EleanorNYC has a lovely little post today showing “women who look stylish on their bike and not afraid of a little snow.” This reminded me that to not be afraid of a little snow, I need studded tires. If there is snow on the ground that has not yet been totally plowed off the salted streets, I’ll only ride my bike with studded tires.
These are the bad boys on which I rely: Schwalbe Marathon Winters. I bought them five or six winters ago and they’re still going strong.
Because I don’t have the time, patience or interest to swap out the tires myself (a longer-than-usual process for my Dutch bike), I brought Oma to a local bike shop a few weeks ago for her yearly tire swap.
When it was time to pick Oma up the next day, I Divvied to the shop. (Thanks again, Divvy!)
My girl was waiting for me, still wearing her medical bracelet.
Oma was also wearing a note from my friend Dan, who saw her when he happened by the shop later to have his bike serviced. An inside joke involving karaoke and Justin Timberlake – fun! :-) Now Oma and I are ready to take on winter together and not be afraid of snow. A lot of Chicago bicyclists get by fine without studded tires – and in fact I never put mine on two winters ago due to the relatively mild weather – but I like having them as an option. What do you do to take on winter bicycling?
The past three days have been warmer than earlier this week, but presented challenges related to precipitation, rather than temperature.
Snow fell heavily on Friday morning and I took the L train to work. I never bike when the streets look like this:
One day later, the skies were clear and blue…
…and the snow was reduced to mucky slush on the side of the road.
My friend Janet and I were able to ride our matching Omas to ballet burn class with no problem. (Except for ballet-burn-related soreness!)
Sleet and freezing rain have been falling all day Sunday, which I took as a sign to stay inside and read Wide Sargasso Sea (and hate Mr. Rochester so much). The world outside my window looks pretty nasty, so I’ll probably be on the L train again Monday.
This mix of snow, sun and sleet reminds me that the best way to get through winter is to be flexible and not put pressure on myself to bike all the time.
When I feel comfortable biking, I enjoy it so much more.
Yesterday I posted pictures I took while playing in the blizzard and I mentioned my bike ride the day after the storm. Here is a detailed account of that ride and a look at the blizzard’s not-so-pretty aftermath.
After pulling Oma out of the garage and into the alley, I began doubting my decision to ride my bike one day after 20 inches of snow poured down on Chicago.
The condition of the first street I came upon did not increase my self-confidence.
However, I had a plan to take arterial streets that I usually avoid due to scary car traffic. I knew they would be plowed and a bit calmer than usual, and I was right.
Once I reached my destination, I just had to find a parking spot…
This bike called dibs way earlier. I’d say he earned it.
Luckily I found a bike rack that was not totally consumed by snow.
Once on foot, I realized that bicycling in the road was much easier than walking down un-shoveled sidewalks.
Well, except for streets like this one. The side streets still had a ridiculous amount of snow.
Overall, the ride was a pretty low-key adventure. My intimate familiarity with the area, bicycling confidence and studded tires helped the situation. For sure, I was happy to return home at sunset, safe and sound and feeling a little bad ass.
Today I biked 10 miles roundtrip to work, plus a couple of miles during lunch, plus a few more miles tonight to see the Decemberists play a live show (so good!). The rides were more stressful and obstacle-course-like than usual, especially when some [censored] honked at me, but enjoyable nevertheless.
Now what’s that news story about a groundhog seeing his shadow?
Luckily, all of these businesses had re-opened already. I opted to ride my bike, not from a sense of adventure, but because it made the most sense.
I wanted to get to a certain area and didn’t want to walk 3 miles roundtrip or deal with public transportation. The ride was fine. While the side streets are drowned in snow, the main routes have been plowed and cars were nice enough while going around me.
Pretty cool, right? I enjoyed my first blizzard. :)