On Snowtires and Slush

03Jan08

I’ve been off my bike for the most part since Christmas, as I managed to acquire a pretty nasty head cold. Since then we’re had a decent amount of snowfall, and what with the holidays, the roads haven’t been plowed nearly as well as one might expect. Rather, the snow’s been allowed to pack in and get some pretty nasty ruts intermingled with slush and patches of ice.

And while the studded Nokian Hakkepliita’s work great on either glare ice or fresh snow, their forte seems to clearly exclude the above mentioned slush. On ice they ride so well that I’ve been cruising right along, put my foot down at a stop, and nearly fell over. Both on ice and snow, the only difference I find that I need to make in my riding is take everything a little slower, overall riding speed and turns in particular.

That slush, however–it can be pretty hard to predict. Take tonight. I rode downtown to meet up with some friends to give the monthly trivia night at Red’s a whirl. Only a block from home I nearly took a spill after I got sucked into slush, then kicked right onto ice. the best description: it’s somewhat like riding into sand or heavy gravel. The wheel digs in the does a sort of a reverse fishtail. Very disconcerting, even if wearing a welmet (I was).

It seems as though the only thing that works is to slow down even more, stay in the wheel tracks and/or stick to the busier streets. At night that works just fine, but on the way to work during rush hour, taking the lane can be a pretty iffy affair. Cars don’t much like it when you slow them down in their mad dash of I should’ve left the house 20 minutes ago and have to be there now, now, 10 minutes ago.

Time to start exploring alternate routes to work, I’d imagine. And despite the grumbling, I’m having a grand time on two wheels so far this winter.

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