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March 17, 2006

And down he goes…

Well, I thought I’d have nothing more to say about WINTER BIKING. But as it turns out, I’ve had a few new experiences in the last couple of days that I’d like to record and add to this category. I think in the middle of the summer I’ll read all of these posts just to remind myself of the strange environment we live in, being in the Upper Midwest, Northern Hemisphere with Snow and Ice for a few months out of the year and blistering heat in the summer. It’s a land of two extremes and we can scarcely remember the other season while we are in the middle of trying to survive the current one.
Wednesday night it began to snow when I was leaving the bike shop and Thursday morning was really snowy again and I decided to ride my bike into work. But I used my mountain bike with the studded tires and it was fine. In my immediate neighborhood they did not plow, so that was the roughest part of the ride for sure. The snow was thick and it felt like I was riding on a layer of soft mud; physically challenging to slog through and at the same time sliding all over, barely keeping the bike upright. I look at it like training to improve my off-road-bike-handling skills. One guy even leaned out the window of his car and gave me a thumbs up. Haha. Even with studded mountain bike tires I was sliding all over mainly because I was floating over the surface and not reaching anything compact. Then once I got past my neighborhood, the roads were fine and the studs hit pavement, or at least compact Ice and I did not feel any slippage. After work yesterday the roads were totally clear and it actually wore down my studs a little, which are just wood screws and not intended for road use. I made these tires for the ice-bike races last year and this year and had never used them on the road before. I haven’t needed them on the road this year because it’s been so mild. But in the conditions we had I’m actually glad I had the studded tires. They did help with traction and who knows how bad the ride would have been without them.
When I got to the bike shop last night, my rear tire went flat. I made it all the way into work, and then to the bike shop and as I was pulling my bike inside someone noticed that my rear tire was flat. It went just like that. This tube I had in there was old though and patched in several places and worn out in spots where the nipples had protruded before. I had not replace the tube then, I just lined the tire with more duct tape and patched the tube in several places and used it that way for the bike races. After our meeting I had to fix my tire before riding home. This is what I did…
I cut the bead off both sides of a worn 26? road slick, lined my studded tire with that, put a new tube inside of the inner-tire, pumped it up and away I went. I made my own thick-skinned lining. I had read this trick online but thought duct-tape was enough, but this should prove to be really tough protection for my tube against the studs and other protrusions. We’ll see. Innovation is a series of experiments and corrections. And an added benefit to this is that I’m putting an old, worn-out tire back into use in another form. I rode all the way home last night with no problems and the tire is still holding air.
This morning I saw the weather report was looking good for the next few days so I decided to ride my Schwinn Suburban commuter bike with the skinny, 27x1-1/4? tires. By this time my unplowed-neighborhood streets were all packed down by cars so the riding was fairly easy. That’s when it happened. I came to the last unplowed segment of road in my neighborhood and pulled up to the stop sign. It was solid ice from the cars packing it down and the melting/refreezing, but it wasn’t a smooth sheet of ice. It was all layered and sloped and at different levels. As I was about to stop my wheels started to slide out to the right and I went down. I couldn’t counter-balance because I was on a slight incline and there was nothing stopping my momentum. Down I went. This was my first wipeout this winter. This was a new experience. I guess these are the exact conditions where studded tires would have come in handy.
My left hip was really sore but after riding the rest of the way into work it all worked itself out. Now I feel fine. I suppose the more I do this, the more likely it is that I wipe out, given the varied conditions and my use of different equipment on various days. It’s still worth it, I just need to be more cautious when stopping on ice.
So now can I put winter biking to rest for the year?

Posted by carl1236 at March 17, 2006 10:25 AM | Winter-Biking