Sunday, March 02, 2008

Outside and upside down

After spending the week on the trainer I was determined to get outside and ride, despite the snow that seemed to have fallen all week, including on Friday night. On Saturday I took out the bike with the PowerTap so that I would have a good feel for the effort required to ride with a group of my friends.

It was kind of discouraging when you can barely make it out of the subdivision due to the snow. Since I got a late start I headed up to Chris's house in the most direct route, along a busy 4 lane highway through town. The sidewalks weren't clear I rode in the street and through the melting slush for several miles.

By the time I got to Chris's house he had already left so I kept rolling, knowing which way he was heading. I made a turn off a subdivision street and on to a cut through path only to have the bike stop dead and throwing me off. Naturally there was a lady walking her dogs right when I did it. I assured her I was OK and that it was just a part of winter riding. A little while later I could see Chris, Mark and Bryan up ahead. It wasn't too long before I caught up.

On the generally snow covered roads their fat tires stayed on top of the surface while my skinny tires would cut down and squirm all over, requiring a lot of effort to maintain balance and forward motion. I had no problems keeping the wattage up in these sections. When we would finally come to a hard, smooth stretch I would put the hammer down to keep up the required intensity. Overall the ride accomplished what I needed from a training standpoint plus I got to ride outside and with some of my friends.

Today I had a similar ride on the schedule but on the SS. With the fatter tires I was able to stay on top of the snow but there were more icy spots and snow covered ice than yesterday, due to the partial melt and overnight refreeze. It was another day to practice bike control and pedal technique; part way up some of the hills the rear wheel would suddenly spin from hitting ice and I would have to adjust my pedalling.

Coming down one of the bigger hills in the area I was riding in a lot of churned up snow due to cars spinning their wheels on the way up or locking their wheels on the way down. I was trying to be careful but as a car passed me going the opposite way I moved over and promptly slid out while they watched. Again, I assured someone that it's part of winter riding.

I was having problems with my rear brake starting to fade but still had some use of it. As I was coming to a stop on a slight downgrade the front wheel suddenly turned 90 degrees and threw me off the bike. Of course this time there was a car behind me. I almost couldn't stand up due to the ice I was on. The driver of the car said it was a pretty cool looking crash. Hmm, three crashes and every time someone right there to watch. I'm not too sure I would be a good poster child to promote the fun of winter biking.

After arriving home with no more mishaps I went right back out to get in some xc skiing with Sandy. She's sorry that the snow will soon be gone. I don't think that I can say the same.

The race at Lake Orion High School was written up and published in our local paper last week. There were more photos in the print edition.

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