Ice, Ice, Baby

23 02 2011

Last week, as I stopped to take a picture of the ice encrusted bike path I ride every day, an old man carrying bags of empties stopped his slow shuffle, gingerly balanced on the junction of the snow bank and the ice sheet and offered me some free advice.

“Turn back! It’s like this all the way.” (FTR, I had already ridden most of the full length of this trail and was on the final block.)

“It’s OK, I’ve got studded tires.” (I find people who try to tell me what’s best for me never want to hear about my studded tires.)

“You can’t ride on that!” (he motions to the ice) “You’ll break an arm!”

“I’ll be OK.”

“No! You can’t ride there! You’re going to break a leg!”

“I’ll be fine.” (I wasn’t in the  mood to again point out my tire studs and explain about angular momentum and torque and how, unlike my (or his) footwear, my studded tires have the traction of a mountain goat.)

“No! I’ve already fallen twice today! It’s too dangerous to bike! You’re going to break an arm and a leg.”

I was getting impatient by this point. “Okay, I’ll turn back after I take this picture.” This response seemed to satisfy and quiet him and he continued down the icy trail. I wonder if he noticed that I didn’t turn back, and just kept on riding down the middle of the skating rink.

There's a bike path under that ice.

The path is straight, flat, there’s no cars, and I’ve got two studded tires, so I’m not bothered by the iciness of it anymore. If you changed any one of those factors, it would be a different story, but I’ve ridden stuff like this enough times and I know this path well enough that I can just relax and roll with the flow. Every winter at some point, I reach a state of winter cycling zen where I stop thinking of all the techniques and technicalities and can just trust my body to do what it does. It’s sorta like remembering how to ride a bike.

There’s been some snow since I took this picture, so at least now I have a layer of packed snow between my tires and the Ice Capades. I love packed snow. When it’s cold out (current temperature -20C, wind chill -32C) I prefer packed snow over asphalt to ride on. The sound of snow creaking is so much nicer than studs grinding away on the pavement. Here’s hoping that it stays for a long time, and when the snow finally melts, it doesn’t refreeze until next fall.

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6 responses

24 02 2011
Stacy

What kind of tires do you have, might I ask?

Thanks!

24 02 2011
evillerider

I have a Schwalbe Marathon Winter on the front and a Continental Nordic Spike (lower stud count version) on the back. Because I don’t have a matched set, I put the more aggressively studded tire on the front.

25 02 2011
Stacy

Thanks, I may need to get something like this for next winter.

24 02 2011
bikewriter

I think it’s funny that the guy started off with you breaking an arm then a leg and then finished off with you breaking an arm and a leg! In theater, to break a leg is to wish good luck – maybe the guy was wishing you doubly well!!

24 02 2011
evillerider

I was just hoping I wouldn’t end up putting on a show after all that, by slipping on the ice.

25 02 2011
tuckamoredew

I ride the LRT path and Mill Creek every commute and I was so very glad when a bit of snow came down to cover all that ice.

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