Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The impossibility of wet snow

Date: Oct. 26 and 27
Mileage: 5.4 and 30.1
October mileage: 445.2

On Sunday, wet snow fell for most of the early morning, switching over the rain before I left to go riding at about 10 a.m. The roads hadn't been plowed and were covered with about three inches of sludge. I tried to ride in the shoulder, but I could never make it more than three or four feet before the rear wheel slipped or spun out. I tried the sidewalk with the same results. The only place I could make the bike move forward was the narrow strip of wet pavement where the snow had been pushed aside by cars - and that was where all the cars were slipping and spinning and barreling through.

Riding the road seemed suicidal, so I turned around with a plan to ride loops on the trails near my house. I managed about three miles with mostly the same results - slipping and skidding and washing out. I might as well have been riding in bacon grease. I was bummed, because I was really hoping to get in a long ride on Sunday. But I just couldn't ride. The conditions made it nearly impossible.

It sounds kind of funny, but I really believe that bacon grease snow is probably one of the few normal weather conditions that truly prevent cycling. If I had to commute to work that day, I would have had to walk. I'm curious if other all-weather cyclists out there have found similarly impossible conditions (not including extreme weather, like hurricanes and blizzards.) Studs wouldn't have helped because there was no ice. Skinnier tires might have cut through the snow better, but that seemed too risky when everything was so slippery already. No, the bike riding just wasn't going to happen. Of this I'm convinced.

What kind of impossible conditions have you run into, and how do you deal with them?