  We just had a green Christmas in my area, which is extremely rare.

My other problem has been my freehub on SubZero.  When it is left outside and it gets very cold, it freezes up and doesn't engage anymore.  I've been told it has a pretty cheapo freehub right now that's probably not serviceable.  I've started keeping it inside but eventually I will need a new freehub.    I've been shopping around for some used wheels, but in the meantime my quick fix is working.

When we finally had a snow fall and my free hub wasn't acting up, I was eager to get out there.  The fact that there was a snow storm didn't really deter me.  It wasn't a light dusting either, it was complete with strong weather advisories insisting that people stay home.  Pffft... challenge accepted!

Two or four wheels, you had to be a bit crazy to be out in this.
Some people were taking the weather advisory very seriously.  In my time out I saw just one car driving around.  I'm pretty sure we both gave each other the "Are you crazy?!" stare.

I headed in the direction of a nearby parkway.  In the wintertime, the parkway gets closed.  They put barriers up to prevent cars from entering and they cease snow removal or any other winter maintenance.  It works out well for me, there is no danger of a car sliding into me.

Along the way there are regular roads and a trail.  The road conditions were very icy.  This was not a problem for my Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro tires.  Those tungsten carbide studs really dig into ice.  The trail had other surprises in mind.  A few snowmobiles had packed down part of the trail.  Boot and canine prints hinted at the presence of dog walkers.  I figured riding on the snowmobile tracks would be easier as the snow was packed down.  Unfortunately I sink deeper than snowmobiles do.  Also whenever their tracks would cross each other, It results in fun things like your front tire following the the track to the right while your rear tire follows the track to the left.

Snow melted on the lens and refroze, contributing to the blurry part.
Eventually I made it to the parkway where it was a bit easier to ride.  The parkway is made up of several islands connected by causeways and low bridges.  While there was some snow accumulation, it would also blow around in odd ways.  So the road was a bit icy, or bare pavement or powder snow.

The downside of riding the parkway is your exposure to the elements.  You have a small lake on one side and a very large river on the right.  Large enough that it has fast currents and is extremely deep in areas.  So parts of the river are not frozen.  So in a windy snowstorm there is a lot of spray which flash freezes.  So when I went by these sections, I felt like my face was being sandblasted.  I quickly learned to skirt more towards the lake side, which was not trying to flay the skin off my face.

I've been told the parkway is popular with winter activities.  Snowmobiles and ATV's top the motorized list but there are a sizable number of cross country skiers, snow-shoers and others.  I'm hoping to encourage some winter cycling on here by way of example.  At the very least, I'll probably be one of the very few to complete Strava segments on here from December to March.

UPDATE: and a little bonus, a crappy video I made, yay!  Because the footage had the frozen chunk on it, it didn't turn out great.


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