Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Biking Season Is Here!

It is above freezing so time to start biking in earnest. This morning it was a bit frosty but nothing compared to the chills of the past few weeks. The ride was the most treacherous I've faced however. The combination of thaw and freeze left a lot of black ice on the roads and paths. But it was nice not having to don so much gear before I headed out to bike to work today.

My first of two spills occurred just as I got on the Lakeshore Path off Ardmore. I was speeding to beat the light across Sheriden and just didn't slow down enough for conditions. So I slid and laid the bike down skinning my right knee once again. Fortunately my long johns already had a hole in that area so I wasn't concerned about new damage. My wipe out no doubt broke the morning routine for a truck full of Chicago Park District workers on the path. But no other damage to me or the bike.

The section of the path between Ardmore and Lawrence was plenty wet and icy. There is a lot of snow runoff creating many slippery patches. Further south there were fewer icy spots.

From Oak to Ohio was by far the most challenging. The Oak Street Curve wasn't a problem. I didn't even have to dismount to bike on the ice and snow. But once on the straight-away it was very dicey. There was a path cleared of snow on this stretch but melting snow ran down the slope to the lake creating scores of icy patches. I biked quite slowly fearing a wipe out would send me close to or even into the Lake Michigan. I was glad to be out of there and back on more predictable surfaces.

My second spill was on the curve in the path between Randolph and Monroe. The park slopes and there is a lot of snow run off crossing the path. I fishtailed on some ice and part of my pannier caught the spoke and created the clothespin/baseball card effect. It wasn't much of a spill and was actually a blessing in disguise. Had I maintained the same speed I would have likely cracked up just up ahead where there was all sorts of water and ice.

My bike's shifting suffered the effects of the cold weather and is pretty ineffective. I need to readjust the cable on my rear derailleur because I screwed it all up trying to force it in the cold. So much for my recent tune up.

A block away from the office I noticed my bike had a subtle bounce to it as if it now had full suspension. I was starting to freak thinking I must have busted my frame somewhere but it all looked ok. Then with ironic relief I saw my front tire was going flat. I risked my front rim and limped the rest of the way. I didn't want any of my co-workers spotting me walking my bike or at the side of the road changing the tube. I'd bring the wheel home tonight and change it in the comfort of my basement since I'm not biking home again until Friday.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 1945.5 miles
Price of gas: $2.43

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