Blizzard Commute

What, no one else rode today?There were predictions for a big snowstorm starting yesterday, but I ride in to work like usual and see what will come of it. The ride in is nice – quiet, a gentle tailwind, and a few snowflakes. During the morning the university announces it will close at noon to let people get home before the incoming blizzard snows us in. By noon there’s about six inches of snow on the ground. I unlock the bike, wondering if I’ll be pushing it 5 miles home.

Bike commuting in a blizzardRiding turns out to be possible. The recumbent bike is difficult to get started, but once I get going the low center of gravity helps. I have to treat the front wheel like a ski – it doesn’t behave at all like a wheel. I wag it back and forth to keep me upright. Keeping the momentum up is key, which requires applying just the right torque to the pedals to turn the rear wheel without slipping. I bog down many times, mostly because of irregularities in the snow from car tracks. Once I hit the bike path I have the hang of it, and the rest of the ride is actually fun. Now I’m safe at home, and hear that Denver has closed all its highways and declared a state of emergency…

11 responses to “Blizzard Commute”

  1. i can’t see the pics but i enjoyed every last word of the biking commentary and would like to have read more. THAT SOUNDS FASCINATING.

    it touches on my theory of “The Pleasure Principle of the Magical Point of Contact”. it’s that interface between rubber and road or rubber and rock.. and from that, the ‘pleasure’ travels up to your mind.

    snowboarding is great. there is sooo little between your foot and the snow.. and from that, the pleasure travels up. same with surfing. this principle applies VERY well to the bouldering at WW. the point of friction on the rock. your fingers just begging for the right amount of pain and friction. mmmmmmmm….

    but you had a totally new experience. the ski effect of your front tire on snow. must have been VERY surreal at times. i am stoked for you man. i wish i could see the pics.

    my buddy gabe is in a Denver suburb right now. says he’s been on lockdown at his mom’s place fer 2 days. shoveled all day. lol. poor bastard.

    anyway, i definitely want to talk to you ’bout the bike ride sometime. congeal your thoughts on the how that interface was and how it was different than other sensations you’ve experienced.

  2. Interesting. The pleasure is born partly of the frustration from trying to start and failing several times. You sit back, push a pedal, get a little forward motion, get your other foot on the pedals, crank, spin out, and put the foot back down. Repeat. So when that rear wheel finally grips enough to keep you moving, all your attention goes right to that point, and you sense exactly what you need to do to keep the friction good. Then your attention snaps to the front wheel, which is not tracking at all. It’s a delayed reaction, like steering a boat. So you keep the forward momentum going, and use the front wheel to catch you, bite into the snow a bit, and throw you back upright. Fun … but also sweaty and depressing when you lose it 😉

    I wonder why you can’t see the pics. Anybody else having trouble?

  3. ahh.. yes, i know the “boat” feeling. that is how a snowboard works to, how it tracks. thing is, when you get good enough, you can turn so fast, you don’t notice the delay.

    yeah.. i can see it being very physically demanding. like the last time *cough* “boarded” in 3+ feet of powder.

    seems like you’d be better off hiking to work.

  4. it’s the computer i was on (blocking flickr). i can see ’em now.

    that’s a great pic of your lone bike at the rack.

    the other pics looks brutal. that ain’t quite a “smile” on yer face.

  5. We just tried to get the car out. Made it about 15 feet, then dug for 20 minutes to get it back into the driveway.


    yeah, the street gutter water was frozen the last 2 mornings. but it was running freely this morning… SUCKUZzz!!!

  7. I usually find it rewarding to be optimistic about the weather, but you do have to be willing to contend with unfavorable outcomes too. I knew I might end up pushing the bike through miles of snow, and was prepared to do it.

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