OK, I live in Chicago (NW suburbs) and we got about 8" of snow on Friday and then it got real cold. The snow plowing was terrible and even on Monday when I thought I might try to ride in, it was only 9F and I thought the combination of lousy plowing and single digit temps too much for me. OK, so Tuesday morning the plowing is a little better but there is still ice and ruts all over the place but now the temp was 3F. Yes, that's not a typo, 3F or -16C, before windchill. Fine, I winp out but this morning it's a nice 32F and I can't wait to get back on my winter bike to get some riding in, equipped with Nokian snows.
I get down my neighborhood roads without much difficulty but have quite a bit of trouble going down the highway (4 lane divided 65 mph) because the snow/slush (2-4") on the shoulder is semi frozen. Sometimes I can ride above it and sometimes my tires crash through and slide all over because there is usually ice underneath. The front tire is usually OK but the back tire is all over the place and I am very near the white line and uncomfortable. Well ... I trudge on.
After a mile or two, I get to my forest preserve MUP. After hopping the snow bank, I try to ride on the MUP. This is confusing me as it is sometimes fine, but I am often being thrown all over the place. The footprints and tracks are tossing me all over the place. I fall and eat a handlebar right in the ribs ... ouch. Yes, I have my speedplay zeros and this is not great as you don't have enough time to clip out when you are going down. Here is a picture of the situation.
Here is what happened. The people who traveled on the MUP before it got cold stomped through the deep snow and slush. Then it got cold. Now there are freakin mini ice craters everywhere. They stick up about 2-3" and have sharp frozen edges. It's like hitting 2-3" rocks that you can't see very well. Here is a close-up shot.
So, I still don't want to give up even though I can't clip in on one of my shoes anymore due to the ice packed in it. I drop to the granny gear and try to ride around the mini mines. No chance. There are too many and some are hidden. I fall again! So, let's try riding off the mup over on the side of the grass. This doesn't work either, the same issue exists over there with footprints and cross country ski tracks. After my third fall ... banging and pulling my knee, I throw in the towel. Except I have to get back home.
I walk the bike back to the road (Feeling like a loser) I get back on the highway (with both shoes fouled now) and head for home, reassesing if I can take busy roads to get to work but looking at fantastic plowing like this ... I say no way, live to fight again another day.
If I try to ride on exposed pavement, I'm in the highway. If I try to ride on the shoulder, I'm in deep snow/slush/ice hell. Worse yet, it's supposed to get cold again tomorrow. The whole episode took close to an hour.
I am going to scout different routes and maybe even drive my car on the shoulder to make a narrow lane for myself tomorrow morning. This blows as I really want to get some cardio in and really dislike indoor training but I will use a Nordic Track if I have to. I have been doing more weightlifting the past few days.
Any thoughts or suggestions from you experienced guys?