Monday, March 1, 2010

Slippery When Wet...And Frozen

More than a couple of times this winter I've heard people tell me that they don't like to ride outside in the colder months because it's too cold, and the roads are dirty and icy.

I agree that the roads are dirty. And there's a lot of salt out there. But when the roads are dry it's not that bad.

And yes it is cold. No two ways about that. Except to gear up and put in two warmers.

But the icy thing I wasn't buying. We had a good deal of snow in December and January with a pretty eventful February. And sure, right after it snows the roads have snow on them. Even once they're plowed the sides/shoulders are ruddy. But I wouldn't really say icy. Of course there is the occasional spot where tons of snow run off congregates in the road and makes a big icy/snowy patch. But that's rare and so blatant it's easy to spot, to slow down for and to avoid unscathed.

However, as of yesterday I have a new perspective and icy road scenario.

Over the past week with a slew of storms passing over the northeast, outdoor riding has been a non-issue. If it was pouring the roads were soaked. And I can do cold, but not wet, and certainly not cold and wet.
We got a break from the rain on Saturday morning and roads were looking dry, which looked good for my 150 minute spin on Sunday. But alas, sure enough drizzle fell from the heavens and the roads once again turned from light gray to dark.

But ever the optimist, I awoke on Sunday hoping that the partly 30% chance of rain would mean a damp but not sopping tarmac and the possibility of further drying.
And I was in luck. At 7 there was no precipitation and I could see the pavement lightening in spots.

I checked the temp to dress accordingly and took note of the 30 degree temp. Humm, below freezing, I thought to myself. Humm, the roads are sill damp from that rain yesterday. Humm, the roads don't look frozen.
If had been my usually lacidasical self I would have gotten back in bed, snuggled with all the peoples, woken at 10, had some breakie and then gotten on the saddle. But I had a Boog to watch later in the day and wanted to beat any possible incoming rain clouds.

Once on the bike I did the tried and true "break test" (thanks dad!) to check the condition of the roads. All skid and no slide, the roads looked good.
I started out as I usually do on my favorite quite lead road, Cross Lane. I was still taking it easy a little easy on the corners as I was warming up. I crossed 128 and came into a little residential area that frequently has water on the road and felt my bike twitch a little as my tires hit the painted lines of a crosswalk. I should have made note of this and slowed up a bit. But instead, made note of it and kept on going.

Next up is the funky little triangle area where Groce meets Standley. And this is where the shaded corner was covered with ice. It's also the place were I slid onto my hip.
Fortunately I wasn't going very fast, there wasn't any traffic and my warm winter clothes added extra scuff protection. It's been awhile since I've fallen on the road and I was due. Hopefully It'll be awhile before I go down again.
Here's a shot one day after.

Bike's mostly okay. A couple of scrapes on the saddle and the bar tape. And my clothing is mostly okay, again a couple of scrapes. The mount for the powertap broke and short of holding it in my hand there was no way to read it while biking. I had to pop back home to switch chest straps to have some HR for the rest of my ride. Why can't polar and powertap get along?

Experience is the best education yah? Next time I'll have to avoid the side roads when it's wet and frozen.